Florida National Guard’s medical task force ramps up COVID-19 fight

MIAMI – Medical professionals from both the Florida Army National Guard and the Florida Air National Guard responded to a Sunday call to join a special task force.

The Florida National Guard’s task force focused on Broward County where the Florida Department of Health reported the largest COVID-19 cluster in the state.

For federal and state officials, the COVID-19 fight includes setting up drive-through testing sites, and dealing with the logistics of distributing gear for medical professionals. Gov. Ron DeSantis said it also includes communicating with hospital executives to help them keep up with capacity needs.

As of Monday, DeSantis said hospitals’ capacity is manageable in Florida. But as testing capability increases, Memorial Healthcare System’s doctors and nurses in Broward County are expecting more COVID-19 patients to need ventilators and intensive care unit beds.

The National Guard is already planning for distributions of items such as surgical masks and N95 respirators, the masks The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health approves to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles.

President Donald Trump said Monday the Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking at “hot spots” and considering the possibility of implementing quarantines. The Florida National Guard is also preparing to adapt to emergency powers from FEMA, a Department of Homeland Security agency.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday the guidelines issued might appear to be an “overreaction” to some people, and he is concerned these “will fail if people don’t adhere to them.”

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