FORT MYERS, Fla. — Florida is easing restrictions even more on visitations to long-term care facilities throughout the state.
Speaking at Amavida Living in Fort Myers on Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants families to have the freedom to be together.
"We need to be able to have family connections. This is very, very important," DeSantis said.
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Last month, Florida started allowing visitors again at long-term care facilities across the state, with restrictions.
On Thursday, DeSantis said a new executive order will allow children to visit long-term care facilities, and will also allow for outdoor visitation, even if a resident or staff member at a facility have recently tested positive for COVID-19.
"We just don't have very many cases that get linked to outdoor activity," DeSantis said. "Being outdoors is something that's been very positive."
In addition, long-term care facilities will not require social distancing for "compassionate caregivers."
Finally, the executive order eliminates the five-person maximum number of general visitors and allows each facility to select their own visitor limit.
"What we're trying to do on this is really empower the residents, the families, and the facilities to be able to make good decisions," DeSantis said.
The governor added that since Sept. 1, the number of COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities statewide has declined by 70%
"It's been a really steep decline," DeSantis said. "I think everyone wants a safe environment, but they also want to have an environment where there's a lot of love, and a lot of caring, and a lot of connection."
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 768,091 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 16,267 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.