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COVID-19 Continues to Hit Florida Nursing Homes Hard

On May 11, two nursing homes in Pinellas County were forced to evacuate 15 people to local hospitals after they tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

This is just one of many instances of COVID-19 wreaking havoc on Florida’s nursing homes. On the same day, Fair Havens Center in Miami Springs was placed under an emergency moratorium on admissions after 128 cases were confirmed in the facility. According to the Tampa Bay Times, a nursing home in Seminole has suffered two dozen deaths—one of the largest fatal outbreaks in an elder care facility in the entire state.

Nationally, the situation is just as bleak. The New York Times reported that a shocking one-third of all U.S. deaths from the coronavirus have been nursing home residents or workers.

What makes nursing homes so susceptible? Our Florida nursing home abuse attorney investigates.

Nursing Homes Combine Many COVID-19 Risk Factors

Nursing homes are highly susceptible to coronavirus infections for many reasons, including:

  • Individuals over 65 are at high risk for infection
  • Individuals who suffer from chronic medical conditions (like heart disease) are also at-risk
  • The virus appears to be airborne or at least spreads through respiratory droplets, which are transmitted easily in enclosed spaces where people are in close proximity to each other
  • Residents and staff must often come into close contact with each other
  • Residents often share rooms and communal spaces
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff may be in short supply
  • Tests for the coronavirus are also hard to come by, so suspected infections and asymptomatic cases are difficult to confirm
  • Many nursing homes are understaffed
  • Some staff members may be employed at multiple elder care facilities at once

All of the above factors combine to make nursing homes exceedingly fertile ground for the deadly virus.

How Nursing Homes Can Lessen the Spread

Because of the high risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in nursing homes, Florida has issued an emergency order prohibiting visitation except by family and friends “during end-of-life situations or for the purposes of health care or legal services,” according to guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC has also suggested that all nursing homes:

  • Restrict all volunteers and non-essential healthcare personnel
  • Prohibit group activities and communal dining
  • Implement active screening of residents and staff for symptoms

Other steps nursing homes can take include:

  • Providing paid sick leave for all employees
  • Providing staff with PPE
  • Educating staff on proper preventative procedures
  • Screening anyone entering the facility for symptoms
  • Sanitizing the facility thoroughly and regularly
  • Leaving windows open for improved ventilation

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, long-term care facilities like nursing homes will hopefully become safer as more becomes known about the virus and its spread. At The Pittman Firm, P.A., we understand how trying it can be to know that your loved one is a resident in an elder care facility where they may be more at-risk to the coronavirus. If you have any questions or concerns about your loved one’s health and safety, feel free to contact us.

Our firm remains fully operational during this time. To schedule a free consultation with our Florida nursing home abuse attorney, contact us here. If you or a loved one have been infected with COVID-19 due to negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

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