STATEWIDE — As the number of coronavirus cases statewide continue to rise, experts say the long-term care (LTC) population will likely see an increase in deaths in the coming weeks.

What You Need To Know

  • Researchers anticipate spike in deaths among LTC population

  • Dr. Lindsay Peterson anticipating rise in 1-3 weeks

Florida’s death toll related to long-term care facilities and COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 people this week.

State numbers show Pinellas County has the 4th highest rate in the state at 164 deaths. Hillsborough County is listed as 6th, Manatee County at 7th, and Polk County at 8th.

“The increase we’re going to see in the nursing homes is going to track the increase in the community,” said Dr. Lindsay Peterson, a researcher with USF’s School of Aging Studies. “They have gotten better at managing the infection, but it’s really hard when there are multiple staff members coming in with the infection and not knowing they have it.”

The reasoning seems to correlate with the steady increase of COVID-19-positive staff.  The state is now reporting that number to be nearly 5,000, which is more than double the number from a month ago.

But Peterson said to keep in mind testing plays a bigger role in long-term care facilities than it does with the general population, now that it’s mandated by the state.

Still, Peterson said the rising case numbers and the potential for staff to carry the virus into families means long-term care facilities will likely feel an impact.

“Very sadly, we are probably going to see the deaths rise in nursing homes. The death rate is what they call a lagging indicator, and what it means is it comes afterward,” Peterson said. “In a week, two weeks or three weeks, it’s inevitable.”