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Florida coronavirus: State hiding total number of cases in nursing homes

Investigations

TAMPA (WFLA) – It’s clear COVID-19 can spread like wildfire inside a nursing home.

That’s why 8 On Your Side has fought to get the state to release data on COVID-19 cases in those facilities. Now, a Sarasota attorney says the state is not telling us the whole story.

For months now, families have told 8 On Your Side, nursing homes are not releasing information about infections in real-time.

As a result, Pam Fox says, she never had a chance to save her mother, Goldie Cummings.

“They did not give families the opportunity to make a choice,” said Fox.

Elderly law attorney Andre Boyer has been following our reports as we pressed the state to reveal outbreaks in nursing homes.

The Sarasota attorney has also been tracking the total number of infections for his clients.

“It was a count since the beginning,” said Boyer. “Clearly, it was concerning.”

Boyer was concerned about the rising number of elderly residents and staff members contracting coronavirus.

Using the Florida Department of Health’s website, Boyer recorded the total number of cases.

But suddenly, on Monday, that information was deleted.

Right now, Florida appears to be hiding the total number of coronavirus infections at nursing homes since the start of this pandemic.

“Maybe it’s not adding up, why should anyone care?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“There’s no such thing as too much information in this case,” said Boyer.

“Without this information, and knowing what the rise of infection is in a particular county, or even across the state, residents can’t know what their level of risk is, family members can’t know what their level of risk is,” Boyer added.

Florida says they were streamlining information but as 8 On Your Side pointed out, deleting information is not the same as streamlining it.

Below you will find the statement from the Florida State Emergency Operations Center:

The state has compiled a list of long-term care facilities with current available information reported by each facility’s staff to the Department via the Agency for Health Care Administration’s Emergency Status System. This list reflects real-time data that tracks how COVID impacts long-term care facilities in Florida on a day-by-day basis.

This information was streamlined in order to provide a more comprehensive report of active COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities in Florida, and the state remains committed to providing the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 cases in Florida.

The impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes is clearly conveyed in the current report. The report contains information on the type of long-term care facility, when the information was provided, number of residents with COVID-19, number of residents who were diagnosed with COVID that have been transferred out of the facility and the number of staff that has COVID.”

-Joint Information Center on COVID-19 for the State of Florida

We will continue to press the state to reveal the total number of cases in long-term care facilities along with the number of deaths at specific nursing homes.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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