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13 residents test positive for coronavirus at Bon Secours nursing home

The St. Petersburg facility says it is testing all residents and staff “out of an abundance of caution."

ST. PETERSBURG — Thirteen residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at Bon Secours Maria Manor Nursing Care Center and were transported to local hospitals on Wednesday, according to Pinellas County officials.

The facility, located at 10300 Fourth St. N, had been testing every resident and staff member “out of an abundance of caution,” a spokesperson said in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times.

The facility said it learned of the positive tests on Wednesday. The medical conditions of those 13 residents was not disclosed.

The nursing home, which had 243 residents, said it is isolating all remaining residents in their rooms and working with health officials to investigate the source of the infection.

For family members with loved ones inside Maria Manor, it was news they had been dreading.

“I was hoping that, by some chance, it would stay out of there,” said Molly Moorhead, whose 84-year-old father has been living at the nursing center since 2016. “But I know that, even with all the precautions they take, it’s a virus that spreads.”

Related: More than 1,300 coronavirus cases reported as health experts keep close watch

The coronavirus has hit seniors especially hard. A recent Times analysis found that 83 percent of Floridians who died from the virus were 65 and older, and 43 percent of deaths were tied to long-term care facilities. In Pinellas County, major outbreaks have spread at Freedom Square of Seminole, Gulf Shore Care Center in Pinellas Park and St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor.

Moorhead, a former Times staffer, said the facility has been in constant contact with families about COVID-19 testing and announced that two staffers tested positive a few weeks ago.

With the news of the recent outbreak, Moorhead said the facility told families that the new cases were all asymptomatic and the facility plants to test all residents and staffers a second time. Staffers will also begin to wear extra personal protective equipment, including face shields.

Bon Secours Maria Manor did not confirm this, but said they are following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Recent unannounced complaint investigations conducted at the nursing center in October 2019 and January by the Florida Department of Health turned up no violations, according to inspection reports.

Moorhead said she believes the facility is doing everything they can to contain the outbreak. But it’s hard not being able to visit and check up on her father Jim Moorhead, who was a columnist and entertainment critic at the Evening Independent. He has dementia and needs constant care, so she can’t contemplate bringing him home.

“The strangest thing is, he is just up the road and it feels like he’s so far away,” she said.

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