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DeSantis announces visitation changes at long-term care facilities during roundtable in Fort Myers

Gov. Ron DeSantis held a roundtable Thursday in Fort Myers regarding long-term care facilities.

He announced the state will ease restrictions even more on visitations to long-term care facilities throughout the state, including allowing children to visit their loved ones.

Florida last month began allowing visitors to return to long-term care facilities, but there were restrictions.

Speaking at Amavida Living on Gladiolus Drive, DeSantis said he wants families to have the freedom to be together.

“We need to be able to have family connections. This is very, very important.”

The governor also said outdoor visitation will be allowed, even if a resident or staff member at a facility has recently tested positive for COVID-19.

These facilities will also no longer require social distancing for “compassionate caregivers.”

Until Thursday, to visit someone in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you had to be on a list restricted to five people. That’s gone now, so people longing to see their loved ones can do so – in most situations.

“That first hug that I got with my dad was just priceless,” said Christina Griswold, whose father is in a long-term care facility.

Now, thousands of others may soon experience that closeness again, including children.

“It’s not just absences of disease that makes someone healthy. It is the social connection, it’s the physical fitness, it’s mental health, it’s all of these things that go into what we should really consider health,” DeSantis said Thursday.

For Brenda Tate’s family, it’s precious time that can’t be bought back. Her husband has Alzheimer’s and is at Amavida Living.

“My concern has been to miss critical time with him, that he could be remembering me, remembering our children, our grandchildren,” Tate said.

Lifting the restriction is welcome news to Amavida nurse practitioner Jaritza Smith.

“It’s going to be even better for them; their cognition is going to continue to improve or stabilize,” she said.

“The first order did a lot of good for the residents and their families, and I’m really looking forward to the next step and being able to celebrate the holidays,” Griswold said.

DeSantis said one of the reasons he wanted to issue the executive order Thursday is because of the holidays and how important it is for families who want to be together.

Some facilities may have other restrictions in place because of the virus, so you should check with them before you go.

Watch the roundtable in full below or click here.

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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