TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration was caught by surprise Tuesday to learn that a 30-day executive order banning visitation at nursing homes was set to expire.
Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew told nursing home providers that the state would move quickly to ensure the 30-day ban, first announced March 14, stays in effect. “We will get a communication out,” said a surprised Mayhew.
“It does not expire. But clearly, we need to get another communication out that makes it clear that that restriction on visitation is still in existence. It will likely need to be in existence for quite some time. So we will quickly get a communication out so that is clear.”
Florida Health Care Association Director of Reimbursement Tom Parker told Mayhew that the nursing-home group had been hearing from people who are eager to visit family members and friends who are residents of long-term care facilities.
“Lots of family members are calling and wanting to come to the facilities to see their loved ones,” Parker said. “Is there any update on that emergency order being extended?”
Mayhew’s agency regulates nursing homes, but Mayhew didn’t issue the order barring visitation. That was done by Jared Moskowitz, director of the state Division of Emergency Management.
DeSantis named Moskowitz the state’s COVID-19 response coordinator last month. Moskowitz quickly issued an order banning all visitation at long-term care facilities because of concerns about the spread of deadly COVID-19, with certain exemptions for compassion visits.
In the executive order, Moskowitz made clear the 30-day ban took effect March 14, which meant it expired Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, Florida had 1,179 confirmed cases of the disease in long-term care facilities in 52 counties, according to state data.