ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Health officials in Orange County are working to contain what they’re calling a “significant outbreak” of COVID-19 at an assisted living facility in Ocoee.
Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that 66 residents and 30 staff members at Ocoee Health Center have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“I would like to let you know that we have a significant outbreak that we are following in an assisted living facility and we have some concerns,” Pino said.
Pino said of the residents infected, 22 have been hospitalized for concerns related to the virus.
Dr. Pino from @DohOrange discussed COVID outbreak concern at a long-term care facility in Ocoee. 66 positive cases and 22 hospitalized. 30 staff positive. Team is working to address and will update.— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) July 23, 2020
According to Pino, the first positive case at the facility was reported about one month ago, on June 25.
On July 2, the facility’s entire population was tested for the virus, Pino said.
News 6 spoke with several family members of patients staying at the long term care center, who told News 6 they were unaware of the outbreak until it was announced publicly by the county Thursday afternoon.
Pino said the facility will be visited by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration on Friday to help determine next steps in containing the virus.
Health officials said during the news conference that they will do everything they can to help contain the outbreak.
“We will descend on this with all the resources that we can muster to help this facility,” Pino said.
On Friday, an infection control team with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County was scheduled to visit as part of a hands-on review of staff and how to best contain the virus. Hazmat crews were seen walking the grounds throughout the day.
“They will observe them doing their work for 12 hours shifts to be able to identify that’s wrong,” Pino said. “[The staff] will receive education and training in the next couple of days.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Orange County health officials said they were not aware of any reported deaths linked to the outbreak.
Pino said an outbreak is defined as two or more cases in a specific area, however, one person is considered to be an outbreak in a long-term care facility because of how aggressively the virus can spread among the vulnerable population.
Under a pair of emergency rules issued last month by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, staff members at nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks.
News 6 reached out to Ocoee Healthcare Center officials about their efforts to contain the outbreak and received the following statement:
“We appreciate your interest to report on the current Covid 19 activity at Ocoee Healthcare Center, however, this continues to be a very fluid situation. We are continuing to work closely with Local, State and Federal agencies to deal with this ever changing situation. At this point, all residents and active staff members have been tested for the virus. Ocoee Healthcare’s dedicated health care professionals have implemented protocols to isolate those residents and staff that have tested positive for the virus from the general population. The facility has dedicated various wings of the facility solely to treat the Covid positive residents, implemented extensive cleaning procedures, and contained the remaining residents in their rooms. The facility has been in contact with resident family members to apprise them of the situation. Ocoee Healthcare Center is proud of their dedicated staff and their efforts to halt the progress of this virus and would like to express our deepest sympathies to those families or residents lost and affected by the virus at Ocoee Healthcare Center. Ocoee Healthcare, in coordination with State and Federal Officials, will continue to fight for the health and safety of our residents and staff during these trying times.”