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First Coast Connect

Long-Term Care Facilities & Visitors; Monuments; Chef Dennis Chan; Mammograms

To qualify for reopening visitations in Florida, a long-term care facility must not have had a new COVID-19 case in the past two weeks.



On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that some long-term care facilities would be able to reopen to visitors. The Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long-Term Care Facilities task force informed his decision.


We spoke withMarty Goetz, CEO ofRiver Garden Senior Services in Jacksonville, who notes that “compassionate visitation, which is discussed in the revised emergency rule, was always in the governor’s original emergency order.”


“We have been using it sparingly here at River Garden,” Goetz said.


Goetz said he expects a vaccine against COVID-19 will be the most effective tool in stopping the spread.


“The governor talked about feeling a pit in his stomach last March, as he ordered nursing homes to begin banning visitation. I hope Gov. DeSantis felt that same pit in his stomach when he refused to order mandatory wearing masks in Florida. Because absent a vaccine; masks, social distancing, and hand washing, I mean [they are] the three most effective tools available to us, that has not changed. As far as the governance or revision, I was expecting that he would be including testing, because testing in communities such as mine are the only way you can get ahead of this fire,” Goetz said.


AttorneySteve Watrel, who specializes in issues related to long-term care facilities, also joined us.

Watrel said he believes that visitation can happen safely if facilities, visitors, and caregivers comply with the rules.


“I think the governor here was trying to strike a balance...right now there’s a risk,” said Watrel.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

Confederate Monument Removal


Attorney, architect and historic preservationist Sara Bronin joined us to discuss the removal of historical monuments (such as Confederate ones), the types of monuments and statues that should now be erected, and their purpose.


Bronin advises communities to remain mindful of how they replace the statues. She emphasized the importance of memorializing marginalized historical figures.


“Most [new statues] are abstract...which makes injustice abstract and keeps us from a point of understanding we reach when we see a realistic statue of a person,” said Bronin.


Chef Dennis Chan


As a coalition warns 85% of the nation's independent restaurants are at risk of closing permanently due to the pandemic, Chef Dennis Chan is working on opening his “dream restaurant,” a new Blue Bamboo in Mandarin.

Chan joined us to explain why he will close the original Blue Bamboo on Southside Boulevard, and told us more about the new one, which will be in an old law office in Mandarin, and accommodate 20 more staffers. 


The new Blue Bamboo is set to open in three months and will offer takeout before transitioning to a full-service restaurant complete with a bar, takeout counter, and private dining rooms. To protect his future customers, Chan added automatic accouterments in the restrooms and decorative partitions between tables.


Chan said that he will serve a lot more Cantonese and Chinese cuisine at the request of customers.


“People want comfort food in the time of COVID,” Chan said.


Early Detection Imaging


Dr. Smita Sharma, Chief of Women’s Imaging at UF College of Medicine at UF Health Jacksonville, joined us to talk about the importance of mammography screenings and early detection 3-D mammography. UF Health recently opened two new imaging centers, UF Baymeadows andUF Wildlight.


Sharma emphasized the “importance of following the advice of experts while receiving potentially lifesaving exams.”


To protect patients and staff, UF Health complies with CDC guidelines for social distancing, cleaning measures, and PPE.


Katherine Hobbs can be reached at or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.

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Katherine Hobbs was Associate Producer of talk shows at WJCT until 2022.