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Nursing homes struggle to find masks amid the coronavirus outbreak

Staff members are racing to protect their vulnerable residents.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, more cases are popping up in nursing homes across Florida.

10Investigates found more than 250 reported cases of the virus at long-term care facilities. But, as these facilities work to make sure to stop the spread, they are having a hard time finding a key piece of equipment – masks.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put an order in place in March to keep visitors out and keep those inside safe from the spread of COVID-19. “Even leading up to governor’s order to restrict visitations, we were already doing screenings,” said Kristen Knapp, the Communications Director for Florida Healthcare Association.

Florida Healthcare Association represents 82 percent of nursing homes in the state. Knapp says facilities are working hard to make sure those who live in their facilities are protected.

“We are working diligently to keep members as safe as possible," she added. "Everyone donning masks throughout the day, all the time.”

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But here’s the problem:facilities are telling Knapp they are running out of those masks. She said they are trying to get as many supplies as they can, and even community members have stepped up.

“Supply issue is something that gives us anxiety, but we’re trying to come up with ideas to keep residents safe," said Knapp.

For Pam Nobles, whose mother is in an assisted living facility, all she can hope for is that her mom stays safe through this health crisis.

“It is very scary with a thought that if it breaks out in that facility, because there's no you know, there's hardly any stopping at once it's in a closed space like that," she told 10News.

Another problem nursing homes are facing is staffing. Knapp said there was a nursing shortage before this, and they are looking for staff on the front lines to fight this too. She said local nursing homes are looking to hire, so if you are in that field, there could be an opportunity for you. Florida Healthcare Association has a list of many jobs available, you can find those openings by clicking here.

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