COVID-19: Who Is Protecting South Florida Retirement Communities?

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel / By: Andrew Borya

As the new coronavirus spreads through South Florida, people over 65 are among the most at-risk populations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Wednesday, state health officials said 19 long-term care facilities in Florida have either a suspected or confirmed case of the virus. One case killed a 77-year-old man.

Kelley | Uustal attorney Don Fann said it is vital that senior facilities take all the precautions they know to be effective for the coronavirus — even if it makes life difficult for residents and their visitors.

Fann’s 94-year-old mother is in a 24-hour hospice care facility in Fort Lauderdale. On Wednesday, they said they would only allow one guest a day to enter the facility. Although Fann is nervous about not being able to visit his mother as frequently as he would like, he understands. “Every time they let someone in from the outside, it is a risk.”

Fann said facilities and communities with large concentrations of seniors must juggle a lot in the coming weeks. In addition to keeping spaces closed and clean, screening and, in some cases, turning away visitors, he said they will also have to keep tabs on the aides, caregivers and drivers who work closely with the residents during the day but go home each night — possibly exposing themselves to the virus.

“If somebody is not thinking about them, they’re making a mistake,” he said.

Legally, Fann said senior facilities must take reasonable steps to secure residents from the coronavirus based on CDC guidelines. He said DeSantis and other local leaders have helped by issuing mandates about canceling social gatherings and events. In essence, giving them a minimum bar to meet.

“They know they’re toast if they don’t at the very least do the fundamentals,” Fann said.

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