Hotspot: Pinellas longterm care facility with COVID-19 outbreak sends 20 more patients to area hospitals
Photo credit: Kevin Carlson of Fox 13

The suspected number of positive patients is now 58.

The number of elderly residents suspected of contracting COVID-19 at a Pinellas longterm care facility continues to climb.

Bay News 9 reported early Friday morning that 20 more patients at the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation and Nursing facility at Freedom Square had been transported to local hospitals.

Reaction from caregivers at Freedom Square is pending.

Tuesday night 38 residents were transferred to hospitals, according to Freedom Square.

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.

As of Thursday, 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.”

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 night, 64 cases were reported in Pinellas facilities, meaning up to half of those could be attributed to one facility, a number that’s likely to increase significantly given the new hospitalizations. 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].


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