HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic expands in South Florida, more residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are being hospitalized with coronavirus-like symptoms and authorities are not being forthcoming about the locations.
It’s unclear how many residents at long-term care facilities in the state have died of COVID-19, the infectious respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. In South Florida, the hardest hit has been Atria Willow Wood, where six residents of the assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale died.
The Florida Department of Health reported 56 of the state’s cases confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in long-term care facilities and 35% of those cases are in Broward County. But aside from Atria Willow Wood, state authorities have not released the names of the facilities affected.
Concerned relatives who have received notices from the facilities have reported more cases to Local 10 News. State officials reported the CDC confirmed 20 cases at long-term care facilities in Broward County. According to the operator of Atria Willow Wood, 18 residents there tested positive.
On Friday, Local 10 News Investigative Reporter Jeff Weinsier visited five facilities reporting new cases.
The relatives of residents at three facilities in Broward’s city of Hollywood are aware of new cases at Lincoln Manor, Hillcrest Healthcare Rehab and the Five Star Premier Residences of Hollywood. The operator of Hillcrest Healthcare Rehab reported two cases and Five Star Premier Residences reported one case.
Hollywood has a large cluster of cases in Broward County. According to the state’s Friday evening report, the CDC confirmed 219 cases in Hollywood, but it’s unclear how many of those are at long-term care facilities.
In Pembroke Pines, the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs oversees the Alexander Niniger State Veterans Nursing Home, where two military veterans were diagnosed with COVID-19, but the cases have not been confirmed by the CDC.
In Miami-Dade County, Sterling Aventura reported one patient was diagnosed with COVID-19. According to state officials, the CDC has confirmed 16 cases in Aventura, but officials did not specify how many of those are linked to long-term care facilities.
Also in Miami-Dade, an employee of Miami Jewish Health in Little Haiti tested positive for COVID-19.
Gov. Ron DeSantis faces a challenge. About 75% of adults in Florida are vulnerable to the deadly disease, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. State officials reported about 30% of the cases in Florida are patients who are age 50 and older.
Epidemiologists say most COVID-19 patients experience mild or moderate symptoms and are able to recover, but most of the severe cases in the United States are patients age 60 and older and patients with chronic health conditions.