Florida coronavirus: State releases number of deaths at specific nursing homes

8 On Your Side

TAMPA (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side is getting results for Florida families with loved ones in nursing homes.

Viewers reached out to us desperate for information but the state was keeping the number of deaths at each facility secret, until now.

A newly released chart gives a snapshot of the death toll at each home.

Families tell 8 On Your Side they had been left in the dark for months who have struggled to get basic information about their loved one’s nursing home.

Each turning to 8 On Your Side because Florida kept the human toll of the pandemic a secret.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor is pushing for transparency. She represents Florida’s 14th Congressional district, which includes Tampa and parts of Hillsborough County.

“I just emailed the Department of Health and the Governor’s office, they’re still not telling us the number of deaths at each nursing home, do we have a right to know this information?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi last month.

“You bet we have a right to understand the full impact of coronavrius on our neighbors in skilled nursing and in nursing homes,” said Rep. Castor. “The state of Florida needs to do a better job on transparency and providing all that very important public information.”

8 On Your Side has been pressing Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Health, and Agency for Health Care Administration for information.

Last week, the state finally identified nursing home hot spots, telling us the number of cases at each facility.

But, the number of deaths was hidden, until now.

“You’re only going to be able to tackle and contain this pandemic if we understand the full impact of who has contracted the disease and who is dying from it,” said Rep. Castor.

Locally, the impact has been alarming as the report detailing deaths shows Tampa Bay area nursing homes top the list.

In fact, four of the five most deadly outbreaks happened in Tampa area facilities.

Governor DeSantis announced a new measure to protect seniors at a news conference in Sarasota on Tuesday.

“We are actually doing an actual emergency rule,” said Gov. DeSantis.

From now on, every single nursing home residents must be tested before they’re discharged from the hospital to the home.

“Even if you’re not having COVID, we are now requiring a negative test to be discharged and sent back to the nursing home,” said Gov. DeSantis.

There’s a problem with this list. It is only updated weekly.

For example, one facility in Polk County is showing 12 deaths but 8 On Your Side confirmed 18 people have died at this home.

We are still pushing the state to reveal the total number of cases in nursing homes.

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