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Charlotte County assisted living facilities face rise in COVID-19 cases

A concern for our most vulnerable living in isolation is the current uptick in COVID-19 cases inside Southwest Florida nursing homes.

First, the good news. Health care workers have administered more than 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Charlotte County.

But the bad news, coronavirus cases are going back up.

Dr. Joseph Pepe, administrator of FDOH- Charlotte explained, “We’re starting to see more spread on those different social groups … We are seeing a little bit of a surge in our nursing homes as well recently.”

Dr. Pepe said he’s keeping a close eye on assisted living facilities after the sudden spike this month.

If vaccine numbers are going up, why are cases not going down?

He pointed to a widespread case of “COVID fatigue.” Dr. Pepe added, it’s, “Just a lot of folks going out celebrating, but going out and not wearing masks.”

Steve Murray, spokesman for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs said, in regard to their facility, “We have no residents or staff members who have COVID-19.”

Murray represents the state’s veterans nursing home in Charlotte County. The facility’s been free of a COVID-19 case since early December.

What’s the secret?

Murray credits enhanced cleaning, appropriate isolation, and frequent testing. “We believe in rapid testing, testing as often as we can. Have both residents and staff so we know if there’s an issue that we can take appropriate action.”

Dr. Pepe stresses everyone needs to do their part to protect each other. “It takes is a handful of positive people to really spread and impact others.” To protect our neighbors and our most vulnerable.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
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