TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has swept away four emergency orders dealing with visitors to nursing homes, just days before the Legislature is poised to pass a bill that would help shield the facilities from lawsuits associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The administration has told the nursing home industry to abide by recently issued federal guidelines that allow visitors to touch fully vaccinated residents.
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz issued an order on Monday rescinding the four orders he issued last year. The state initially barred nursing home visitors to try to prevent the spread of the disease but later issued orders that loosened restrictions, including an October order that allowed residents to leave facilities to spend time with family and friends for the holidays.
“To ensure the continued safety of individuals in care, every facility shall, at a minimum, maintain visitation and infection control policies in accordance with all state and federal laws and shall continue to monitor all (federal) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance,” Moskowitz wrote in the Monday order.
The administration did not publicly announce it had withdrawn the previous orders. The governor has made clear, though, in recent weeks that he wants nursing home residents to have greater visitation rights now that most residents and staff members are fully vaccinated or have been offered the vaccines.
“My view is you need to open it up and you need to do it,” he said adding that for residents the visits are “the type of personal interaction that makes life worth living.”
DeSantis also said all long-term care residents and staff members have been offered vaccines and that most of them have been fully vaccinated. As such, DeSantis said, the number of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents has plummeted.
“So let’s embrace that and treat these folks like they are immune,” DeSantis said.