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COVID-19′s grim reality: Deaths from previous surge make ICU beds available for NYE surge, doctor says

COVID-19 deaths from Thanksgiving surge open way for new holiday season surge, doctor says
COVID-19 deaths from Thanksgiving surge open way for new holiday season surge, doctor says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Dr. Andrew Pastewski said on Thursday that healthcare workers dealing with the toll of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact in Miami-Dade County are facing yet another surge of COVID-19 cases.

Pastewski, the Intensive Care Unit medical director at Jackson South Medical Center, said hospital capacity was not an issue because beds were opening up as Thanksgiving Day surge patients recovered.

“The second reason we are starting to see rooms open up is that those patients are now starting to die, unfortunately,” Pastewski said.

Hospital capacity in Miami-Dade and Broward counties as of Thursday. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

Hospitals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are treating COVID-19 patients stemming from infections in December. New Year’s Eve parties were two weeks ago, and the incubation period, the time from exposure to the development of symptoms, is two to 14 days.

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, about 16.27% of the ICU beds were available on Thursday in Miami-Dade and 15.8% were available in Broward.

“The numbers in Miami-Dade County are out of proportion,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa during a virtual meeting on Thursday. “People are dying every day.”

According to the Florida Department of Health, 23,981 people have died of COVID-19 in Florida since March, including 23,613 Florida residents and 368 non-residents. Miami-Dade reported 4,500 deaths and Broward reported 1,945.

A recent White House Coronavirus task force report warned the death toll will increase and the new COVID-19 resurgence will stress the hospital system in Florida.

White House Coronavirus Task Force issues Florida a warning. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

Dr. Joshua D. Lenchus, the chief medical officer of Broward Health Medical Center, said they have a resurgence plan on standby.

Lenchus said Broward Health is ready to leverage an additional area within the hospital to account for additional ICU-level patients in Broward County.

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About the Authors:

Alex Finnie joined the Local 10 News team in May 2018. South Florida is home! She was raised in Miami and attended the Cushman School and New World School of the Arts for high school.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.