Florida health leaders are finally sharing with the public the number of COVID-19 cases inside long-term care centers around the state. It is the first time, the public is able to see the scope of how the virus has invaded, and in some cases, attacked a population doctors have long considered to be most vulnerable to the disease. The data also reveals that, at least, 15 facilities had more than a dozen staff members test positive for COVID-19.
The newly released details follow weeks of pressure by our station and several other local and national media outlets which have repeatedly asked for the information and reported on the state’s failure to provide it.
During a press conference in Tampa on Monday, Investigative Reporter Katie LaGrone asked Governor Ron DeSantis if he supported the release of this information.
“Yea, I think so,” responded DeSantis. “I’m going to look at it, I’m going to review it and I’m going to see what format it’s in and what format makes the most sense and I’m going to do it,” he said.
A few hours later, a link appeared on the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 web page.
The link is broken down by county. The list includes nearly 400 facilities with, at least, 30 reporting more than a dozen cases of the virus infecting its residents.
According to the state, the Southern Oaks Care Center in Escambia County has had 87 patients test positive for the virus.
While the link provides more details, it does not include the number of people in Florida long-term care centers who have died as a result of the disease.
Our parent company, E.W. Scripps, has joined a lawsuit with nearly a dozen other media outlets seeking information on deaths related to COVID-19 at long-term care centers.
Our decision to join is part of our commitment to viewers to bring you vital information during this critical time.