TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The number of coronavirus infections in Florida has steadily climbed since September. 8 On Your Side has been crunching and analyzing the state’s coronavirus data since the beginning of the pandemic and found, if we stay on our current path, we will soon hit a frightening new milestone.
We saw roughly 83,000 cases in September. Now, with 10 days still left in the month and the increased risk Thanksgiving will likely pose, Florida has already surpassed 120,000 cases for the month of November.
“We are somewhat disheartened, and that’s putting it mildly,” said Candace Amato. “I don’t think any of us anticipated eight, nine months ago that we would still be here.”
Ms. Amato is a nurse at Tampa General Hospital and the director of the hospital wing that treats coronavirus patients. There are 59 beds on two floors. They are almost at capacity.
The hospital is acknowledging the coming COVID-19 threat: They’re not downsizing, they’re expanding.
“Within a couple of months we’ll have another entire floor,” said Ms. Amato. “We’ve had to work at the speed of light, sometimes literally, had to renovate spaces overnight.”
8 On Your Side has tracked the average increase in new cases daily. Based on the past two weeks’ worth of data, if we stay on our current track, Florida will hit one million cases by Dec. 2.
That would make us the third state in the country, behind California and Texas, to cross that milestone.
“We have run a very long race and, you know, we’re getting tired,” said Ms. Amato. “The team that we have here – the teams, because it’s literally been all hands on deck – has been some of the best that I could ever imagine working with.”
Ms. Amato says the hospital is fully prepared to treat patients but they are looking at different staffing models. Like other hospitals across the country, they could use more nurses to lighten the load.
“It’s beyond a marathon,” she said.
A new interactive coronavirus forecasting system from researchers at the University of South Florida shows Tampa Bay is in the midst of another surge – a trend that’s only expected to get worse with the upcoming holidays.
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