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177 Florida nursing homes report COVID-19 cases among residents or staff

The federal data released Thursday tallied cases in the week ending July 18.
In this July 17, 2020 photo, Margaret Choinacki, 87, blows kisses to her friend Frances Reaves during a drive-by visit at Miami Jewish Health in Miami.
In this July 17, 2020 photo, Margaret Choinacki, 87, blows kisses to her friend Frances Reaves during a drive-by visit at Miami Jewish Health in Miami. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Jul. 30

More nursing homes across Florida are reporting coronavirus cases among staff and residents as the delta variant continues to spread across the state.

In total, 177 of Florida’s nursing homes had employees or residents who tested positive for COVID-19 in the week ending July 18, according to federal data released Thursday, the most recent numbers available. Twenty-five of those homes were in Tampa Bay. The state has 705 nursing homes.

One nursing home resident at Northbrook Center for Rehabilitation and Healing in Hernando County died of the virus in the same weeklong period.

The two facilities in the state with the most active infections in the report were Orchid Cove at Dade City, with nine residents and nine staff infected, and Seminole Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Services, with eight staffers infected.

The latest report from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services signals a jump in nursing homes with active cases. In the previous week, ending July 11, just 115 nursing homes reported active cases.

The updated federal data lags by about two weeks — failing to reflect the spread in recent days.

Earlier in the pandemic, Florida provided daily reports about cases at individual long-term care facilities. But in May, the state Department of Health stopped publishing this data. Health agency officials did not respond Friday to requests for comment about whether they plan to resume sharing this information now that cases are on the rise in Florida.

The federal report also does not include information about outbreaks at other types of long-term care homes, such as assisted-living facilities. Nor does it include the 26 Florida nursing homes that failed to submit data to the federal government.

“Assisted-living data is such a blind spot for us,” said Jamie Champion, spokesperson for AARP Florida. “Thank goodness we have nursing home data [from the federal government], but assisted-living facility information is also very important.”

Florida ranks second lowest in the nation for vaccinations among nursing home staffers, according to the recent Medicare and Medicaid data.

In that report, 44 percent of Florida nursing home staffers were fully vaccinated, compared to 59 percent nationally. And 107 Florida nursing homes said that 25 percent or less of their staffers were fully vaccinated.

In contrast, 71 percent of residents in Florida nursing homes had received their shots.

“The industry standard for a good staff vaccination rate of a nursing home is 75 percent,” said Champion. “It continues to be a concern because the movement is not happening in Florida. I would question if nursing homes should be looking at providing stipends, bonuses or a day off so a person can recover after getting a vaccine.”