More than 120,000 staff members of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been tested for COVID-19 during the past week under a pair of emergency rules, and about 2.8 percent have tested positive, Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters Wednesday.
“We are actually happy with that,” DeSantis said, noting that is far below the statewide positivity rate.
The governor said the goal is to find asymptomatic staff members and prevent them from infecting residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
While touting the 2.8 percent positivity rate, DeSantis said there had been a COVID-19 outbreak among staff members in a long-term care facility in “North Central Florida.” DeSantis did not name the facility but said 50 staff members tested positive.
“But this is kind of the exception, where you have that kind of spread among the staff. But we are finding examples of one or two, sometimes three or four (infected staff). If you are testing every two weeks like we are, you are going to be able to identify more and more of those before it spreads widely inside the long-term care center. And that really is the name of the game. And that will absolutely, if you can prevent outbreaks there, will absolutely save lives.”
Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew issued a pair of emergency rules mandating that every nursing home and assisted living facility in the state test staff members every two weeks, effective last Thursday. The rules do not apply to long-term care facilities or group homes for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
DeSantis said the state also has 15 nursing homes that have dedicated 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients who no longer require hospitalization. The governor said another nine nursing facilities are expected to “be on the way very soon,” offering another 600 beds.
“That’s going to be 1,600 beds in various parts of the state, we’ve got a lot of them in Southern Florida, and I think that will be that will be really, really important,” he said.