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COVID-19 Deaths Increase to 6 at Assisted-living Facility; Longtime Broward Doctor Also Dies

Six residents of an assisted-living facility in Broward County have died from COVID-19, including three new deaths that were reported Thursday.

The death toll at Atria Willow Wood in Fort Lauderdale has been rising since the first resident died there on March 16, and others have tested positive for the disease.

At this point, 16 residents have tested positive, including the six victims, according to the company that owns the center on West Commercial Boulevard. Results from two more tests are pending.

The facility released the following statement:

“Sadly, we learned today that three residents who tested positive have passed away. Our thoughts are with the families of these residents during this difficult time.

As of March 26, in total, our community has had sixteen residents who tested positive, including the six who passed. We’ve also had eleven residents who tested negative. Three of those residents have since passed away, unrelated to COVID-19. We are awaiting the results for two other residents who have also been tested. We remain in close communication with our residents and families and continue to provide our support as we navigate this unprecedented situation together.

Our primary concern right now is supporting our residents and staff and doing everything in our power to keep them safe. We will also continue to work with the Department of Health and Agency for Health Care Administration as we monitor and respond to this ever-changing situation.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has blamed Willow Wood for the deaths. He says that “construction workers, staff and cooks who were ill were not screened” and allowed to socialize with residents, despite warnings for such facilities earlier this month.

The company insists the facility began implementing precautions on March 4 to protect its residents, including screening visitors and workers.

Meanwhile, a South Florida doctor is the first medical professional in the region to die from coronavirus.

Dr. Alex Hsu, who practiced internal medicine in Broward for 36 years, died from the virus, County Medical Examiner Dr. Craig Mallak said Thursday.

Hsu, a well-respected member of the medical community, was an active medical staff member at Northwest Medical Center from 1995-2017,” hospital spokeswoman Jessica Waxman said in a statement. “He positively touched many of our patients’ lives throughout the years, and he will truly be missed. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.”

Broward County currently has 505 confirmed cases of coronavirus, second only to Miami-Dade throughout the state.

Despite the additional deaths at Atria Willow Wood, and that of Dr. Hsu, state data still shows only three deaths in Broward.