Assisted living facilities were forced to get extra creative as staff scrambled to comply with the Florida governor's new mandate that workers should wear protective masks to protect themselves and others against coronavirus.
Gov. Ron DeSantis' office, alongside the Agency for Health Care Administration, announced new rules Wednesday that all staff working with elderly patients at nursing homes and assisted living facilities should wear surgical face masks.
This announcement came as there are at least 19 long-term facilities in the state that have either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
"We want to keep the residents safe as possible," said Pascal Bergeron, the regional director for the Florida Assisted Living Association. "The only issue that we are running into is that a lot of facilities were in mass panic because a lot of supplies are not available at the current time."
The Florida Assisted Living Associated represents hundreds of facilities across the state. Photos showed some staff some using papers and rubber bands and even fabric and elastic to make protective masks.
Unlike hospitals and nursing homes, assisted living facilities don't usually keep these types of protective gear on hand.
"Staff are doing the best that they can," Bergeron said. "I'm very proud of them that they're making their own masks, they're coming up with ideas and they're doing the best that they can to keep the residents safe at this time."
Richard Curren, 77, was a patient at Atria Willow Wood in Fort Lauderdale and died from COVID-19. The state did not release the names of the other 18 facilities because of privacy concerns.