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River Garden CEO Criticizes Governor's Handling Of Pandemic

Memory care resident Sue Morse visits through a window with family on Mother's Day 2020 at Sunrise Senior Living in Jacksonville.

After months of isolation and lockdown, Florida residents can now visit their loved ones in extended-care and senior facilities.

Marty Goetz is CEO of River Garden Senior Services in Mandarin. He said Thursday on First Coast Connect with Melissa Rossthat while his residents and staff welcome the change, he still feels Florida has had poor overall leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The governor talked about feeling a pit in his stomach last March. I hope Gov. DeSantis felt that same pit in his stomach when he refused to order the mandatory wearing of masks in Florida,” Goetz said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in Jacksonville that his taskforce on the Safe and Limited Reopening of Long-Term Care Facilities had given him new recommendations on outside visitors that he was signing into law. 

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

In order for a long-term care facilities to allow visitors back in again, they need to have had at least two weeks without any new coronavirus cases among their residents or their staff.  Visitations are by appointment only. And visitors will have to go through a screening process that includes a temperature check.

To hear the entire interview with Goetz, listen to Thursday’sFirst Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. The show also encores at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89.9.

Melissa Ross can be reached at, 904-358-6382 or on Twitter at @MelissainJax.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.