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DeSantis signs a bill that extends COVID protections for health care providers to June 2023

Gavel and a stethoscope
Flickr Creative Commons
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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Lawmakers last year passed a measure to help shield hospitals, nursing homes and other providers from lawsuits related to the coronavirus. The measure was set to expire March 29.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a bill that extends COVID-19 legal protections for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers to June 1, 2023.

The governor’s office, as is common, announced the signing without comment.

Lawmakers last year passed a measure to help shield health care providers from COVID-19 lawsuits, but the protections were set to expire March 29. With the pandemic continuing, the House and Senate during this year’s legislative session approved the extension to June 2023.

The extension took effect immediately with DeSantis’ signature Thursday.

The law (SB 7014) addresses lawsuits involving issues such as transmission of COVID-19 and treatment of people with COVID-19.

Health care providers can still face COVID-19 lawsuits. But the legal protections, for example, require a higher standard of proof for plaintiffs. In such cases, plaintiffs have to prove “by the greater weight of the evidence that the health care provider was grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct.”

Also, health care providers are shielded from lawsuits if they can offer “affirmative” defenses, such as compliance with government-issued health standards.

The House voted 87-31 to pass the measure, after the Senate supported it in a 22-13 vote.