Pinellas County longterm care facility confirms even larger COVID-19 outbreak

Elderly woman wearing a mask to protect from coronavirus covid-19
As many as 38 residents might have COVID-19.

The Seminole long-term care facility that sent patients to three Pinellas County hospitals Tuesday night confirmed an even larger COVID-19 outbreak Thursday than had previously been reported.

On Tuesday, 38 residents of Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation who were asymptomatic but potentially exposed to the new coronavirus, as well as those who were symptomatic or had confirmed cases of COVID-19 were transferred to three local hospitals for treatment and monitoring.

“The transfer was proactively suggested and coordinated by Freedom Square for two reasons: first, to contain the spread of the virus; and second, to allow the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation team to focus on the remaining patients in the building,” facility leaders wrote in a statement.

On Wednesday, Florida Politics first reported, with confirmation from a county official, that 21 individuals who were positive or presumed positive were transferred to local hospitals — seven each to Morton Plant, Largo Medical Center and St. Anthony’s. At the time, it was estimated that 30 residents and six employees were either infected or likely infected.

Freedom Square officials said a patient at the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation Center on its campus tested positive for COVID-19 on April 9, the facility’s first known case.

To date, they said 21 residents and six employees have tested positive for the disease at the rehab center.

“As a senior living community, our priority is to protect the health and safety of our patients, residents, and employees. The Freedom Square Campus, which has over 700 residents, began implementing appropriate precautionary and protective measures in late February,” the statement read.

Yet anonymous reports to Florida Politics claim the facility may be facing other challenges.

The reports say health care workers have been going without proper personal protective equipment at the facility, in some cases being forced to wear the same gown for an entire shift or fashioning their own face coverings because the recommended N95 masks were unavailable.

Asked about workers’ access to PPE, Michael Mason, Freedom Square executive director, declined to answer specifically. He did say the facility has preventative measures in place and  he thinks the facility is in a “comfortable position.”

The Florida Health Department of Pinellas County deferred questions to the state office but provided details on the process for long-term care facilities to seek supplies, which includes an application to Pinellas County Emergency Management.

However, statewide there are problems with long-term care facilities’ access to PPE. The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) said only 47% of nursing homes have enough protective equipment to last two weeks while 80% have enough to last a week. And most facilities’ supplies would be depleted if a resident or staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

Pinellas County, fueled in large part by the Freedom Square outbreak, is among the most affected counties in the state in terms of long-term care COVID-19 cases.

As of Thursday morning, 62 cases were reported in Pinellas facilities, meaning up to half of those could be attributed to one facility. It’s unclear where else cases have been reported because the state of Florida, under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, refuses to disclose affected locations and only provides raw data.

For the latest on this continuing story, read here.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Sonja Fitch

    April 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Desantis does not have a clue or give two scoops of bs abouttheALF and prisons. It is going to shocking and CRIMINAL that Desantis suppresses the facts and the truth just like a “good little goptrump cult puppet! Projections are we in Florida do not apex til may 5. God help us

    • Giventofly75

      April 17, 2020 at 2:20 am

      Agree Sonja!!!

Comments are closed.


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