ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — As more coronavirus outbreaks are popping up around Maryland nursing homes, Gov. Larry Hogan announced more actions to protect residents and staff.

Effective immediately, facilities will be required to direct all staff who interact with residents to wear personal protective equipment, create separate observation and isolation areas for residents and expedite all testing through the Maryland State Public Health Laboratory. Failing to do so could lead to a $5,000 fine, up to a year in prison or both.

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“As we have been saying for several weeks, older Marylanders and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable and at a significantly higher risk of contracting, getting more severely ill, and dying from this disease,” the governor said.

On Friday, Deputy Secretary of Public Health Fran Phillips recommended nursing homes send tests to the state lab as opposed to using slower mail-in services.

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Hogan said a major concern is that there are 81 nursing homes in the state that are dealing with outbreaks.

Ten deaths have occurred at a single nursing home, the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy. Dozens of residents and 24 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Statewide, Maryland has seen 3,609 confirmed cases of the virus and 67 deaths as of Sunday.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos