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COVID-19 deaths in Florida long-term care facilities now account for nearly half of deaths

More than 700 deaths reported in four weeks
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Posted at 3:29 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 18:30:35-04

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — ABC Action News is committed to holding the powerful accountable and providing you with information you need as the state works to rebound.

As we continue to track COVID-19 death rates in Florida, the percentage of deaths associated with long-term care facilities is rapidly rising.

After Florida news media, including ABC Action News, pushed for the release of information about COVID-19 deaths and infections at specific long-term care facilities, the state released the first lists four weeks ago.

At the time, those deaths made up 28% of the statewide coronavirus death total.

Since then, the percentage of COVID-19 cases associated with long-term care facilities has grown to nearly half.

95-year-old Clayton Snare, a retired banker and U.S. Navy veteran, is among 11 St. Mark Village residents who have died from COVID-19.

“When it hits you and your family, it gives you a whole different perspective,” said Snare’s son, Clayton Snare, II.

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Clayton Snare's 95th birthday, surrounded by multiple generations of family and friends at St. Mark Village before the coronavirus pandemic.

Snare said his father’s death in late April was a sad ending to a life.

“When I found out I couldn’t be with him in the last hours of his life, I took it rough, and so did the whole family,” Snare said.

St. Mark Village is one of seven Tampa Bay area long-term care facilities, which state records show is associated with 10 or more COVID-19 deaths.

Seminole Pavilion, in Pinellas County, has the most coronavirus deaths of any long-term care facility in Florida with 25.

And on Thursday, the state confirmed it has had more than 1,000 deaths associated with long-term care.

In four weeks, the number of Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities with confirmed COVID-19 cases grew from 335 to 533.

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living released what it called a “Long-Term Care Workforce Roadmap” earlier this week.

https://www.ahcancal.org/facility_operations/disaster_planning/Documents/AHCANCAL-Workforce-Roadmap.pdf

In the document, sent to governors, state and federal officials, the organizations asked for certain regulations to be waived so facilities can hire more staff. It also asked for states to make long-term care facilities a priority to receive personal protective equipment, and for states to make long-term care facilities a priority for timely testing.

Those organizations say testing residents and staff at all Florida facilities just once would cost $25 million, and the costs to test nationwide would run an estimated $440 million.

https://www.ahcancal.org/facility_operations/disaster_planning/Documents/State%20by%20State%20Breakdown_COVID%20Testing%20for%20Nursing%20Homes%205.20.20.pdf

Kristen Knapp, of the affiliated Florida Health Care Association, says it’s essential long-term care facilities receive the support they need to handle the pandemic.

“The majority of the facilities, they’re doing the right thing. Our focus is on resident safety, and that’s what we’re going to continue to focus on until we get through this,” Knapp said.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would make $4.9 billion available to help long-term care facilities to deal with the crisis.

This week, the State of Florida also finally agreed to release complete reports from the Medical Examiners Commission, which track all COVID-19 related deaths in Florida, not just those of Florida residents.

To see total confirmed COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities, click the following link:

http://ww11.doh.state.fl.us/comm/_partners/action/report_archive/ltcf/ltcf_20200521.pdf

To see deaths associated with Florida long-term care facilities, click the following link:

http://ww11.doh.state.fl.us/comm/_partners/action/report_archive/ltcf_death/ltcf_deaths_20200515.pdf

If you have a story you think the I-Team should investigate, email us at adam@abcactionnews.com.