Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is now floating policy ideas to allow people in his state to visit loved ones living at long-term care facilities after being forbidden for several months because of the fear of spreading coronavirus to older citizens.
“I think a lot of the family members understand that these are difficult circumstances," DeSantis said during a discussion in Jacksonville, reports The Miami Herald. "Clearly they would not want policies to be done that would lead to massive amounts of people in these facilities getting infected."
However, he added that it would put people at ease to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and said, for example, family members who have COVID-19 antibodies should be able to visit their relatives.
His comments come as the state remains a coronavirus hotspot with thousands of new COVID-19 cases reported daily, and with hundreds of deaths and hospitalizations still happening.
DeSantis' office is forming a committee, including Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, that will discuss policies that could be used to allow safe visitations.
Brian Lee, a former Florida long-term care ombudsman who now leads an organization called Families for Better Care, said he agrees that it's a problem when people can't visit nursing homes, as family members are usually the first who see when proper care is not happening, but he doesn't agree with allowing visitors quite yet.
“In theory, I can agree with the governor,” he said. “I want families and spouses to be together. But I don’t want to do it at the cost of killing them. This is nothing more than window dressing, political grandstanding, and it’s going to wield death and destruction.”
However, the Florida Health Care Association, the largest nursing home industry group in the state, recommended in May that rapid tests be given to visitors, and that extra stockpiles be in place to protect residents and visitors.
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