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More than 50 test positive for COVID-19 at Apollo Health nursing home in St. Pete

The St. Petersburg elder care center reported zero cases among its residents last week, according to state records.

ST. PETERSBURG — More than 50 people have tested positive for coronavirus at the Apollo Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Ten employees and 41 residents of the center have contracted COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, according to Greystone Healthcare Management, the St. Pete nursing home’s parent company.

Last week, the elder care center located at 1000 24th Street N. reported zero cases among residents and only four employees who tested positive, according to data collected by the Florida Department of Health.

Related: A Pinellas memory care unit treated COVID-19 patients on-site. More than half were infected.

At least five residents have ben transported to area hospitals, health department records show. A spokesperson with the elder care facility did not elaborate on their condition, or the care of the remaining positive patients.

“These positive results do not necessarily mean residents are experiencing symptoms,” said Karen Marotta, senior director of communications for Greystone Healthcare Management in an email. She went on to say that the company is “extremely proud” of its caregivers across the country who are “going above and beyond during this difficult time.”

State officials with the Agency for Healthcare Administration, which oversee nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida, conducted an infection control and prevention survey at the Apollo Health facility on May 15, where deficiencies were cited in a 32-page inspection report. Inspectors recorded that employees failed to wash hands after leaving “resident care area,” wear required personal protective equipment before assisting certain residents and clean a “screening device used for staff and persons from outside services.”

In a particular incident, state officials observed an employee walk out of a resident’s room without a protective face shield. When they asked her about wearing a protective covering, the staff member responded, “I was wearing one.” When asked again where her shield was, she didn’t respond until inspectors followed her outside of the facility. She then said she forgot to wear a face shield in at least two residents’ rooms.

Related: Florida reports an additional 5,266 cases, 28 deaths from coronavirus

Apollo Health had previously “implemented heightened preventative measures” related to the coronavirus pandemic, said Marotta, which include providing employees with personal protective equipment and restricting visitors under Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines.

The majority of Florida’s positive COVID-19 cases are in people 65 and over. The state’s assisted living facilities have been particularly vulnerable, where infection spreads quickly.

The 99-bed Apollo Health center is a skilled nursing facility. It offers both short- and long-term rehabilitation care for seniors.

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