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Gov. DeSantis Considers Allowing Floridians With Coronavirus Antibodies to Visit Family in Nursing Homes

Photo: Claudia Van Zyl
Photo: Claudia Van Zyl

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this potential policy reversal at a press conference with Mary Daniel, who became a dishwasher at RoseCastle assisted living just so she could visit with her husband who has Alzheimer's.

DeSantis said he still needs to discuss this solution with Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew and the state Department of Health. 

But he said he’s reaching out to the federal government about how testing of visitors could be done on-site like it currently is for staff and residents.

“I’m going to follow up with the White House about the status of the point-of-care tests to see. Again, that’s only going to be a certain number of the facilities. But we’ll take a look at that. We're also going to look at maybe expanding the caregiver designation and how that would work.”

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DeSantis said the extension would come with strict guidelines and training on health precautions that would have to be followed during visits including wearing PPE. 

But he said this model had already worked successfully in states like Indiana.

“You know with this essential caregiver, we may be able to just add them into our current testing apparatus. All the tests go to the facilities, it’s self-swab, you send it in. So you’d basically just have to go by the facility, pick it up, swab, send it in every two weeks.”

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The governor closed nursing homes to the public in mid-March during the beginning of the pandemic. 
Florida reported fewer than 6,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, but it continued to trend high when it came to its daily death toll.

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Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.