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Florida will start naming nursing homes, long-term care facilities with COVID-19 cases

Pinellas County

Freedom Square of Seminole rehabilitation facility announces more COVID-19 cases

SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) – For days, 8 On Your Side has been pressing Gov. Ron DeSantis to name nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Florida with cases of coronavirus.

The state’s health officials repeatedly refused until late Saturday afternoon.

“I have now directed (Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees) to determine that it is necessary for public health to release the names of facilities where residents or staff members had tested positive for COVID-19,” Gov. DeSantis said during a news conference in Tallahassee.

During his press conference, DeSantis mentioned that as of right now, the number of positive cases associated with nursing homes and assisted living facilities is 1,627. That number includes both patients and staff members.

In the Tampa Bay area, there are over 50 nursing homes and long-term care facilities with confirmed coronavirus cases.

  • 4 – Hillsborough County
  • 25 – Pinellas County
  • 5 – Polk County
  • 2 – Pasco County
  • 1 – Citrus County
  • 8 – Manatee County
  • 10 – Sarasota County
  • 1 – Highlands County

Before this announcement, the daily reports from the Florida Department of Health would only list known COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities by counties without the specific names of facilities.  

In Pinellas County, 8 On Your Side is learning about more confirmed cases tied to the outbreak at the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation at Freedom Square. At least three residents have died, according to the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Executive Director of Freedom Square Michael Mason said in a statement 91 of 237 employees have been tested and 13 tested positive for the virus.

Mason announced three more residents transported to hospitals have tested positive and an additional two residents are awaiting test results.

“The highly contagious nature of COVID-19 has proven to be an incredible challenge for health care facilities across the country,” Mason said in his statement. “We anticipate that we will see additional residents and employees test positive.”


WHAT TO KNOW:

  • Florida is reporting 85,926 cases and 3,061 deaths
  • Florida in Phase Two of reopening
  • Cases have spiked in past week, Gov. DeSantis says due to increased testing

Dennis Keaton’s 103-year-old mom who had been staying at Freedom Square has been in a hospital since Thursday.

“She’s scared to death,” he said over the phone. “The poor old woman is scared to death. She doesn’t understand why her family can’t even see her.”

Keaton told 8 On Your Side the state should have started naming nursing homes with COVID-19 cases earlier during the pandemic.

“That’s my biggest concern they are not being transparent,” he said minutes before the governor’s news conference. “So nobody knows until all of a sudden, oh my god everybody’s got it. Your relative has it that probably shouldn’t have gotten it, shouldn’t have been exposed to it if they’d just been more upfront from the beginning.”


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Keaton said he’s hoping the governor’s announcement about releasing more information to the public will help him find a new home for his mom at a local facility without any COVID-19 cases.

“They’ve given me a couple of options of places I wouldn’t send my dog to,” he said.

After midnight, the Pinellas County EMS and Fire Director Craig Hare said they finished transporting residents from Freedom Square to local hospitals. He said a total of 104 residents were transported over four days.

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