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Fifth death tied to Seminole nursing home; residents test positive in other buildings

The coronavirus has been found in other buildings at the sprawling retirement community.
Officials prepare to keep track of the patients moments before 39 residents are evacuated from Freedom Square of Seminole last week. Five nursing home residents have died of the coronavirus in an outbreak at the sprawling retirement community.
Officials prepare to keep track of the patients moments before 39 residents are evacuated from Freedom Square of Seminole last week. Five nursing home residents have died of the coronavirus in an outbreak at the sprawling retirement community. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Apr. 22, 2020
Updated Apr. 22, 2020

As more scrutiny falls on the Seminole nursing home, which now has had five residents die from COVID-19, Freedom Square of Seminole told residents Wednesday that at least seven residents in other buildings on the sprawling campus also have contracted the disease.

A 90-year-old woman became the fifth resident to die after authorities evacuated at least 95 residents last week from Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation.

Positive tests came back for six residents in what the company calls the “Rehabilitation & Health Center”and for one resident in the independent living center, according to a memo obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, that executive director Michael Mason sent to patients’ families on Wednesday. No positive tests were reported in the “Assisted Living & Memory Care" facility, the memo said.

Related: Fourth coronavirus death tied to Seminole nursing home

Mason also told residents, families and employees they will see more people on the campus on Friday, saying: “Great news! We will be welcoming the arrival of the National Guard." The director said Monday that discussions were underway for the National Guard to do further testing of all employees and symptomatic residents.

The latest COVID-19 death of a Freedom Square resident was late Monday, according to a Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office report. Jean Lasner, 96, died just after 10 p.m. at the Largo Medical Center. She had a history of breast cancer, hypertension and diabetes and recently had tested positive for the virus, the report says.

Since the outbreak last week at Freedom Square, Mason has publicly provided test results only for employees and residents in the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation building. Overall, at least 54 residents and 33 employees have tested positive, according to the memo. Results are pending for 287 other employees, it said.

Related: Should you pull a family member out of a nursing home right now?

The resident in the independent living center was hospitalized for an issue not related to COVID-19, the memo said, and then tested positive for the virus at the hospital.

Sharon Amorosa, an emergency room nurse on Florida’s east coast, said her family is worried about her mother, who lives in the Freedom Square independent living center. She said her family fears residents will become complacent after Mason said the resident tested positive at the hospital. Her family wants every person on the campus tested.

“This again is a deceitful portrayal of how the disease spreads, giving residents a false sense of security,” Amorosa said.

Mason disagreed in a statement, saying: “I’m sorry to hear that they feel that way. We are providing accurate and factual information.”

Times Staff Writer Kathryn Varn contributed to this report.

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