PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- More than 80 percent of the state’s COVID-19 related deaths are in people 65 or older, many of them residents of long-term care facilities.

What You Need To Know

  • 34 long-term care facilities in Pinellas County with positive cases

  • At least 8 COVID-19 related deaths among those cases

  • Long-Term Care Taskforce working to curb spread in care facilities

As of Monday morning, the Florida Department of Health reported at least 34 facilities in Pinellas County with positive cases and at least 8 with COVID-19 related deaths.  Officials there are trying to get ahead of the numbers with a push by its Long-Term Care Taskforce.  

“We actually teamed up with area fire departments and we’re doing inspections on all 250 facilities,” said County Administrator Barry Burton.

The goal, said Burton, is to help with infection control practices.  As we first told you last week, government health inspectors have cited more nursing homes for infection prevention failures than any other violation since 2017.  

USF research assistant professor Dr. Lindsay Peterson said training is partly to blame for those deficiencies.

“These are people who have to get very close to people they work with.  They have to clean them, they have to bathe them, brush their teeth, they turn them, they dress them,” Peterson said.  “Training is huge.”

Burton said fire rescue and EMS members assessing the facilities in Pinellas County will be on the lookout for practices that could affect infection prevention.

“One of the flags that I raised with the facility is they used community computers to do their charting. It’s those community use items,” said Pinellas Park Fire Chief Brett Schlatterer. ​“They’re common practice that you don’t think about.”

Fire Rescue and EMS are also helping with PPE, including fittings for N95 masks.  If a facility is in need of PPE, the county will also provide the proper equipment.

The Long-Term Care Taskforce is a coordinated effort between the county, the Florida Department of Health, ACHA, and several hospital executives.

Last week, Hillsborough County announced the formation of a similar taskforce.