Governor Ron DeSantis made it official at a round table discussion today – he is now considering ways to safely reopen long-term care facilities to visitors.

What You Need To Know

  • Mary Daniel was asked to be part of Gov. DeSantis' committee.

  • She made headlines by taking a dishwasher job to visit her husband in his nursing home.

  • Her idea is to designate "essential family caregivers."

As part of the discussion, DeSantis said he is comfortable with allowing visitors with COVID-19 antibodies back inside facilities. He also announced the formation of a new committee to explore reopening policies that could work here in Florida.

Along with Mary Mayhew, the Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and Richard Prudom, Secretary of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Governor DeSantis asked Jacksonville advocate Mary Daniel to join the new committee.

Daniel made national headlines last month, when she took a part-time job as a dishwasher at her husband’s assisted living facility just so she could see him in person again.

Since then, Spectrum News has reported on Daniel’s efforts to meet with the Governor.

She told Bay News 9 that meeting finally happened just before today’s round table, during which DeSantis said he was receptive to some of her recommendations.  

“He did talk and reinforce the reasons behind the actions, which I obviously understand and agree with them, but he obviously knows 5 months is too long.” said Daniel about the Governor’s decision to close down facilities in March. “

One of Daniel’s recommendations is the designation of an Essential Family Caregiver. She describes it as one person for each family with an established relationship with the resident, who would be allowed scheduled visits while following the same protocols as facility staff, including proper PPE and regular testing.

Governor DeSantis indicated he would consider the possibility.

He also discussed rapid point-of-care testing but advised the new committee not to not focus solely on testing.

Daniel said the group is already reaching out to other states, where long-term care facilities do allow visitation in some capacity, in an effort to see if those policies would work in Florida.