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Eight staffers at Freedom Square nursing home test positive for COVID-19

The sprawling complex was the subject of a Tampa Bay Times investigation in December, which examined how the coronavirus spread rapidly through two of its nursing homes.
The Freedom Square Seminole Nursing Pavilion, 7800 Liberty Lane, on April 17, 2020, in Seminole.
The Freedom Square Seminole Nursing Pavilion, 7800 Liberty Lane, on April 17, 2020, in Seminole. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jul. 16

SEMINOLE — Eight staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Seminole Pavilion nursing home, according to Michael Mason, executive director of Freedom Square of Seminole. The 15-acre complex includes nursing homes, assisted-living, short-term rehabilitation and retirement facilities.

Half of the infected staffers had been vaccinated, Mason said on Friday. Another staff member who works at Freedom Square’s rehabilitation facility also tested positive, he said.

The sprawling complex was the subject of a Tampa Bay Times investigation, which examined how the coronavirus spread rapidly through two of its nursing homes last year, including Seminole Pavilion, killing 40 people.

All of the infected staff members have been quarantining at home “since becoming symptomatic,” Mason said.

The Florida Department of Health said Friday it could not immediately provide information about the percentage of staff or residents who have been vaccinated at Freedom Square of Seminole.

None of the residents of Seminole Pavilion, who Mason said immediately underwent testing, have tested positive for the virus.

Results for residents of Freedom Square’s rehabilitation facility are pending, according to Mason, but all that have been returned so far have come back negative.

“We will continue monitoring and testing to ensure the safety and well-being of our entire community,” he said in an emailed statement.

Residents of long-term care facilities have been particularly vulnerable to the virus — accounting for over a third of Florida’s overall COVID-19 deaths.

Florida’s COVID-19 cases numbers have been rising and they accounted for 20 percent of all new cases in the nation last week. Almost all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths nationally in recent weeks have been among unvaccinated people.

Public health officials have emphasized that it’s still critical to get vaccinated. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House press briefing Friday that the country’s current outbreak is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”