(CNN)Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said negligence at the Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility in Broward County that led to several residents being diagnosed with coronavirus "could be" criminal.
Florida governor says negligence at an elder care facility with coronavirus cases could be criminal
At least three coronavirus deaths and seven other cases in residents have been identified at Atria Willow Wood, a statement from the facility said Sunday. Test results were still pending for five other residents as of Sunday night, according to the statement.
Governor DeSantis said during a press conference last week that the facility did not screen staff, cooks and construction workers prior to letting them enter, exposing hundreds of residents to the deadly virus.
"It ... clearly fell below the standard of care and whether it went into criminal ... I think that that's a possibility," DeSantis said during a press conference Monday when asked by reporters about the issue. "That was clearly non-compliant, negligent and it did cost those residents their lives."
DeSantis said that a Department of Health investigation revealed that the incidents were "avoidable," and added that some people at the facility were "coughing up a storm" or going into work "visibly ill."
Over the weekend, the governor said that members of law enforcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state officials were embedded at Atria Willow Wood to investigate the cases.
CNN has reached out to the Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility for comment regarding these latest comments by DeSantis and has not heard back. In a statement to CNN Sunday, Atria Willow Wood disputed previous claims made by DeSantis saying the comments did not accurately describe the facility's response to the crisis.
"Beginning several weeks ago, we put protocols in place that were in adherence to, and in some cases went beyond, the guidelines we received from state and local officials in order to protect our community," a statement from Atria's Senior Vice President of Care Mike Gentry said Sunday. "As soon as the Department of Health office in Broward County notified us of a confirmed case in our community, we immediately escalated our safety and infection control protocols and expanded our extensive emergency-scenarios planning."
"The Governor's comments do not accurately describe our response at our Willow Wood community, including the many steps we have taken to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees," a statement from Atria Senior Living said.