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Pinellas County working with fire departments to inspect 200+ long-term care facilities due to COVID-19

Posted at 10:51 PM, May 11, 2020

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Residents from two Pinellas County nursing homes were evacuated due to a coronavirus outbreak, a county official confirmed Monday night.

According to the county official, a total of 15 COVID-19 positive patients from the St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Gulf Shore Care Center in Pinellas Park were taken to the hospital.

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Health officials and first responders are working with the two facilities regarding "infection control and testing," according to the Pinellas County official.

According to data on the Florida Department of Health's website, five positive residents were transferred from Gulf Shore Care Center, while ten patients tested positive at St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation. The two facilities are among 34 in Pinellas County to have COVID-19 positive cases, according to the state's data.

Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton says they're working with local fire departments to inspect all 250 long-term care facilities in the county.

"We’ve done almost 700 inspections over the last couple weeks, and we’re working in partnership with the area fire and rescue who’ve been amazing,” said Burton.

Burton says they want all facilities to have the personal protection equipment, or PPE, they need and have infection control procedures in place to help limit the spread.

"Our first and foremost is care for the residents. I’m sure [facilities] want to provide the same goal," said Burton. "We want to make sure that we put the resources out there necessary to care for those residents, address any shortcomings they have in their procedures, and make sure they have the proper equipment to care for the residents.”

St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation sent the following statement regarding the cases:

"St. Pete deeply cares about its residents and seeks to use every available avenue to help protect their health, safety, and welfare. We have transferred some suspected positive residents to the area hospital and transferred some residents last evening under the guidance and direction of the Florida Department of Health to another facility. We will continue to work with and seek guidance from all governmental agencies and hope that together we will have more success than the thousands of other skilled nursing facilities across the United States and the globe that have come before us."

Gulf Shore Care Center also sent a statement regarding cases at it's facility:

"Gulf Shore Care Center is a five-star facility and has won the Eli Pick National Award for Excellence two years in a row. We have highly trained and professional staff and are accustomed to achieving high quality outcomes. That said, the new COVID virus does not discriminate and has ravaged communal living environments throughout much of the United States. In attempt to help protect our wonderful residents, we have sent those few, who are suspected of having the new COVID virus, to the hospital for testing and treatment. We currently have no identified COVID positive residents in-house. We thank our peers who have heroically stepped up in unprecedented times to meet the challenges of the COVID pandemic. We will continue to be guided by the CDC, AHCA and the Florida Department of Health guidelines and directives. While no healthcare community is immune and all that have been affected have been incredibly challenged, we want our families and our residents to know that we are working hard to do our best with the limited knowledge that currently exists and thank them for their patience, support and the outpouring of positivity in these challenging times."