Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking new measures to protect the elderly from the coronavirus.
The governor held a news conference on Wednesday at the State Capitol in which he outlined new rules for visitors of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and similar venues.
According to the Florida Department of Health, 26 Florida residents have tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19, and two have died.
On Wednesday, Gov. DeSantis announced that he is temporarily banning the following people from visiting nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult family care homes, long-term care facilities, and adult group homes in Florida:
-Anyone infected with COVID-19 who has not received two consecutive negative tests
-Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath)
-Anyone who has come in contact with an infected individual can’t visit the above facilities within 14 days of coming in contact with that individual
-Anyone who has traveled internationally must wait at least 14 days from your return before visiting the above facilities
-Anyone who has traveled on a cruise ship must wait at least 14 days from your return before visiting the above facilities
-Anyone who lives in a community where coronavirus has been confirmed must wait at least 14 days after exiting your community before visiting the above facilities
“These are important efforts to mitigate the risk to our most vulnerable population to COVID-19, which is our elderly population and particularly those who have underlying medical conditions,” DeSantis added.
In addition, he announced that LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics can now test for coronavirus under a doctor’s orders. The state is identifying labs to increase the state’s testing capacity.
“We’re doing tests at three different state labs. Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami,” DeSantis said. “We have a lot of these labs throughout the state. Question is, we gotta line them up and make sure they’re willing to do it.”
In terms of the March 17 primary election, the Governor explained, “The election is going to go on. There are, though, in certain counties, sites where people will actually vote in an assisted living facility. We obviously view that as problematic.”
With that in mind, he is asking local Supervisors of Elections to allow non-assisted living facility residents to go to different polling locations in order to cast their ballots.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link says most of the 17 polling places at assisting living facilities will be moved. Her her office plans to send letters to voters in precincts where a new location has been determined, and will update the office website, post information on social media and place signs at the old locations.
“Our goal is to reach out to everybody before (they go to vote) so nobody goes to the wrong place,” she says.
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a worldwide pandemic on Wednesday. A pandemic is defined as an outbreak that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high number of people.
“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.
According to the White House, Florida is slated to receive more than $27 million in federal funding to fight the virus. The money will be used by hospitals and county health departments to buy more COVID-19 testing kits and protective gear, and to pay for overtime for personnel, among other things.