PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – When Theresa Putnam learned the county had declared a state of emergency and nursing homes and assisted living facilities would be forced to limit visitation, she wasn’t surprised.
Putnam owns Patrick Manor in St. Petersburg and had already put restrictions in place.
“You have to understand, we have to protect our family. Because, I am privately owned and operated and it has a lot to do with my family,” said Putnam. “These people who live here are my family.”
This week, she started receiving calls from concerned family members. “Saying what are you going to do? Are you going to let us come visit? Have you put anything in place,” said Putnam. She and her staff got together and decided to restrict visits to the facility.
Surprisingly, she said, most weren’t angry or upset.
“So, when we got on, we did like a little call down and called all of our family members and our guardians, etc,” said Putnam. “And saying at this time we’re not going to receive any visitors.”
On Friday, Pinellas County Commissioners attended an emergency meeting to discuss declaring a state of emergency. County Administrator Barry Burton explains what such a declaration does.
“It gives the county administrator the ability to waive purchasing requirements to where I can buy supplies, I can access emergency stockpiles through the state emergency response system,” said Burton. “I can also though, limit public gatherings.”
Burton says it also allows him to limit access to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
“The reason we took this action today was one, to really focus on our vulnerable population,” said Burton. “Make sure that they’re limiting access, that they have screening procedures to keep our residents safe.”
In Pinellas County, there are 13,500 people who live in the county’s 177 assisted living facilities and 71 nursing homes.