This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to the Northwest Florida Daily News.
FORT WALTON BEACH — The number of COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Okaloosa County in the last week, from 102 cases to 119, and nearly doubled since April 6, just two Mondays ago.
One demographic that has seen a steep rise during that same time period is charted by the Florida Department of Health as “residents and staff of long-term care facilities.”
On April 6, when 65 people in Okaloosa County were listed as positive for the coronavirus, just two of those were residents or staff of long-term care facilities.
►RELATED: Physically, not socially distanced - Locals find ways to celebrate milestones in a pandemic
At the beginning of this week, April 13, there were 21 long-term care facility staff and residents infected with the disease. As of 10 a.m. Friday, the number had grown to 25, according to the Department of Health.
No deaths have thus far been reported.
County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel confirmed on Friday a recent “outbreak” had occurred at two specific Okaloosa County long-term care facilities.
►RELATED: CORONAVIRUS FLORIDA: Okaloosa to discuss limited beach visits
She would not identify the facilities, though apparently the Department of Health, which would not release the information to the Northwest Florida Daily News, does share such specifics with some county officials.
Confirmation of a spike in COVID-19 cases at local long-term care facilities comes at a time when Gov. Ron DeSantis is being criticized for failing to release more about the coronavirus situation at such facilities across the state.
On April 6, 283 positive COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in all of Florida’s long-term care facilities. By Monday of this week, that number had grown to 1,090. And as of Friday it stood at 1,515. There have been 141 deaths reported.
Florida state Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat from hard hit Broward County, put out a call Thursday for DeSantis to release the names of the state’s long-term care facilities at which people have been diagnosed with COVID-19.