ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In the past few days, more and more cases of COVID-19 are being reported in long-term care facilities within Orange County, leading the area’s health director to identify the locations with outbreaks on Monday.
Last week, Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County shared details of what he called a “significant outbreak” at Ocoee Health Center that involved 66 residents and 30 staff members who tested positive for the deadly respiratory illness.
At that time, there were no reported deaths linked to that specific outbreak but as of Monday, Pino said there have been four deaths at the facility.
On top of that, health officials are monitoring outbreaks at two additional long-term care facilities: Guardian Care Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and Terra Vista Rehabilitation.
At Guardian Care, 34 of the 175 staff members have tested positive, 40 out of the 74 residents have tested positive and there has been 13 hospitalizations and one death among that group.
At Terra Vista, 26 out of 140 staff members have tested positive, 33 of 59 residents have tested positive and there have been 10 hospitalizations and one death among that group.
Pino said doctors are working to determine the sources of the outbreaks.
“We probably will know what may had happened. But in some cases, you know, it’s just an infectious disease, and any little violation of infectious control practices as simple as washing your hands between patients can set off an outbreak like this one because the virus has this ability to transmit so fast,” Pino said.
For residents who may have loved ones in one of the affected facilities, Pino suggested contacting the facility for more information about their relative because the health department cannot release medical information to anyone other than the patient unless that person has power of attorney.
Speaking in Orlando Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the local outbreaks.
“We’ve put more resources towards protecting our long-term care facilities than anyone in the country from the very beginning. I mean, when we stopped the visitation in the middle of March, it was a tough decision because it leaves the families not being able to see their loved ones,” DeSantis said. “We required all staff to wear PP and then we provided PPE. So the state of Florida has provided over 10 million masks.”
He said overall, facilities across the state have abided by the rules.
“We’ve had some facilities that have just dropped the ball. There’s no doubt about it that’s happened. But I would say most facilities that have had a case have had a relatively limited number of cases that were identified and isolated appropriately,” DeSantis said.
He also noted that workers at these facilities are tested every two weeks and there are 22 COVID-only facilities across the state where patients can be transferred to for treatment and isolation if they don’t need a hospital.
He has plans as well to begin developing a protocol at some point to once again allow visitation at long-term care facilities now that rapid tests are available.
Thus far, Orange County has experienced a cumulative total of 27,393 COVID-19 cases and 174 deaths and the local recovery rate is at 79% as of Monday evening.