Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterates commitment to curbing the spread of COVID-19 in long term care facilities

DeSantis announced new partnership with care center Monday

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defends response to coronavirus pandemic

MIAMI, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news briefing Monday in Miami to discuss COVID-19 updates and said he would continue to allocate resources to long term care facilities across the state to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in vulnerable demographics.

“Today we’re at the site of the old Pan American Hospitals, now the Miami Care Center, and we’re doing that to highlight a new partnership between the Miami Care Center the Avante Group Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers in the state of Florida to create 150 bed COVID-19 dedicated nursing home,” DeSantis said. “This is the 12th of its kind throughout the state of Florida.”

According to the governor, the center has been operating since the beginning of July and has admitted 18 patients with more on the way, and the current ability to staff up to 70 beds, but plan to up that staffing number up to 150 beds.

“This is very important so, in South Florida, you now have the Miami Care Center, you have a facility and Broward, that’s COVID only. And then you have two in Palm Beach County, that are COVID only. So that’s a pretty significant number of beds, to be able to care for people who are COVID positive but care for them in a way that they’re not spreading horrible seniors, and these long term care facilities, you know one trend that we’ve been seeing,” DeSantis said.

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DeSantis said the partnership to create the care center came as Florida worked to combat the spread of COVID-19 in communities of older individuals, especially by upping health and safety measures at long term care facilities.

“I think we’ve seen in areas of the country where you had really high fatality rates. Part of that stemmed from policies in which long term care residents who were COVID positive in the hospital. The medically stable were sent back into nursing facilities, who didn’t have (where to) isolate them. And so, as we know, with this virus it spreads, and in those instances, it was spreading amongst the most vulnerable,” DeSantis said.

“We recognize that that would be something that would be very problematic to have a COVID positive nursing home residents be put back into a facility where you couldn’t have proper isolation, would be a recipe for more spread, obviously more hospitalizations and more fatalities and so we prohibited discharging COVID positive patients back into nursing facilities, and that was the right decision to do -- saved a lot of lives by doing that as prevented outbreaks.”

DeSantis said that Mary Mayhew, Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, led the charge in establishing facilities where patients could find a balance of care that landed between a long term care facility and a hospital.

“This serves both as a step up from a long term care facility that may not have the ability to appropriately isolate a COVID positive resident, but also a step down from a hospital setting where you may have somebody who’s COVID positive, but they are medically stable and don’t require that level of medical attention. And so having this is really an important tool,” DeSantis said.

The governor also said that consistent COVID-19 tests would continue to be administered at long term care facilities on a two-week basis.

“We’ve done the testing of the residents and the staff from April through the beginning of June. We’ve now have a rule in place per Secretary Mayhew that all staff members of long term care facilities, need to be tested every two weeks. That’s like 180 - 190,000 people,” DeSantis said. “So those tests are being administered as we speak, they’ve been distributed I think about 10 days ago, you’re gonna start getting more and more of those results come in.”

DeSantis said that with the testing being done in long term care facilities, the positivity rate may climb.

“So we anticipate seeing a higher positivity rate, but by doing the testing allows us to isolate the staff member, so that they don’t spread it to the residents,” DeSantis said. “So, all in all, we’ve done to protect the vulnerable here in the state of Florida. This is another big step in that direction. And I think it’s going to be an important tool to help protect vulnerable (people).”

As of Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 213,794, total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic reached the state on March 1, as well as 16,425 total hospitalizations. The state reported a total of 3,841 Florida resident deaths and 102 non-resident deaths Tuesday.

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About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.