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Maryland announces first-in-the-nation 'strike teams' to tackle coronavirus in nursing homes

Maryland announces first-in-the-nation 'strike teams' to tackle coronavirus in nursing homes
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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Tuesday the formation of "strike teams" to help assisted care living centers dealing with the coronavirus, the first state in the nation to enact such efforts.

The announcement follows the confirmation that 90 elderly care facilities in Maryland have confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The strike teams will include local health care workers, National Guard members and a handful of other public health aides from state and local health departments.

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The teams will focus efforts on supervising virus testing and assisting to separate exposed residents and staff from other healthy assisted care workers and community residents.

Hogan added that the teams would also bring in medical supplies and workers directly to assisted care facilities to prevent unnecessary patient transfers to hospitals.

"We're the first state in the nation to launch such a coordinated response effort," he said. "The goal here is not to replace a nursing home's medical or clinical team, but to provide immediate support and assistance to help protect residents."

The governor previously enacted an emergency order on Sunday mandating nurses in homes to use expedited testing options to identify carriers of the virus more quickly, while also instructing them to wear masks and other protective equipment, which has been in short supply across the country, in assisted care facilities.

Fran Phillips, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Health, confirmed the shortage of equipment is stymieing the government's efforts to stop the spread in elderly communities.

"We are still in a national shortage of the basic raw materials that are necessary to do these tests," Phillips said. "It is a continuing source of frustration."