1 in 5 coronavirus deaths in Florida are in nursing homes

The state first began reporting deaths in longterm care facilities Wednesday evening and now posts 126 deaths.

1 in 5 coronavirus deaths in Florida are in nursing homes

Roughly one fifth of the state’s 633 COVID-19 deaths have been residents or staff at long-term care facilities.

The state first began reporting deaths in longterm care facilities Wednesday evening and now posts 126 deaths, which includes four new deaths overnight.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis has touted the state’s transparency in reporting its coronavirus data, his administration has faced pressure to be more transparent with nursing home numbers. Officials have deflected questions, citing HIPPA regulations, and the Miami Herald reports that the Governor’s legal counsel asked the paper’s lawyers to drop a suit seeking location information.

Miami-Dade County — which also leads the state in deaths, 163, and total cases, 8,131 — has the highest concentration of cases and fatalities in longterm care facilities. There, 26 people among 272 confirmed cases have passed away.

In Palm Beach County, nearly as many residents and staff have passed away, 24, but among only 120 cases. And in Broward County, 23 of the 141 cases in longterm care facilities have turned fatal.

In total, the state has confirmed 1,394 COVID-19 cases in longterm care facilities statewide.

The new data comes after DeSantis announced Monday that 10 National Guard strike teams would begin preemptively entering nursing homes to spot check residents and staff. The state already sends rapid emergency support teams, a procedure DeSantis said federal health officials have identified as a model for other states.

Last month, DOH confirmed the state’s first death in a nursing home, which it later confirmed was at Atria Willow Wood in Fort Lauderdale.

While the number of new COVID-19 cases statewide appears to have plateaued, if not turned downward, the number of new cases in nursing homes continues to grow exponentially.

At the end of March, DOH confirmed 72 cases in nursing homes and 6,741 statewide. Now halfway through April, the state has a little more than three times as many cases statewide, 22,897 total, while nursing homes have nearly 20 times the number of confirmed cases.

The elderly and people with underlying health conditions are the most at risk for developing severe cases of COVID-19. Floridians aged 65 years and older make up 82% of the state’s coronavirus deaths but only 25% of its cases.

South Florida, which is the state’s leading hot spot for the coronavirus, is not the only locale with high concentrations of the virus in nursing homes. Suwannee and Leon counties report 71 and 64 cases respectively, though the only of those cases to turn deadly were three in Suwannee. And in Pinellas County, Florida Politics reported one nursing home transferred nearly two dozen residents to hospitals, with more infected but isolating at home.

This article first appeared in Florida Politics. 

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