Nursing homes and other so-called long-term care facilities in Northeast Florida are receiving help from a state emergency team to curb COVID-19 outbreaks.
The Rapid Emergency Response Team is based out of the Clay County Emergency Operations Center in Green Cove Springs. The county has the sixth most confirmed positive cases at these types of facilities in Florida: 115, a number that's nearly doubled in a week.
The state team will service 13 counties in North Florida: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Union.
Combined, the North Florida counties have 26 of the state's 313 long-term care facilities with confirmed cases, and their residents and staff account for 12.7 % of the state’s long-term care infections.
The Rapid Emergency Response Team consists of four managers, three infectious disease specialists and 21 nurses, according to Clay County Director of Emergency Management John Ward. They will work in the 13 counties over the next month.
Local and state officials had repeatedly said they would not release the names of the facilities where people have been found positive out of privacy concerns.
However, new federal rules require that any facility that has a positive case must notify residents and their representatives within 12 hours. If three or more residents or staff show respiratory symptoms, residents and their representatives must be told within 72 hours. Updates are required weekly.
On Saturday, the state released the names of the long-term facilities with positive cases. For Clay County, there were six facilities:
- Brookdale Orange Park
- Diamond ALF
- Governors Creek Health And Rehabilitation
- Heartland Health Care Center - Orange Park
- Isle Health And Rehabilitation Center
- Seagrass Village Of Fleming Island
Duval County has 58 coronavirus cases linked to long-term care facilities. That's the 10th most in Florida, spanning eight facilities:
- Brookdale Avondale
- Camellia At Deerwood
- Cathedral Gerontology Center
- Fannie E. Taylor Home For The Aged - Taylor Manor
- Jacksonville Nursing And Rehab Center
- Lanier Rehabilitation Center
- Palm Garden of Jacksonville
- Wyndham Lakes Jacksonville
In addition to the state team, the National Guard is being deployed to test residents and staff at the facilities around the state, partially to find how many people there are positive but aren’t showing symptoms.
The National Guard testing began South Florida and will move up the state, according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
To mitigate the chances of outbreaks, the facilities statewide are still not allowed to accept visitors. Some facilities are trying to find other ways to let residents communicate with family, like FaceTime or Skype.
Statewide, over 24% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have stemmed from long-term care facilities.
Most have come from South Florida counties. Miami-Dade County has 388 positive cases and 42 deaths at long-term care facilities, while Broward County has 214 cases and 31 deaths in its facilities.
According to the News Service of Florida, there were 81 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities on April 1. As of Tuesday morning, that number has jumped to 2,001.
Sky Lebron can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.