As Florida completes its second week in Phase 1 of Recovery, the numbers continue to be on our side. The Florida Department of Health reports that 1 in every 38 people have been tested, and positive cases are continuing to show a downward trend.
Following Governor Ron DeSantis's Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan for Recovery, Florida will enter "Full Phase 1" on Monday, May 18, 2020.
Full Phase 1 includes the following provisions:
- Gyms and Fitness Centers may operate up to 50% capacity.
- Museums and Libraries may operate at 50% capacity if permitted by local governments.
- Retail may operate up to 50% capacity indoors.
- Restaurants and Food Establishments may increase indoor capacity to 50% with proper social distancing.
- Elective surgeries may continue if a facility has adequate PPE, and hospital bed surge capacity.
- Barber shops, hair salons and nail salons may operate while adhering to safety protocols.
- Professional sports venues may open and operate for games, events and training.
Protecting our most vulnerable citizens remains the focus of this plan, as Governor DeSantis recently put forward Executive Orders and emergency rules to protect those in our long-term care communities. This includes:
- Visitation in long-term care facilities will remain prohibited to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- Hospitals are required to test all individuals before discharge to long-term care facilities, regardless of whether the individual is symptomatic.
- Nursing homes must now transfer out any COVID-19 patients, if the facility is unequipped with appropriate ventilation systems and is unable to properly isolate and care for them.
- Nursing homes and Assisted Living Facilities must allow entry to state workers for purposes of mandatory testing of residents and staff, including recalling staff who are not working that day to the facility for testing.
- The Florida Division of Emergency Management has deployed a first of its kind mobile testing lab to further assist the state's proactive testing efforts in long-term care facilities. The lab can support up to 500 tests per day with a 45-minute turnaround.
While necessary to protect residents from the spread of COVID-19, these restriction come at a cost to seniors, who are struggling with the isolation and missing their families. My heart goes out to them, as well as the nursing staff who are working tirelessly to provide the highest level of care for their residents. These caretakers have been on front lines of this public health emergency, and I am so grateful for their commitment and hard work. I look forward to protective procedures being available soon so that families can reconnect. We will get through this, together.
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