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AARP Florida: Questions Remain About Reopening Sunshine State Elder-Care Facilities to Visitors

Governor’s Actions Stop Short of Requiring Quick-Turnaround Testing for Visitors

AARP’s Florida State Director, Jeff Johnson, issued the following statement today on AARP’s concerns about Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision to approve recommendations from a state task force on the reopening of elder-care facilities to visitors:

“A week ago, we said that AARP had questions about why now is the time to reopen elder-care facilities to visitors.  After today’s actions, we still have the same questions.”

“AARP recognizes that families of long-term care residents have been torn between two worries: worry that their loved one would contract the deadly coronavirus and worry that their loved one was suffering emotional, mental and physical decline from the forced isolation mandated by the state’s lockdown order. “

Senior woman sitting on the wheelchair alone -

“While it is true that the number of active cases in elder-care facilities has declined somewhat from its high point in recent weeks, the virus is still circulating in our communities.  We would note that cases were far lower in May and June than now, yet the ban on visitation was not changed.  If this is sound policy now, why was it not sound policy then?”

“Many facilities in Florida now have the capability of conducting quick-turn testing, thanks to action by federal officials.  If state officials would supplement these efforts, it could be possible to provide quick-turn testing for all staff and visitors, not only to long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted-living facilities but also smaller group homes where younger residents with disabilities live.”

“Again, AARP recognizes this step will be welcomed by those who have seen spouses and parents suffer significantly from the isolation of the last five months.  We all hope that this approach works.  But we continue to ask:  Should we be trusting our older residents’ safety to hope?”

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