AARP worries Florida’s lifting of nursing home visitor restrictions is too soon

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: via WINK News.

Families are celebrating now that everyone can go inside nursing homes in the state again to see loved ones, but a group is saying that might not be the best idea.

With the coronavirus numbers in Florida going back up, AARP says this could be dangerous for people in assisted living.

We spoke to William Michael McBrian, who lives at Pacifica Senior Living, Thursday. We asked him what he will say and do when he can finally see his family again.

“Tell them I love them, which they already know, give them a big hug and a kiss and dance,” McBrian said.

That’s music to most families’ ears, but the pandemic isn’t going away anytime immediately, and that’s why AARP fears the impact of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order, which lifts previous visitation rules in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“The people living in these facilities are so vulnerable to this virus that introducing the virus into that facility is like running through a dry wheat field with a flamethrower,” said Dave Bruns, an AARP spokesperson.

This is a tough call for the people who run these facilities.

“We here,” said Summer Halstead, a staff member at Pacifica Senior Living. “We’re still taking baby steps.”

The governor did away with limits on how many people can visit and gave the OK for children to return.

“It is good news, but it comes at a risk,” Bruns said. “And we need to be clear-eyed about the risk.”

By its count, AARP says COVID-19 has killed 84,000 Americans in nursing homes since the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. The state reports 6,400 such deaths.

The governor claims, since he allowed limited visitation in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in early September, the number of COVID-19 cases has gone down. AARP’s statistics only include cases in nursing homes.

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