Sarasota woman pleads with state to safely reopen nursing homes after losing father to coronavirus

8 On Your Side

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A local woman is making an emotional plea about Florida’s long-term care facilities after losing her father, a World War II veteran, to coronavirus.

“We are the voice for those that have none. So governor, it’s time to take action,” Sarasota County resident Kathy Lang said.

It’s been eight days since Lang lost her father, Ted Lang. She says the 96 year-old contracted coronavirus at his nursing home.

She wasn’t able to see him until the very end.

“He hadn’t opened his eyes for a whole week,” said Lang. “He opened his eyes, he tried to wave at us, we told him we loved him and it was okay.”

“Testing needs to go on at these facilities,” she added.

Florida’s nursing homes have been on lockdown since March 15.

Lang – like so many other families who’ve contacted 8 On Your Side – says there must be a way to safely resume visitation.

Dr. John Greene from Moffitt Cancer Center says the key is to have less of the virus in the community.

“What positivity rate should we have before we start talking about reopening these facilities?” Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi said.

“So everybody is citing the 5 percent as far as opening up,” said Dr. Greene.

While numbers are getting close to ideal now, the next few weeks will be critical.

“I would say the wisest approach would be wait and see what the schools do and how things go for a few weeks,” said Dr. Greene. “Then as all continues well, which could be say – a month from now – then nursing homes should consider the possibility of opening up.”

Dr. Greene says this segment of the population is extremely vulnerable to the virus; however, no visitation also leads to an increase in depression and mental illness.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ task force focusing on the safe reopening of long-term care facilities wrapped up another meeting on Tuesday. 8 On Your Side will let you know as soon as new visitation rules are adopted.

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