Help is on the way to Miami-Dade County's Jackson Health System, Florida's governor announced Tuesday.
"We are going to be diverting some of our contract personnel to Jackson so we are sending, starting tomorrow, 100 contract personnel, medical personnel, mostly nurses to be able to augment their operations," Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Not a minute too soon, according to Martha Baker, president of the union that represents Jackson healthcare workers.
"We are being stressed to the max at Jackson – mostly stressed with too many patients and not enough nurses," Baker said. "The easiest thing is to find a bed, but the hardest thing is to find a nurse."
The move comes as the state Tuesday announced two new records in its fight against the coronavirus: the highest percentage of all tests coming back positive (19.3 percent), and the biggest one-day jump in the number of residents who have been hospitalized with the virus (380).
"The peak cannot keep going up," said baker. "We barely have enough nurses and doctors to take care of the 80-some percent capacity" the hospital has now reached.
DeSantis continued to downplay the unprecedented surge in new cases hitting the state, citing more testing of asymptomatic young people as one factor driving the trend.
He also blamed Floridians who were not following public health advice, saying, "We've really not had a lot of problems in Florida when folks have been following the guidelines."
Baker said the governor should follow the lead of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is reinstating some of the restrictions that were in place early in the crisis.
"I hope DeSantis pulls his head out of the sand and makes a decision," she said. "This is not minor. This is major."
Florida International University epidemiologist Dr. Aileen Marty said Floridians need to heed advice about masks, distancing and hygiene.
"We’re seeing our numbers going up at a pace that's way too fast,' Marty said. "It's basically as if we’ve squandered all the pain and agony of having gone in lock-down by our own behavior."