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Long-term care facilities to reopen to visitors with new rules | I-Team Investigates

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After months of keeping visitors out of long-term care facilities in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis opened the door for family caregivers and others to return.

But I-Team Investigator Adam Walser has uncovered there are still concerns about infection control issues inside nursing homes and assisted living facilities that the state so far hasn’t been able to answer.

“Part of having a healthy society is understanding that human being seek affection,” said Gov. DeSantis at a roundtable meeting concerning the opening of long-term care facilities Tuesday.

Gov. DeSantis announced plans to allow general visitors into long-term care facilities if at least 14 days have passed since a resident or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.

Here are the complete rules from the report issued Tuesday:

“This is incentivizing good practices on the part of the facilities because if you do that, then you’re gonna be able to have the visitation and obviously your residents’ family members will be very happy with that,” Gov. DeSantis said.

But the I-Team has uncovered it is unclear how well facilities have performed when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19.

We uncovered one local assisted living facility cited by the state for failing to follow control procedures to mitigate COVID-19.

RECOMMENDED: Assisted living facility cited after COVID-19 positive resident wanders from room, falls on patio

We asked the state to tell us how many long-term care facilities have been cited for similar issues. More than two weeks after our request, we are still waiting for answers.

To date, 4,678 people associated with long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19… more than 42 percent of the state’s total reported COVID-19 deaths.

Whistleblower attorney Jessica Moore, who has sued long-term care facilities, believes deaths could have been prevented with better infection control.

“COVID-19 is definitely exposing all of the cracks and deficiencies in the system and the fact that there was very no room for error before this,” Moore said.

The governor announced all visitors to long-term care facilities must wear personal protective equipment and pass a health screening.

But they won’t require tests at all facilities.

If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email us at adam@abcactionnews.com.

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