HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (CW44 News At 10) –

(June 15, 2020) – Hillsborough County is in the process of contracting for an additional 60 beds at an assisted living facility that is serving as a transition unit for senior care facility residents diagnosed with COVID-19 coronavirus, County Administrator Mike Merrill announced to the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group on Monday.

The decision to pursue doubling the number of COVID-19 transitional beds at The Inn at University Village is a proactive step, Merrill said. The transition plan was implemented in late May and the beds quickly began being used. Of the 60 beds currently contracted, 45 are occupied as of today.

This location is for senior care facility residents who were hospitalized with the virus, but who do not require hospitalizations. The assisted living facility is serving as a transitional unit between the hospital and their senior care community for these patients while they await final clearance to return to their previous residence. The patients are temporarily residing in a separate wing specifically designated for COVID-19 cases. The additional 60 beds would be in a second such wing.

The initiative is one of several undertaken by a senior care facility rapid response task force comprised of Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, the Florida Department of Health-Hillsborough County, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, and four hospital systems, Tampa General Hospital, BayCare, AdventHealth, and HCA Healthcare – West Florida Division. The task force has successfully been coordinating efforts to prevent large-scale outbreaks and avoid overwhelming hospitals that have resumed elective surgeries and other non-COVID-19 services.

The majority of COVID-19 fatalities in Hillsborough County are residents who were more than 65 years old. Residents who live in a senior care facility are at high risk for severe illness related to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In other news from Monday’s meeting, EPG members heard:

  • The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hillsborough County continues an upward trend, including that the largest increases in positive percentages by age group are in the 25-34 age bracket.
  • Two additional free public testing sites opened today. The new locations are in Sun City Center and Wimauma, and are open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 11 a.m. Residents can make an appointment for a test by calling (813) 272-5900.
  • The Hillsborough County School Board will hold a workshop on Tuesday, June 23, to discuss public schools reopening plans for this fall.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is comprised of three County Commissioners, the mayors from the cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, the Sheriff, and Chairman of the School Board. Authority is granted by Article 8 of the Florida Constitution, Section 125.66 and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. Hillsborough County enacted Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws Chapter 22, Article II, Sections 22-23 in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s residents during declared emergencies.

The next EPG meeting is scheduled Thursday, June 18 at 1:30 p.m.

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