Southwest Florida grapples with high mortality, nursing home spread with COVID-19
Braden River Rehabilitation Center

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Rural and suburban regions have paid a steep price in lives.

Reported cases of coronavirus brought evidence of further spread in Manatee County’s nursing homes. That came as the Southwest Florida region saw continued loss of life in both populated and rural areas.

As of Friday, multiple residents of the Braden River Rehabilitation Center has contracted the coronavirus, according to the Bradenton Herald.

A total of 731 cases in Florida are tied to long-term care facilities.

It’s startling news in Manatee, where 13 individuals have died from COVID-19, according to the Department of Health. The state has seen 200 cases in total, pegging the mortality rate in the county at 6.5%.

Victims range in age from 57 up to 81.

Officials at Braden River, for their part, stressed the nursing home continues to be mindful about the disease.

“The facility staff continues to follow all CDC guidelines including adhering to all protocols for pre-screening residents prior to any admission, ongoing monitoring of all residents, screening of staff, and maintaining compliance with infection control techniques and personal protective equipment recommendations,” reads a statement.

The region as a whole has been hard hit by COVID-19, even if the spread hasn’t compared to areas like Miami. Sarasota County has 211 known cases, including 10 deaths, putting to mortality rate there around 4.7%. A total of 33 COVID-19 cases are ties to long-term care in Manatee, with 17 tied to facilities in Sarasota.

In Lee County, deaths climbed to 16 on Friday, though an increase in testing has found 572 positive cases of COVID-19. The mortality rate there is around 2.8%. That may indicate the biggest different in mid-sized metropolitan areas from major cities in an availability of tests.

But in Collier County, which has similar demographics to Lee, only 3 people have died among 327 cases, less than 1%.

Meanwhile, rural parts of Southwest Florida has seen substantial losses compared to the small number of cases outside of the cities. In Charlotte County, five people have died out of 104 known cases. In Highlands County, four have passed away out of just 47 people tested positive. In DeSoto County, the 20 known cases include three individuals who died from COVID-19. Only four people have ever tested positive in Glades County, but one has died.

Meanwhile, health officials report 16 cases of coronavirus positive tests in Lee County long-term care facilities and 29 cases have turned up in similar establishments in Charlotte County.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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