Task force for reopening long-term care facilities finalizes recommendations for Governor DeSantis

Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 18:43:29-04

For families with loved ones in long-term care facilities, you’re now one step closer to being able to see each other in person again.

On Wednesday, the Florida Task Force for the Safe and Limited Reopening of Long-Term Care Facilities approved their set of recommendations that will now head to the governor.

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“We’ve got a lot of people in our nursing homes and assisted living facilities who are suffering from significant depression. We’re talking about that generally, about the importance of mental health,” said Secretary Mary Mayhew, with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

Those recommendations include two types of visitation: “Essential Caregivers” and “General Visitation.”

Essential caregivers would include up to two family members or caretakers, who are designated in the health plan for each person in the facility. These caregivers would help provide basic needs like bathing, dressing, eating or emotional support. Essential caregivers could also visit the facility regardless of whether the facility has new COVID-19 cases.

General visitation on the other hand would include up to 5 visits per week for each person in the facility, as long as there have not been any new COVID-19 cases over the previous 14 days. General visitors would have to maintain 6 feet of distance from the person they are visiting.

In both cases of Essential Caregivers and General Visitation, making appointments and wearing PPE would be requirements.

During the meeting, Florida State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees emphasized the risks people age 65 and older face if they develop COVID-19.

He said that while these recommendations do require masks to be worn, masks only prevent 70 percent to 80 percent of particles from spreading, which is why mask-wearing is recommended in conjunction with social distancing.

Rivkees recommends that even though essential caregivers can come within six feet of their loved ones, extra caution should be taken.

“All measures should be taken to minimize contact within a six-foot distance,” said Surgeon General Scott Rivkees.

These recommendations will now head to the Governor’s Office before receiving final approval. The task force did not give a timeline for this process but said they expect it to be soon.