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South Florida hospitals face daunting challenge during coronavirus pandemic

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – South Florida hospital’s emergency rooms are stretched thin on Friday as physicians face daunting challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County and Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County have been forced to increased intensive care unit capacity.

Dr. Randy Katz, the head of Memorial Healthcare System’s emergency services, said typically his staff treats about 300 patients daily and now they are seeing about 450.

“About 200 to 250 of these patients are either in the ER department for mild symptoms or severe symptoms but something related to COVID-19,” Katz said.

Jackson Health System reported treating 445 COVID-19 patients and a shortage of remdesivir, an antiviral medication approved to treat COVID-19.

Photo by ULRICH PERREY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by ULRICH PERREY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images (Ulrich Perrey)

“Our total patient census has remained pretty flat, largely because we’re focused on discharging patients as quickly as possible, when appropriate, to make room for additional patients coming in,” Jackson Health System spokesperson wrote in a statement.

In Florida, about 70% of hospital beds are occupied including about 17% for COVID-19 patients, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he has requested the federal government to increase the supply of remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury.

“The white house is accelerating more remdesivir to the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “We think it’s going to ship this weekend.”

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