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Nursing home isolation to continue

According to state officials, contact visits with family members in long term care facilities...
According to state officials, contact visits with family members in long term care facilities could still be weeks if not months away. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: May. 13, 2020 at 11:04 PM CDT
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Long term care providers and state officials are working on a plan to eventually allow visitors back into facilities, but contact visits with family are weeks if not months away.

Florida’s 175,000 long term care residents have been isolated from visitors since mid-March.

They’re playing Bingo over the intercom, there are no visits from families and dinner is alone in their room.

“Having the isolation does come at a psychological and social cost,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

And it’s likely to continue.

We asked the Governor if a timetable given by Mary Mayhew, Secretary of the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, which suggested visits were likely months away was accurate.

“Well, I don’t think any of us really know,” said DeSantis.

The good news.

Among other states, Florida is at the bottom of new cases and deaths per hundred thousand.

But care facilities and prisons remain the sources of most new cases.

“I wouldn’t want to put a firm time table on it, and I also don’t want to give people false hope and say we could be in there in two weeks because I can’t guarantee that,” said DeSantis.

The industry itself is in the middle of a debate of what's possible.

Emmet Reed is the CEO of the Florida Health Care Association

“You’re going to to have to look at how long is a care center COVID free. Is the safe date 14 days? Is it 28 days? But I would say you’re looking somewhere at two weeks to 28-days COVID free before you can even think about letting folks come and visit. At least in a semi-normal manner,” said Reed.

The report on returning to some normalcy in long term care facilities is due next week.

Then it's up to the Governor.

The reality is that the isolation has kept the number of cases from exploding and right now, the Governor is not willing to take a chance on changing that.

We will be watching for the task force report and tell you how it might affect you and your family when it is released.