Gov. DeSantis teases allowing nursing home visitation
Gov. Ron DeSantis in Jacksonville at seniors roundtable

Gov DeSantis
Visitation may be opened up soon, with conditions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday made a now familiar case that he is protecting the most vulnerable in the state’s ongoing battle with COVID-19. But he also tried to pave a path to resume visitation.

The Governor was in Jacksonville at the local Eldersource, joined at a roundtable discussion by First Lady Casey DeSantis, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, and Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom.

As was the case with a roundtable in the spring before the Governor allowed barbershops to reopen, there was no big news, but a pathway to policy change was laid forth.

“Any family member who has COVID antibodies should be allowed to visit the facilities,” DeSantis said. “I would be comfortable saying that if you have those antibodies, you should be able to visit your family member.”

While there is some evidence those antibodies may fade, the Governor takes a more optimistic view.

To underscore the emotional appeal, the Governor also had Mary Daniel on hand.

Daniel, a lady who had taken a dishwashing job to see her institutionalized husband, was on hand, making the point about how difficult the last four months have been.

Daniel’s case has resonated nationally as an example of the sacrifices people have made in these unprecedented times, and the DeSantis administration spotlighted her at the Jacksonville event.

A new task force addressing the visitation issue, on which Daniels will be empaneled, will “put out a roadmap” for reuniting families even amidst the pandemic.

Among potential ideas Daniel championed: a “designated caregiver” to visit the patient, or outdoor visits with or without PPE and distancing.

DeSantis has said for months, almost since imposing the ban in March, that he wanted to open visitation again, but the virus concerns have compelled him to maintain restrictions in order to protect vulnerable residents.

The Governor explored a “pathway” to resume visitation, but by late June “increased prevalence put those plans aside.”

“I think that 4 1/2 months is a long time,” DeSantis said. “A lot of the family members understand these are difficult circumstances … but a way forward would put people at ease, as kind of light at the end of the tunnel.”

“You have people who end up in the hospital and for months … even in their dying days … they were not allowed to have family members visit them,” DeSantis said. “To not be there, be able to be there, really leaves a mark.”

“It’s not just people with coronavirus we’re talking about … this has a broad impact,” the Governor said. “We’ve got to figure out a way … to address some of the serious emotional damage done by our countermeasures to the virus.”

As the roundtable progressed, Prudom described how the state is filling the gap, saying seniors are getting “virtual hugs” via tablets. His spiel didn’t mollify Daniel.

“I love all of these ideas but our goal is to get to the real thing. I love the virtual hug but I want a real one. My goal is to safely and as quickly as possible with the right guidelines get us back to our families,” she added.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


5 comments

  • SMH

    August 4, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    We wouldn’t be in this situation if the proper precautions were implemented and upheld from day 1. The “GINO” (gov in name only) will use any emotional manipulation to cover up for his own failings, such as putting himself in a box to claim he lacks constitutional authority for a statewide mask mandate (FALSE). These nursing homes have lacked PPE, staff shortages and illness among those who are already underpaid, reduced training standards, lack of access to rapid testing, baseline standards and protocols due to lack of leadership and support. It’s gut wrenching for those elders in facilities and their loved ones not to be able to visit, and there could have and should have been logical protocols to help this if the virus had not been able to spread so widely. Now we will see more deaths. Although going without visits and love is a death sentence on its own. Am concerned about people’s end of life rights and decision making autonomy under these circumstances. Do they still have access to hospice? What if they want to go home if at the end stages? How exactly are we supposed to determine who has active and sufficient antibodies without putting everyone at risk? I have zero faith that any suggestions put forth by the GINO administration will be science-based (such as it is) or well thought out. Also, please explain to me why the GINO sees it necessary to hold the round table in a long term care facility??!! The whole FL Republican Party is now one big nasty vector! These party types hold their irresponsible events, close up, indoors, no consistent safety protocols, and are spreading everywhere, putting key senior leadership, staff, and including our journalists at risk! They are not held accountable for this and blacklist and blame “media” if even an eyebrow is raised. Not written by a commie pinko. Just a fed up FL man.

  • Patricia

    August 4, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    I like the fact he acknowledges that 4 1/2 months is a long time to not see family in nursing homes..that is sweet of you Gov. However, what about saying the tiniest bit of words that involve another long-term care facility called…..Florida State Correctional Institutions? Do the families of incarcerated loved ones not matter? Just because they are in prison does that mean that you discard them or their families from any conversations whatsoever…from any sort of care and compassion? You know not all incarcerated men and women are guilty that sit in there for years trying to prove innocence…so do those families NOT MATTER ONE BIT TO YOU? THE ELDERLY BEHIND BARS??? I understand the fact that your prisons are raging with covid cases right now due to your failure to assist in keeping the spread down…your failure to use your executive power during a pandemic to decarcerate using several options…compassionate release…medical release…home confinement…furloughs…clemency..commutation of sentences…visits in prisons right now would not be a good idea at this time BUT YOU COULD HELP THE INCARCERATED AND YOU COULD HELP THE DEPT OF CORRECTIONS TO HELP REDUCE THE SPREAD AND STOP THE SPREAD AMONGST THE STAFF AND THE INMATES…INSTEAD TRANSFERS ARE STILL HAPPENING…VIRUS STILL SPREADING…IT ISN’T HARD TO ACKNOWLEDGE HUMAN LIFE IS IN FACT BEHIND THOSE WALLS LIVING AND WORKING AND THEY ARE DYING TOO AND THEY ARE SUFFERING EMOTIONALLY…You are a sorry excuse for a man first of all and a sorry excuse for a governor second of all. I hope you enjoyed your time on office Gov. and I pray to God the great people of Florida will see you for who you are…you claim to be Roman Catholic…you are a joke. Compassion and mercy is a huge part of being any type of religious follower and you have NONE of those…No wonder Florida is a laughing stock…very poor leadership. I have no idea how you sleep at night knowing your lack of actions in confined facilities when you have the power to do something.

  • Joe Fatala

    August 4, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Ronnie D sez………..I guess we don’t have enough dead people. Let’s look around and see who else we can get rid of.

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 5, 2020 at 5:49 am

    Duffus Desantis is a “teasing fool” just like a good little privileged white boy with power! Facts facts truth Duffus Desantis !

  • Elizabeth SIlver

    August 8, 2020 at 7:44 am

    He is likely to do this because he gets political Republican credit by acting as if it’s “business as usual”. We must do everything we can to protect our seniors.

    Our residents can’t wear gloves & wash their hands. Gloves help transfer & spread germs & virus’ KleenWraps are a barrier with antimicrobials that protect our seniors’s hands from unseen organisms on smooth surfaces. http://www.kleenwraps.com

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