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DeSantis Announces Statewide Changes, Nursing Home & ALF Closures, To Combat Coronavirus

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling upon state agencies to suspend licensing renewal requirements, as well as hire more staff for the Department of Health among other changes. This comes as more Floridians are testing positive for the coronavirus.

DeSantis is asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to send back home the 61 Floridians currently being quarantined at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. These people were on the same cruise ship as someone who tested positive for Covid-19, resulting in a quarantine.

"Many of these Floridians are elderly... It's a difficult situation for them. So our Department of Health is working with HHS to make sure these individuals get home safely. They will be tested. They will have to do the self-isolation, but I think it's much better for everyone if they can be safely brought back and be able to get back to their homes," DeSantis says.

Additional measures to combat the coronavirus include recruiting and hiring epidemiologists and public health staff to assist the Florida Department of Health.

"These folks at the Department of Health have been working around the clock, this is very labor-intensive when you're talking about these types of investigations," DeSantis says.

AHCA will be extending all existing nursing home and ALF licenses for 90 days. 

"We don't want any distraction from patient care right now.  So we're just going to move the bureaucratic hurdles back to hopefully on the other side of this crisis," DeSantis says.

The governor is also extending visiting restrictions for nursing homes, ALFs, and other facilities that cater to the elderly and medically frail for the next 30 days.

"There will, of course, be exceptions made for compassionate visitation," DeSantis says.

He's also directed the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to suspend driver's license renewal requirements for 30 days along with state licensing and registration renewal requirements for existing professional licenses. 

Broward County has the most cases of Covid-19 in the state of Florida. DeSantis says the vast majority of these people caught the virus via international travel. However, there are three people with coronavirus who did not travel abroad.

"When you have unlinked cases that is evidence of community spread," DeSantis says.

These three cases are still under investigation. Plans for a mobile hospital are underway. It would be able to care for up to 250 people.