Florida focused on safety at long-term care facilities, governor says

Posted at 11:25 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 13:53:07-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is ramping up it's efforts to protect vulnerable residents at long-term care facilities across the state.

Speaking in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said people who are 65 years and older represent 84 percent of coronavirus-related deaths in Florida.

"Those numbers paint a very clear picture of where we need to be dedicating resources and where we can make the most difference in saving lives and protecting people," DeSantis said.

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The governor said Florida is going to expand testing at long-term care facilities, as well as establish more COVID-19 dedicated nursing homes.

Four of those sites are currently operating around the state, with another coming online this week. The sites only house coronavirus patients who may not require hospitalization.

"These are nursing homes that have the ability to properly isolate," said DeSantis.

The governor said he's still deciding when visitors may be allowed again at long-term care facilities, but stopped short of giving a specific timeline.

"We gotta figure out a way to give some folks hope and be able to see their families," DeSantis. "I'm not gonna sign off unless I'm convinced it's gonna be safe."

When those facilities reopen to visitors, family members may be required to wear personal protective equipment or even take a rapid COVID-19 test before seeing their loved ones.

"We do want to get the families back together," said DeSantis. "We obviously want to put safety first."

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 663 coronavirus-related deaths at long-term care facilities throughout the state.