Focused Protection: How Florida Shielded the Elderly From COVID
"In the hospitals, care was taken not to discharge the elderly back into care homes prematurely"
How is it that the state of Florida, a state run by a Republican Governor who has rejected wholesale the lockdown wisdom, has had such success in reducing Covid numbers? How is it that the same state, known as the retirement home of America, has been one of the most successful states in America in protecting its elderly citizens?
How did they do all this while Governor, Ron DeSantis, kept the state open for business despite the protests of the zero-covid type Coronatarians.
Florida has a population of over 22 million people, has counties with dense urban populations, and has a senior population (over 65 years of age) of 4.4 million, with 3 million over 70. It has roughly 4,000 elderly care homes and roughly 155,000 residents of these homes.
Florida has suffered 1,616 deaths per million of population, placing it in the bottom (better) half of states in the U.S. for this statistic. The average is 1,765.
Approximately 1 in 5 of its residents are in the high risk category for Covid, so how did Florida stay open and not have a catastrophic level of deaths amongst its elderly?
The answer is in the dedication to evidence-based policy that the leaders of Florida determined to pursue from the very outset of the Covid pandemic.
As it materialised that that Covid was a global pandemic, the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, looked at what the death tolls were telling us. When early data became available from South Korea, DeSantis said they looked carefully at the fine details of who was dying and who was getting sick.
That analysis (which any policy maker anywhere could have made, as they had access to the same information) showed that this was an illness that almost exclusively struck hard at the elderly.
As early as May 2020, DeSantis was able to report on how his state had assessed and responded to this risk. “I just thought it was so dramatic, the extent to which this was concentrated in the older age groups. I think the first real fresh set of South Korea numbers I looked at, I think it had no fatalities under 30, and then 80 percent of them were 70 and above or something like that. It was really, really dramatic.”
Italy also provided early data, but while the rest of the world took Italy as a dire precursor to their own future, DeSantis’s team did a granular study of the statistics. Again they learned that the elderly (with a median age of 82) took the brunt of casualties, but more crucially they learned that this was the main ‘at-risk’ group, and that they could successfully focus protection on this vulnerable group.
So while other leaders were spreading resources too thin, in Florida the number one priority was elderly care homes and retirement villages.
PPE resources were put first into care homes. This was where the vulnerable population was so it was prioritised above hospitals. As De Santis rightly recognised, “If I can send PPE to the nursing homes, and they can prevent an outbreak there, that’s going to do more to lower the burden on hospitals”.
He implemented a state-wide system of active management to ensure the strictest guidelines were implemented in care homes. This required all staff and any worker that entered to be screened for COVID symptoms including temperature checks. Anybody who exhibited any symptoms would just simply not be allowed to go in.
In the hospitals, care was taken not to discharge the elderly back into care homes prematurely. De Santis’s team were insistent that they be kept in hospital until all risk of Covid contagion had passed.
This might seem like an obvious call, but remember that all over the world Covid contagious patients were being returned to care homes because people were panicking that the hospitals would be overrun. That reactionary decision proved disastrously fatal for elderly care residents all over the world, but not so in Florida.
Pushing these policies on a day-to-day basis was Mary Mayhew, secretary of Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration. Her job included daily calls with the hospitals to manage this situation as she was acutely aware of the pressure to release elderly Covid patients back to the care homes.
She recounts that: “Every day on these calls, I would hear the same comments and questions around, we need to get these individuals returned back to the nursing home.”
However, and despite the feverish atmosphere pushed by the media, she says they held firm.
“We drew a hard line early on”, she said. “I said repeatedly to the hospital, to the CEOs, to the discharge planners, to the chief medical officers, ‘I understand that for 20 years it’s been ingrained, to get individuals in and out. That is not our focus today. I’m not going to send anyone back to a nursing home who has the slightest risk of being positive.’”
Having watched how the opposite of this policy played out in New York, Ireland, and other places; it’s clear that that single policy saved the lives of thousands, and possibly tens of thousands.
Severe outbreaks in care homes were prevented by isolating positive cases before they had a chance to spread. Upon hearing of a case in a nursing home the state rapidly deployed emergency response teams to prevent cases spreading. If the home couldn’t isolate the cases, they were transferred to hospital. This way, the majority of the outbreaks that occurred in nursing homes had between just one and five infections.
That deserves repeating. Outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes were tackled so quickly and so effectively that the majority of outbreaks had no more than five cases of infection.
These emergency response teams had rapid testing capabilities which produced test results in less than two hours, making it possible to test all staff for asymptomatic carriers.
Things like this were crucial, and like the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration have advised, they are focused on the appropriate vulnerable population.
As well as all of these strategies, Florida has a monitoring program for long-term-care facilities, routinely taking representative samples to monitor for flare-ups. It also established several COVID-19-only nursing homes.
While Florida’s governor was making smart, focused decisions, the media was whipping up a state of hysteria about much less significant issues. “The day that the media had their first big freakout about Florida was March 15th,” DeSantis recalled. “That same day is when we signed the executive order to, one, ban visitation in the nursing homes, and two, ban the reintroduction of a COVID-positive patient back into a nursing home.”
The Other Part of Florida’s Covid Strategy
But outside of the nursing homes things were fairly relaxed.
Lockdown obsession pointed to the open air freedom of Florida, claiming it would lead to super-spreader events. When De Santis didn’t clamp down on the revelry of Spring break, the anticipation of a covid outbreak from the coronatarians was palpable. Like CNN, (as recently revealed) they were sort of rooting for an outbreak.
However, the opposite happened, because Covid does not transmit well outdoors. So while New York was racking up massive outbreaks in closed apartment blocks, Florida’s crowded beaches had no comparable outbreaks.
A respiratory virus not transmitting well outdoors is not a surprise to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with viral illnesses. All this established knowledge was however, thrown out the window for a neurotic obsession with masks and outdoors social distancing; even though one finding has shown that outdoor transmission is 1,000 less likely than indoor transmission. Amazing that common knowledge has to be proven again just to ease the covid hysteria.
The attack dogs were unleashed when Jacksonville, Florida opened in April 2020, and the MSM screeched into panic mode. People would die en masse we were told in dire tones. However the beaches opened and there was no surge in cases.
Shortly afterwards De Santis noted: “Jacksonville has almost no COVID activity outside of a nursing-home context. Their hospitalizations are down, ICU down since the beaches opened a month ago. And yet, nobody talks about it. It’s just like, ‘Okay, we just move on to the next target.’”
What this anecdote shows is that the media and their ZeroCovid allies are not interested in facts or the result of testing (as in science), they just want to push whatever story suits their narrative. However even the intensely hysterical Project Fear has to bow out to facts. Florida is doing quite well, the plague has not hit as predicted by the media and the establishment experts.