Concern growing due to hospital beds quickly filling amid latest coronavirus spike

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The coronavirus death toll in Miami-Dade reached 1,000 on Wednesday, according to numbers reported by the Florida Department of Health. 

The spike in cases has led some South Florida hospitals to cancel elective surgeries to make room for potential patients. 

At the current rate, Miami-Dade hospital capacity will max out in about a month. 

Patients came one after another, from the hospitals to the newly opened state facility at old Pan American Hospital. 

It's one of now eight for nursing home residents recovering from COVID-19 who can't yet return to vulnerable elder care facilities. 

It's just one way to start freeing up critical bed space. 

"At this point every hospital is looking at their electives as a way to reduce and shift their census from elective surgeries into COVID," said Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya

Come Monday, Jackson will re-suspend non-emergency surgeries.

The state’s real-time census showed South Florida hospital capacity hovering around 20% Wednesday afternoon. A COVID-fueled increase doubling in the last few weeks, trending up. Adding insult to injury, the uptick in cases is hitting health care staffing, too.

“If our workforce ends up sick, we’re not going to be able to take care of people,” said Dr. Lilian Abbo, Jackson Health System Infectious Disease Specialist. “The responsibility is on everybody.”

Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez planned a late afternoon meeting with the heads of the county's hospitals.

"I'll be asking them to take certain measures to assure we have the medical capacity and capability to confront any additional surge," Gimenez said. :The one thing we never want to do is exceed the capacity of the medical system in Miami-Dade."

Migoya said there is no crisis yet, but signs are that one is on the way, without a change.

"The biggest thing you can do, how to help us, is culturally and behaviorally help the South Florida community change that behavior," he said. 

In Broward County, Memorial Healthcare System hospitals are also suspending non-emergency procedures that would require bed space.