Gov. Ron DeSantis issues stern warning to assisted living facilities

Sick and non-screened workers mingled with residents at Atria Willow Wood, DeSantis says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In his Friday briefing, Gov. Ron Desantis sent a warning to the operators of assisted living facilities saying they need to take responsibility for their residents during the deadly pandemic.

The Florida Department of Health reported a second person died in Broward County after testing positive for COVID-19. The 92-year-old man was a resident at the Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale.

“Construction workers, staff and cooks who were ill were not screened and were allowed to work their jobs and mix with the residents and that is exactly what you are not supposed to do,” said Desantis.

The first death was confirmed earlier this week and the patient was identified as Richard Curren, 77, a resident of the Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale.

“Over the past few days, we have had three residents from our Willow Wood community pass away,” Mike Gentry, Atria Senior Living’s senior vice president of care, said in a statement. “It is confirmed that two of the tests were positive for COVID-19 and one was negative. Our thoughts are with all of the residents’ families during this difficult time.”

More than a dozen residents of the facility have since been transported from the grounds after experiencing symptoms related to the coronavirus.

Desantis said that law enforcement is monitoring the situation at the facility and that the state has requested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention embed an infectious control specialist at Atria Willow Wood. The Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees and regulates assisted living facilities in Florida, now has an embedded staff at the facility around the clock, according to Desantis.

“If you are an operator at one of these facilities, you need to take responsibility for your residents and you need to take action to protect your people,” said Desantis.

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