The State of Florida is moving forward with a limited reopening of long-term care facilities. Gov. Ron Desantis made the announcement at a roundtable meeting in Jacksonville Tuesday, as he met with members of his long-term care task force.
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The governor, who at one point appeared to be fighting back tears, spoke of the stark consequences of isolation and his sorrow for families who were unable to say goodbye to loved ones during the lockdown.
"It's a tragedy that happened,” DeSantis said. “I think we had to do it, but I'm not happy about it and I was resolved to do something about it. So that's what we've done."
Along with approving a plan for essential and compassionate caregivers, the recommendations DeSantis signed off on will allow general visitation for facilities with no new cases of COVID-19 for at least 14 days. Visitors will also be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Task force member Mary Daniel, the Jacksonville woman who took a dishwashing job to get inside her husband’s assisted living facility, calls the decision a relief for thousands of families across the state.
“Absolute relief,” Daniel said. “I mean I felt at several times that I was going to cry.”
Daniel said she appreciated the Governor’s thoughtful compassion throughout the process and is eager to now visit her husband, without having to wash dishes first.