3 new deaths reported at Atria Willow Wood; brings total to 6

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Three more people have died of COVID-19 at the Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility.

The Fort Lauderdale facility has already been the site of three other deaths .

7News cameras had captured ambulances leaving the facility to take some of the previous patients to the hospital last week.

In a statement, the ALF said, “Sadly, we learned today that three residents who tested positive have passed away. Our thoughts are with the families of these residents during this difficult time.”

The center also reported they have had 16 residents test positive, so far, including the six who passed.

Officials at Atria Willow Wood said additional residents have been tested for the virus.

“We are awaiting the results for two other residents who have also been tested,” the statement continued. “We remain in close communication with our residents and families and continue to provide our support as we navigate this unprecedented situation together.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been critical of the facility, saying the staff didn’t follow proper protocols, and the virus likely spread because they weren’t testing all of their employees.

“What the investigation has found out is that construction workers, staff and cooks who were ill were not screened and were allowed to go work their jobs and mix with the residents unimpeded,” he said. “That is exactly what you are not supposed to do.”

Operators at the facility have pushed back on the governor’s claim, saying they observed safety precautions.

Thursday’s announcement comes after two residents at the Hillcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood tested positive for COVID-19. Thursday evening, officials confirmed one of them had died and the other remains in the hospital.

“If you are an operator at one of these facilities, you need to take responsibility to protect your residents,” said DeSantis.

Officials at Atria Willow Wood said they are doing everything they can to keep their patients safe. They said two additional patients have been tested for the coronavirus and they are waiting for the results.

Since the outbreak, the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been called in to Atria Willow Wood. A spokesperson for the ALF said they are working with health officials to keep residents safe.

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