At a round table meeting in Fort Myers on Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis ordered the Department of Emergency Management to update their policy on nursing home and long term care visitation in Florida.
In August, the governor allowed visitation again.
But, restricted access to only adults.
On Thursday, he permitted children to re-enter those facilities.
DeSantis ordered the Department of Emergency Management to also allow outside visitation regardless of positive COVID cases inside a facility.
The governor says compassionate care givers will no longer have to social distance, and facilities are no longer required to limit visitation to five people.
Governor DeSantis says the new order will boost overall well being.
"There’s something about when people are happier, when their spirits are higher, when the families are involved. I think the staff performs better. I think it’s just a better mix," he said at Thursday's round table.
While meeting with leaders and family members at Amavida Living on Thursday, the governor also addressed COVID-19 numbers in Lee County.
"Total hospitalizations in Lee County are down dramatically from where they were in July," he said.
But during a conference call on Thursday, Lee Health CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci said numbers are increasing.
According to Antonucci, the hospital system has seen a 60% increase in COVID-19 patients within the last two weeks.
Lee Health says they treated 47 coronavirus patients.
As of Thursday, they reported that number increased to 78.
That increase, Governor DeSantis says, is linked to reporting.
He says the rise in overall cases is due to under reporting within the last few weeks, followed by over reporting more recently.
Despite reports, the governor says it's time to further ease restrictions at long-term care facilities.
"Folks in these facilities have had a tough time. When the families were able to reunite, it was a real, real weight off their shoulders," DeSantis said Thursday.