By Jim DeFede

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As more and more cases of the coronavirus are spreading into Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities, there is growing pressure on the state to ramp up testing as well as identify the facilities where employees and residents have tested positive.

Jared Moskowitz, the state’s emergency management director, told CBS Miami Wednesday nursing homes will continue to be a concern for the state.

“Let’s just let let’s be honest,” he said. “There’s a lot of facilities that had either a nursing home patient, someone who lives there that’s positive or a staff member that’s positive. And we should also be honest, that trend is going to continue. Okay. This is something that is happening nationally and is a trend that’s going to continue even though these facilities are locked down, even though these facilities have no visitors, even though their staff is being screened, even though the vendors are being screened. We know that there are people who are asymptomatic. And as a result can pass all the screenings.”

“And so, you know, even with PPE, sometimes there are things that are happening. There is no such thing as, you know, these things are airtight, airtight. And so, you know, we’ve been sending out the PPE down to the front lines. We’ve been sending that to the nursing homes – 2.8 million masks have gone to these facilities. And we’ll continue to obviously look at the mission requests that come in. We’re gonna continue to push stuff down to the county level.

Moskowitz said the state will begin doing 500 tests a day in nursing homes.

“Is 500 adequate?” he asks rhetorically. “No, everyone would like to test as many people as we possibly humanly can.”

He said they are limited by testing capabilities of the laboratories.

“So, look, we’ve just launched this program at 500 a day,” he said. “Does that mean two weeks of now we’ll be at 500 a day? No. I fully expect that the program is going to continue to increase. But at the same time, does that mean everybody who either works or lives in a nursing home, every single solitary person is going to get tested by the time this program’s on? No, that doesn’t mean that that’s the case.”

“What we’re going to do is we’re going to test a significant amount of people and then the data will tell us whether what our what our what our problems look like and where our issues are,” he continued. “We’re focusing on people who are either symptomatic or have been around someone with COVID-19. And so that’s where the program is starting in these nursing homes and these ALFs. But then we’re gonna continue to expand to test people who show no symptoms to give us an idea of what is going on in these nursing homes.”

“And I’m not aware that any other state is doing the sort of testing that we’re doing, where we’re literally going in with the National Guard in these facilities and swabbing people so that we can get vital information,” he said. “And this is about saving lives. Right. This is about identifying the problem and that’s why we push down all this lifesaving PPE to the front lines. I mean, we are doing and bringing these resources to the table and being aggressive. But as we all know, it has been reported every single hour of every single day for the last month as we everybody sits home and hears the news, is that there is limitations in PPE around the country and there’s limitations in testing capacity. And so, I will continue to be aggressive as I have been pounding the table for all of these things, trying to make sure that Florida gets their fair share of what is absolutely out there.”

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Jim DeFede