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More COVID-19 cases at Jacksonville group home

Residents who tested negative have been moved to apartments.

With nine more cases this week, 11 staff members and residents at a Jacksonville group home for people with developmental disabilities have tested positive for COIVD-19.

Arc Jacksonville Executive Director Jim Whittaker told The News Service of Florida on Friday that six residents and three staff members at the Bert Road group home tested positive for the virus this week.

The Duval County Health Department tested all the residents and staff members at Arc facilities after two residents were taken to the hospital the first week in July.

The residents at the Bert Road group home who tested negative have been moved to apartments. The residents who tested positive — all of whom are asymptomatic — have remained at the home and are isolated “like a sickbay,” Whittaker said.

In addition to the positive cases at the Bert Road facility, two staff members at another Arc Jacksonville group home have tested positive, Whittaker said. No residents at the St. Nicholas group home had tested positive as of Friday.

“The results are trickling in,” Whittaker said.

The state has not made free testing available to the more than 2,000 group homes or institutions that provide care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The state Agency for Persons with Disabilities, which licenses the group homes, advised the providers to contact their county health departments.

Whittaker told the News Service that he repeatedly requested testing for his staff but that the Duval County Health Department refused.

The county tested his entire staff, Whittaker said, after the two residents were hospitalized. The DeSantis administration said Wednesday that it was “evaluating options” to expand testing for such facilities.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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