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Gov. Ron DeSantis limits nursing home, assisted living facility visitation in Florida

Posted: 1:13 PM, Mar 11, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-12 09:58:52-04
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking new measures to protect the elderly from the deadly coronavirus.

The governor held a news conference on Wednesday at the State Capitol in Tallahassee.

According to the Florida Department of Health, 26 Florida residents have tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19, and two have died.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus

On Wednesday, Gov. DeSantis temporarily banned the following people from visiting nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult family care homes, long-term care facilities, and adult group homes in Florida:

  • Anyone infected with COVID-19 who has not received two consecutive negative tests
  • Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath)
  • Anyone who's come in contact with an infected individual can't visit the above facilities within 14 days of coming in contact with that individual
  • Anyone who's traveled internationally must wait at least 14 days from your return before visiting the above facilities
  • Anyone who's traveled on a cruise ship must wait at least 14 days from your return before visiting the above facilities
  • Anyone who lives in a community where coronavirus has been confirmed must wait at least 14 days after exiting your community before visiting the above facilities

"These are important efforts to mitigate the risk to our most vulnerable population to COVID-19, which is our elderly population and particularly those who have underlying medical conditions," Gov. DeSantis said.

In addition, all state universities in Florida must switch to online classes as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics can now test for coronavirus under a doctor's orders, according to Gov. DeSantis, and the state is currently identifying labs to increase the state's testing capacity.

"We're doing tests at three different state labs. Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami," the governor said. "We have a lot of these labs throughout the state. Question is, we gotta line them up and make sure they're willing to do it."

In regards to the March 17 election, Gov. DeSantis raised concerns about certain polling locations.

"The election is going to go on. There are, though, in certain counties, sites where people will actually vote in an assisted living facility," said the governor. "We obviously view that as problematic."

DeSantis is asking local Supervisors of Elections to allow non-assisted living facility residents to go to different polling locations to cast their ballots.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a worldwide pandemic.

"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.

A pandemic is defined as an outbreak that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high number of people.

According to the White House, Florida will receive more than $27 million in federal funding to fight coronavirus. That money will be used by hospitals and county health departments to buy more COVID-19 testing kits and protective gear, and to pay for overtime for personnel, among other things.

RELATED: Sen. Rubio stresses importance of coronavirus test kits, anti-viral drugs

For the latest information about coronavirus in Florida, click here.