HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- Two weeks ago, Hillsborough County announced an aggressive testing plan for all the long-term care facilities in the county, one that would put the focus on finding asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.  Now the county says it has discovered at least 60 residents without any symptoms with the virus.  

What You Need To Know

Hillsborough County counts nearly 300 long term care facilities, including assisted living facilities and group homes.  As of Tuesday, state numbers show 37 are reporting cases of COVID-19.  But the focus of the county’s long-term care task force hasn’t been on facilities already known to have positive cases, but rather on those without any signs of COVID-19 yet.

Deputy Fire Marshall Ray Hansen spoke to Spectrum Bay News 9 on behalf of the task force and said so far, they’ve coordinated testing at 86 percent of its assisted living facilities, 50 percent of its nursing homes, and 29 percent of its group homes for disabled adults.  

Hansen said 12,034 people at those facilities have been tested and of them, 60 residents tested positive for COVID-19 while asymptomatic.

“Of all the places we’ve been in, there have been those asymptomatic residents and or staff,” Hansen said. “We do know this testing is proving our suspicions.”

Those asymptomatic residents who didn’t need hospitalization were transferred to The Inn at University Village, the designated transitional facility where residents will stay until they are completely cleared of COVID-19.

And while 60 out of more than 12,000 people may seem like a relatively small number, Hansen said discovering those cases can help a facility get ahead of a potential outbreak.

“Even if we only found one asymptomatic patient, this would be considered a success because that person will no longer be sitting in the facility, exposing other patients,” Hansen said.

The task force expects to be done testing at all of the county’s long-term care facilities in the next three weeks.