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St. Mark Village hit by coronavirus outbreak

St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor reports more than 20 cases
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Posted at 7:05 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 15:17:26-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Another long-term care facility in Pinellas County is being hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier in the week, 13 residents and 8 staff members from the St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor had tested positve for coronavirus. Since then, 9 more tested positive for COVID-19 and 7 of them were taken to the hospital.

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Doug Fresh, the chief executive of the St. Mark Village, tells ABC Action News he is working to bring in the Florida National Guard to help test around 100 employees for COVID 19. He also says the first positive case was on April 10 originating in a skilled-care wing unit.

St. Mark Village has since transitioned their rehabilitation center into a COVID-19 care and isolation unit, separated from all other units and their Independent Living Center. Fresh says there are currently no cases in the Assisted Living, Memory Care, Highland Lakes Assisted, or the Independent Living Center at St. Mark Village.

It comes just days after paramedics rushed dozens of residents out of the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at Freedom Square, where there have been at least 62 cases of COVID-19. Crews ended up evacuating the entire building for cleaning and decontamination.

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Fresh says at St. Mark Village, patients who tested positive were isolated from other patients.

St. Mark Village and Freedom Square are two of 44 Tampa Bay area nursing homes/assisted living facilities/long-term care centers named on a list released by Governor Ron DeSantis' Office Saturday. There are more than 300 nursing care centers statewide with COVID-19 cases.

In Seminole, Freedom Square leaders are still working to test hundreds of residents for COVID-19. Crews spent the day Monday wiping down surfaces and hauling in air scrubber machines at the Seminole Pavilion.

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Barbara Namias’ mother lives at the retirement community and is still waiting to get tested. Namias and her husband are hoping to take her out of the facility once the test results come back.

“I’m so worried and I fear every night that I may not see her again if she gets COVID-19. It’s really stressful. I just want her to get tested,” she said fighting back tears.

Freedom Square leaders say it could take days, or even weeks, for all staff and residents to get tested.

According to the Governor's list of nursing homes with COVID-19 cases, a second building at Freedom Square now has positive cases, as does Lake Seminole Square, a nearby sister property.