Florida Governor extends visitor ban at long-term care facilities

Florida Gov. DeSantis extends nursing home visitation ban

FLORIDA — Gov. Ron DeSantis extended a visitor ban at long-term care facilities for another 60 days. Action News Jax talked to a family who is afraid of the toll it’s taking on their loved one.

The separation would be tough anytime but especially now.

“Now he’s to the point where he’s barely eating. He’s completely bedridden,” Kathy Love said.

Content Continues Below

Love isn’t sure how much time she will have with her 82-year-old father, Greg Doyle, who has dementia and stays in a Jacksonville nursing home. Love said he’s had pneumonia twice.

“He has deteriorated bad since the lockdown to the point where we thought a few weeks ago we were going to lose him,” she said.

Because of COVID-19, she can’t see him in person.

“I can’t be with him. I can’t let him know that he’s not alone,” Love said.

For two months, visitors have been banned from long-term care facilities in Florida. Over the weekend, DeSantis extended that ban for another 60 days. Love is afraid it will be too late.

“He’s giving up. He doesn’t think that anybody is there or anybody cares,” she said.

“The truth is that you just can’t separate families and can’t separate loved ones or family members forever,” said Doug Adkins, executive director of Dayspring Village in Nassau County.

Adkins said local and state leaders need to start working on a safe and smart plan to reconnect family members with their loved ones.

“We’ve got to be very careful on how we do this. The consequences of not getting it right are pretty significant," Adkins said.

In Florida, more than 700 patients living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have died from the coronavirus. That’s nearly 40% of all Florida’s COVID-19 deaths.

Adkins said families need to know this ban isn’t forever.

“We’ve got to start putting together the planning process. Certainly, families need to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel," Adkins said.

Love hopes she can see her dad soon so he knows he’s loved.

“I wish I could be there with him holding his hand, supporting him, just to let him know he’s not alone,” she said.