BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  Gov. Larry Hogan toured the FutureCare Northpoint facility in Dundalk Tuesday. The fact that visitors are going inside is a sign things are slowly returning to life before the pandemic.

Nursing homes and senior living facilites have been hit hard during the pandemic. The state health department says 3,523 residents have died after getting the virus.

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“Outbreaks in our Maryland nursing homes fell by more than 65 percent from their peak just this winter.” said Hogan.

Congregate care settings like nursing homes and senior living facilities were the first sites where COVID-19 vaccines were given out in late December, but the governor said more work needs to be done. His administration will continue to conduct vaccination clinics at nursing homes.

“State health officials are currently working directly with providers to conduct more than 30 clinics every week across the state including right here at FutureCare Northpoint,” says Governor Hogan.

Hogan said Maryland was one of the first states to require universal testing at nursing home facilities to keep residents and staff safe.

In order to ensure that vaccines are readily available to anyone who lives or works in the state’s nursing homes, Maryland has activated mobile vaccination teams to conduct additional clinics at the facilities.

Officials will also unveil a dashboard, which will give a facility by facility breakdown of how many residents have been vaccinated.

The dashboard will track vaccination rates for both nursing home residents and staff and will be updated weekly.

In Baltimore City, the health commissioner, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said senior centers will resume in person activities at 50 percent capacity later this month.

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For residents who’ve been isolated, more connections with friends and family could literally be a life saver.

“We know that vaccinations are the only way we are going to get our residents back to the interactive environments that they strive in,” said a health care official who spoke at Tuesday’s event with the Governor.

He talked about how social media is creating some vaccine hesitancy and he’s hoping as more get vaccinated they help encourage others.

The state is also expanding a vaccine confidence effort, which Hogan said, “is aimed at encouraging the remaining nursing home workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible, protect themselves and those that are in their care.”

Leslie Ray, of Brookdale Senior Living, said the vaccinations are important in the nursing home and senior living community.

With the help of the “Ask Your Elders” campaign, they actually had elderly residents share why they got the vaccination with some staff that were hesitant.

“Don’t be a scaredy cat, get vaccinated. I did,” one woman told a staffer according to Ray.

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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.

Ava-joye Burnett