3 of Jacksonville’s 4 COVID-19 deaths linked to one assisted-living facility, city report shows

All 3 victims were men in their 80s, including an 83-year-old man who was the first reported COVID-19 death in Jacksonville.

Camellia at Deerwood assisted living facility. (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four people have died in Duval County since the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Florida, as of Monday afternoon, and three of them were men from one Jacksonville long-term care facility.

According to a recent report from Jacksonville’s Emergency Preparedness Division obtained by News4Jax through a public records request, three of the deaths were residents of Camellia at Deerwood, an assisted-living facility on the city’s Southside.

All three of the victims were in their 80s, including an 83-year-old man who was the first reported death connected to COVID-19 in Jacksonville.

At least seven residents of Camellia at Deerwood tested positive for the new coronavirus, News4Jax has confirmed.

The outbreak led some families to pull their loved ones from the facility and prompted a response from a Florida Department of Health incident command team last week.

According to a report from March 25, the most recent report given to News4Jax, the command team has conducted more than 200 tests on residents and staff at Camellia at Deerwood, including tests on at least 11 people who were showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Testing was completed March 26, but the details of those results were not included in the report.

Long-term care facilities in Northeast Florida, like Camellia at Deerwood, have become focal points for health care officials since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Out of 15,000 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the United States, 147 have at least one resident with COVID-19, according to a release published last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As of Monday evening, there were 67 cases in long-term care facilities in the state, including 19 in Duval County, seven in Baker County, two in Bradford County and two in Clay County. That means over 44% of the reported COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities in the state are in Northeast Florida. Broward County has confirmed the most cases (21).

According to the report from the city, at least one other person staying at an assisted-living facility in Clay County has died due to the virus. The report does not name the facility where the death occurred. There have been five total deaths in Clay County associated with COVID-19, according to the health department.

There have also been four positive cases reported at the Macclenny Nursing & Rehab Center in Baker County, but no confirmed deaths, according to the latest numbers from the state.

Taylor Residences on Chester Avenue has one confirmed case of COVID-19. (WJXT)

News4Jax did learn last week that Taylor Manor on Chester Avenue in the San Jose area has one patient who tested positive for the virus. The facility said in a statement that the health department has tested other residents who are negative for COVID-19 and continue to test as necessary.

As for the other reported cases in Duval, Bradford and Baker Counties, state and federal officials will not name the facilities where people got sick or say how many sick patients they have.

“We wish to reassure you that the number of cases reported in senior living and long-term care in Duval County include other locations within our county, not just Camellia at Deerwood,” Executive Director Renea McGrath said in an email to families and residents on Thursday.

News4Jax has requested the name of any other facilities experiencing outbreaks in Northeast Florida from the Florida Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office but have yet to get a reply.

The state DOH, AHCA, and — on the federal level — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, refused to disclose the names of the nursing homes or assisted living facilities that have infected residents, citing privacy concerns.

About the Authors:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.