16 additional deaths reported last week at Northeast Florida long-term care facilities

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Are long-term care facilities getting the appropriate testing to help identify and slow the spread of the coronavirus inside them?

There were 16 additional coronavirus-related deaths reported last week at long-term care facilities in Northeast Florida.

In Duval County, Park Ridge Nursing Center reported an additional resident death, bringing its total to six. The Cove at Marsh Landing reported one resident death and two staff deaths, all of which were the first deaths reported at the facility. Brookdale Atrium Way 1 reported one staff death and one death under investigation -- both were the first deaths reported there. Taylor Care Center reported its first two resident deaths. And River Garden Hebrew Home for the Age reported its first resident death.

In Clay County, Life Care Center at Wells Cross reported an additional resident death, for a total of two. Consulate Health Care of Orange Park reported on death under investigation -- the first one there.

In Columbia County, Solaris Healthcare Lake City reported one resident death -- the first one there. Robert H. Jenkins Jr. Veterans Domiciliary Home of Florida reported two additional staff deaths for three staff deaths total.

Lakewood Nursing Center in Putnam County reported one additional resident death for two total.

In Alachua County, Hunter’s Crossing Place-Assisted Living reported one resident death -- the first one there.

News4Jax has reached out to a few of these facilities, asking about the rising number of deaths and what they are doing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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A list from the Florida Department of Health shows a total of 57 facilities in Duval County, 12 of which have reported a combined 52 deaths in residents and staff.

According to an Associated Press report published last week, roughly 2,550 long-term care residents and staff have died overall, accounting for about 45% of all virus deaths in Florida.

Families for Better Care said they need molecular testing to identify those who are asymptomatic and positive. If not, they said the virus will spread and more people will die.

Brian Lee with Families for Better Care said if facilities can’t identify who has the virus, there could be more deaths.  

“The terminology they need to start using in the kit they have to start deploying in the machines. They have to give to the nursing homes are molecular based machines. That’s the difference, that’s the golden ticket,” said Lee.

According to the FDA, molecular diagnostic tests individuals who are symptomatic, pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. 

The FDA said while antigen tests diagnose an active infection faster than molecular tests, antigen tests are more likely to miss an active infection.  

Lee said states like Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina have contracted companies for molecular testing. 

“What needs to be different about the way we are carrying on inside these facilities? Governor DeSantis, President Trump, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid and with the agency for healthcare administration all need to do collectively is to get the nursing homes the right equipment, the right testing kits, and then get out of the way and let the healthcare practitioners take care of our loved ones and keep them safe,” said Lee.

He says once residents and staff are identified, they need to properly isolate, and quarantine. 

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