Eight new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Kent County as of Wednesday morning.  The new cases are substantially associated with Autumn Lake Health Care facility on Morgnec Road in Chestertown.

This could bring the total cases associated with Autumn Lake to over 20, and more test results are still pending. The facility is currently housing a little over 70 residents.

The new cases come two days after 15 COVID-19 infections were reported at the facility. One death was reported.

The exact number of infections can no longer be confirmed at Autumn Lake, based on new guidance from an attorney with the Maryland Department of Health. The new guidance is designed to protect the privacy of those infected.

When the Kent Pilot sought confirmation of new cases at Autumn Lake on Tuesday, Kent County Health Officer William Webb read from a statement regarding new guidance on reporting outbreaks at nursing facilities.

“Neither the Maryland Department of Health nor the local health departments will routinely disclose identifying information about nursing homes or other congregate living facilities with residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 — because the disclosure serves no public health purposes and could lead to the identification of specific persons who have tested positive.”

The new guidance went into effect on Tuesday, April 21.

Webb said the reporting guidance was prompted by numerous media inquiries in 15 counties as well as a public information request from a major news outlet. That major news outlet was the Baltimore Sun.

The Kent Pilot has also learned that Autumn Lake was severely lacking in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for janitorial workers, housekeeping staff and food service employees at the beginning of the pandemic. They finally received masks after an outcry to management.

The number of COVID-19 cases grew statewide to 14,775, an increase of 582 over the previous 24 hours. Deaths increased to 631, an increase of 47.