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Seminole retirement community suffers 20th coronavirus death, facility says

Another Pinellas facility grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak reported its ninth death, the CEO said.

A Pinellas long-term care center with one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the state reported its 20th death on Monday.

Freedom Square of Seminole Executive Director Michael Mason announced that the facility now has a total of 20 fatalities in memos sent this week to residents, families and employees of the retirement community. The memos don’t say how many of the deaths are of residents and how many are of staff members.

The Tampa Bay Times has confirmed 18 resident deaths and one employee death through medical examiner records, making a total of 19 deaths connected to Freedom Square’s facilities. Retirement community officials did not respond to questions about the discrepancy.

Related: More Pinellas nursing home residents die of coronavirus in one of Florida’s worst outbreaks

Freedom Square reported the grim milestone the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis began reopening the state, even as coronavirus deaths continued to climb. Statewide numbers released Tuesday showed the grimmest picture yet, with a record 113 fatalities reported, including 11 in the Tampa Bay region.

Meantime, St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor reported its ninth death, CEO Doug Fresh said Tuesday. Fresh said he is also awaiting results for about 100 employees who were tested for the virus Monday via AdventHealth.

“That was late, but we’re happy that we got it," Fresh said. “It’s been a rough ride.”

Two Sunstar Paramedics' supervisor vehicles are seen outside of St. Mark Village nursing home Monday, April 20, 2020 in Palm Harbor. Several residents were transported from St. Mark Village Monday to local hospitals. It is presumed the residents had tested positive for COVID-19 or coronavirus.
Two Sunstar Paramedics' supervisor vehicles are seen outside of St. Mark Village nursing home Monday, April 20, 2020 in Palm Harbor. Several residents were transported from St. Mark Village Monday to local hospitals. It is presumed the residents had tested positive for COVID-19 or coronavirus. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

The latest death reports released by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office show that two 98-year-olds succumbed to the virus.

St. Mark resident Jean Vanniere died Friday at Mease Countryside Hospital. She tested positive for the virus on April 23 at the nursing home and was taken to the hospital the next day. Vanniere had a history of high blood pressure, peripheral vascular disease, atrial fibrillation and dementia.

Freedom Square resident Avis Lilly died on Saturday in hospice care at the facility. He had shortness of breath and was tested for the virus April 24. The result came back negative. His condition worsened, and he was tested again Friday. That result was positive. Lilly had a history of high blood pressure and heart disease.

The District 5 Medical Examiner’s Office in Leesburg, which investigates deaths in Hernando County, released a report into the death of 67-year-old Marjorie Blackman, a nurse who worked at Freedom Square’s Seminole Pavilion nursing home. That is where most of the cases were concentrated on the Freedom Square campus in Seminole.

Blackman, of Spring Hill, tested positive for COVID-19 and died April 29 at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, according to the report. Her cause of death was COVID-19 pneumonia, said medical examiner’s director of operations Lindsey Bayer.

Freedom Square employees can still get tested, Mason said in the memos. As of Tuesday, 37 showed positive results, 582 were negative and the results of 15 tests were still pending.

Related: Plant City nursing home has 72 coronavirus cases, state says

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