Florida nurses fact-check Ron DeSantis after he dismisses COVID-19 explosion as a ‘blip’

Florida nurses fact-check Ron DeSantis after he dismisses COVID-19 explosion as a ‘blip’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, photo via Twitter.
Personal Health

The coronavirus pandemic is growing worse in Florida, but Gov. Ron DeSantis insists the explosion in cases is just a “blip.”

The state recorded more than 15,300 new cases Sunday, and the positivity rate had exploded to 11.25 percent — a 56-percent jump from a month ago — but DeSantis disagrees with medical providers who warn the worst is yet to come, reported The Daily Beast.

“We’ve got the census today,” DeSantis said Friday, before the weekend’s dire numbers. “I think between 10 and 12 or 13,000 — somewhere like that — beds are available. There’ll be articles saying, ‘Oh, my gosh. They’re at 90 percent.’ Well, that’s how hospitals normally run.”

“We’re now at a higher blip than where we were in May and the beginning of June,” he added.

That’s not what medical providers and public health experts are saying.

“The past two weeks [have] been crazier than at the beginning of the pandemic,” said a nurse at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines near Miami. “Everybody is exhausted. I have never seen it like that before.”

Florida has been shattering daily records since becoming one of the first states to undo coronavirus restrictions, with more than 282,400 infections statewide, and hospital administrators are sounding alarms about their ability to treat the sickest patients.

“Our hospital capacity is at about 89 percent,” Memorial Hospital West hospital CEO Leah Carpenter told WSVN-TV on Friday. “Our ICU capacity is beyond 100 percent.”

By Monday, the hospital CEO, who’s also a nurse, was covering a shift to help out frontline workers during the surge.

At least 52 Florida hospitals had used up all of their intensive care units by Friday, when statewide hospitalization numbers went public, and the Pembroke Pines nurse said hospital staff had been treating patients in the hallways and starting to test positive themselves.

“I know it is still crazy because of what they are saying in the chat,” the nurse said. “The hospital is paying for overtime shifts and they are hiring a lot of agency nurses and traveling nurses. I am scared about going back.”

At least four other nurses at Memorial Hospital West were in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, and that’s putting a strain on their ability to treat sick patients.

“You discharge one patient and the next one comes right in,” the nurse said. “If more nurses have to go into quarantine, we will be understaffed.”

A nurse at the Cleveland Clinic Florida, in Weston, said the number of patients he’s seeing a day has doubled from about 100 to 200, counting those with or without COVID-19 symptoms, and he said his experience with one 72-year-old patient showed how quickly coronavirus moves.

“We had to do CPR on him,” the nurse said. “The 911 call came in as shortness of breath. But by the time he got to the hospital, he wasn’t breathing at all.”

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