Coronavirus now infects 830 in Florida, 1 more dead as state to put field hospitals in South Florida
Coronavirus cases have increased to 830 overnight statewide and one more person has died, according to the latest numbers from Florida health officials as the state announced field hospitals to open in South Florida's Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The metropolitan areas account for about half of the state's positive cases when combined with Palm Beach County, where a COVID-19 patient died — an 88-year-old man, according to a Sunday morning update from the Florida Department of Health.
The latest increase posted Sunday morning shows 67 additional cases. A total of 768 Florida residents and 62 non-Florida residents have been infected, the DOH reports.
A total of 13 people across Florida have now died as a result of the respiratory illness. As private laboratories join the list to run tests on swab samples, 1,099 people are being monitored across the state.
There are still close to 1,000 tests pending results at state health labs, with the number of confirmed cases expected to increase.
However, that doesn’t include the number of tests being sent to those commercial labs, DeSantis said during a press conference outside Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, now the host of a drive-through testing site.
“We don’t have visibility on what is being sent to the labs,” he said. “We get the reports on who tests positive … and who tests negative. There’s probably many more tests that have been outstanding.”
But he emphasized that, so far, the rate of positive cases has declined.
“The percentage of people who test positive have declined. Even under criteria of where you have to be symptomatic, the vast, vast majority of people are testing negative for this,” he said. “So, I just want to put people at ease. This is an issue we’ve got to deal with; it’s serious. But it’s something that still, at this point, the vast, vast majority of people are testing negative for.”
He continued to remind that close contact is what puts people at risk, especially older, adults and those with weakened immune systems. He added along with travel, many cases stem from close contact between people within the same households.
Following up on his Saturday remarks about looking into using vacant facilities to isolate patients, DeSantis said the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) has identified six vacant medical facilities to use for potential response to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
“We hope it doesn’t come to that. We do have capacity — but we’ve got to do our part to stop the spread of the virus so we don’t end up overwhelming the healthcare system,” he said.
Across the state, there are 18,131 available hospital beds, DeSantis said, along with 1,700 ICU beds. About a third of hospitals have 50% or more capacity to care for COVID-19 patients, he said.
Over the next week, Florida is expected to receive 2 million N-95 masks, said Jared Moskowitz, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. Those will be sent to healthcare workers, the Department of Children and Families and nursing homes.
Broward and Miami Dade Counties have been inundated with most of Florida’s COVID-19 patients as they grapple with more than 350 cases collectively. Officials are constructing field hospitals in those counties, each to accommodate up to 250 people, Moskowitz said.
“That really is a segue between a hospital and then potentially having to set up an additional permanent facility,” he said.
At a press conference Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis had said he’s looking to isolate COVID-19 patients inside hotels, convention centers and vacant medical facilities to prevent them from infecting others.
Over the past week the governor has issued several executive orders — from prohibiting indoor dining and non-urgent medical procedures to temporarily shuttering bars, playhouses and movie theaters to enforce federal social distancing safety measures.
More than 9,000 people in Florida have been tested for the novel coronavirus.
This story originally published to tallahassee.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.