COVID-19 deaths are rising in Florida’s nursing homes AARP says

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

AARP says death rates from COVID-19 doubled in Florida over the Thanksgiving holiday. The spread of the virus in our nursing homes is also higher than the national average. So, AARP wants lawmakers to do something to protect those in nursing homes.

AARP is saying that coronavirus has exposed that our way of caring for vulnerable seniors needs to change in Florida. Dave Bruns is a spokesperson for AARP. “Eldercare facilities are petri dishes for contagion,” Bruns said.

Bruns argues that having two people to a room and a large common area where everyone eats is not exactly a recipe for a healthy lifestyle, especially for seniors.

40% of COVID-19 deaths in Florida began as infections in nursing homes or long term care facilities. But only 2% of Florida’s population lives in such facilities.

“Taxpayers are already shelling out 79% of the value of nursing care, are we getting our money’s worth? Is the legislature and the state and federal regulators cracking down on this industry so we get the high-quality care that we’re paying for? Doesn’t look like it,” said Bruns.

The AARP wants lawmakers to push for more affordable in-home care and smaller, more home-like nursing facilities. Kevin Ahmadi runs Gulf Coast Village in Cape Coral and The Preserve in Fort Myers

“Let’s hypothetically say that they do find the money,” Ahmadi said. “Do they have the staff? Do they have the personnel to actually care for those individuals?”

AARP argues that the state does indeed have the money to pay the staff. Lawmakers just need the will.

“It requires a different approach,” said Bruns. “But 8,000 dead? We need to change something.”

WINK News contacted every lawmaker who represents Southwest Florida to get their remarks on AARP’s plan. State Representative Mike Giallombardo responded and said he can see both sides and is up for any plan that makes sense.

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