FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A senior assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale has been dealing with an alarming outbreak after several patients test positive for COVID-19.
At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Florida Gov. DeSantis confirmed a third death related to the COVID-19 outbreak at Atria Willow Wood Senior Living and Memory Care facility.
“At this time, there have been three confirmed deaths at that same facility,” said DeSantis
7News cameras have captured Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue crews responding to the Atria Willow Wood Senior Living and Memory Care facility, located at 2855 W Commercial Blvd., throughout the week.
Gov. DeSantis confirmed that there were 10 total cases of COVID-19, including the three fatalities.
Mike Gentry, the facility’s senior vice president of care, confirmed five other tests are currently pending.
A 77-year-old man who has been identified by family members as Richard Curren died after he was rushed to the hospital with symptoms, overnight Tuesday. DeSantis said he had significant underlying medical conditions.
Family members of a 93-year-old man who were originally told he tested negative for the virus came forward on Friday morning after receiving an update from the Florida Department of Health that he actually did test positive.
It remains unclear if the other five patients who tested positive are elderly residents at the center or employees.
DeSantis said the patients may have been exposed to the virus because the facility was not following proper screening procedures. He said sick people may have been interacting with residents.
“They had sick construction workers, sick hospital staff. They had sick people in the food service,” said DeSantis.
In a statement sent to 7News, Gentry said, “Beginning several weeks ago, we put protocols in place that were in strict adherence to, and in some cases went beyond, the guidelines we received from state and local officials in order to protect our community.”
The center houses 220 residents, who have been isolated from each other since Tuesday.
DeSantis said law enforcement and other specialists will be present at the facility to help monitor the situation.
“If you are an operator of one of these facilities, you need to take responsibility to protect your residents,” said DeSantis.
An elderly woman could be seen walking out of her apartment with a paramedic in full hazmat gear, Friday afternoon. She was led into the back of an ambulance and transported away from the facility.
Rescue crews have not confirmed if her transport is due to showing symptoms of the virus, but DeSantis said six additional Atria Willow Wood residents have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for their results.
There are now stricter guidelines for facilities like these. No visitors or non essential personnel are allowed.
“People need to follow this, because if you’re not, you’re putting people you’re supposed to care for at risk,” said DeSantis.
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