Is Medical Reserve Corps in Tampa Bay ready for pandemic peak?

Investigations

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As Florida braces for the coronavirus pandemic peak, 8 On Your Side is hearing from medical professionals ready to be deployed.

These men and women want to volunteer on the front lines. 8 On Your Side investigates how this process is supposed to work in Florida.


WHAT TO KNOW:

  • Florida is reporting 47,471 cases and 2,069 deaths
  • Florida K-12 schools will remain online/distance learning through the end of the school year
  • Florida in Phase One of reopening
  • Travelers from NY tri-state area and New Orleans coming to Florida must quarantine for 14 days

Florida has a decentralized Medical Reserve Corps. There’s MRC units across the state. Ordinarily, they’re sponsored by local health departments.

But the Broward County Medical Association’s Cynthia Peterson says that’s not always the case.

“Today, the Broward County Health Department turned over their volunteer data base to me,” said Peterson.

Peterson says 160 volunteers are on stand-by ready for a potential surge in South Florida. That number is growing every day.

“They’re ready, I have them calling me saying, ‘well, do you know when we’re going to volunteer?'” said Peterson.

“We want to be proactive, instead of reactive.”

So what about the Tampa Bay area?

8 On Your Side called the MRC units in Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

A spokeswoman with Pasco tells 8 On Your Side they have 43 volunteers and five waiting to be approved.

Terrifying images out of New York City show what happens close to that peak. 8 On Your Side is working to ensure our state will be ready for the worse-case scenario.

8 On Your Side reached out to the governor’s office and the Florida Department of Health to obtain data.

Meantime, a local health care worker, who didn’t want to be identified, said she called the Hillsborough County MRC approximately ten days ago to sign up.

The woman says so far, no one has called her back.

We will continue to follow this story.

If you have a tip, email Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.

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