ORLANDO, Fla. — Pointing to a declining rate of positive coronavirus cases since September, Gov. DeSantis loosened restrictions on visits to long-term care facilities across the state Thursday.

The new order lets facilities choose their own limits on the number of visitors to the facility. It also removes the prohibition on visitation by children, allows for outdoor visits regardless of positive cases in the facility, and clarifies an early rule to make clear that compassionate caregivers are not subject to social distancing guidelines.

“This virus is not the end of all health issues," Gov. DeSantis said during a roundtable in Fort Myers Thursday. "Health is about people’s physical, mental, emotional, social well being. So mitigating one virus needs to be done, but it shouldn’t be done to the exclusion of anything else involving people’s wellbeing.”

The order builds on a lifting of restrictions on long-term care facilities in August, which allowed for no more than five visitors at a time, and allowed for compassionate caregivers to visit. 

DeSantis said there has been a 70% decline in positive COVID-19 cases at LTC facilities since September. He also said the rollout of rapid testing to the facilities made it easier for facilities to get a handle on the virus.