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Florida not sharing which nursing homes have COVID-19 as overall cases rise

Hannah Critchfield, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in News & Features

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — By the time Cheryl Flaherty celebrated the Fourth of July weekend inside her brother’s nursing home, the 75-year-old thought she had little to fear.

She and another sibling were fully vaccinated for the coronavirus, and Ed Monterose, 78, had a private room inside Orchid Cove at Dade City. He could not get a shot for health reasons, she said, and received no other visitors.

But a few days later, the facility called to say that her brother had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Next thing you know, he’s in the ER,” said Flaherty, from San Antonio, Florida. Within days, he was in hospice care.

Flaherty was shocked.

“Were all of the employees vaccinated? Were they tested daily, if not vaccinated?” she asked in a letter to the facility administrator on July 12. “I am wondering how many [residents] left the facility and, like my brother Ed, are in the hospital or hospice facing the end of their lives?” Flaherty said she received no response.

 

Neither Orchid Cove at Dade City, a 120-bed nursing home, nor its parent company, Orchid Cove Health Group, responded to the Tampa Bay Times’ email and phone requests for comment. Flaherty shared letters with the Times that were sent to family members by the facility administrator and postmarked July 9 and 15. They confirmed a recent outbreak among at least 25 residents and 14 staff members.

Ed Monterose died on Tuesday.

Across Florida, coronavirus case numbers are rising and nursing home staff vaccinations are lagging as the delta variant spreads. Florida’s overall case numbers more than doubled last week, and the state accounted for one in five COVID-19 cases nationally.

Six Florida nursing home residents died of COVID-19 in the week ending July 4, according to the most recently available federal data.

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