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Pinellas County commissioners concerned about school reopening, medical supplies and the need for plasma donations


PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Pinellas County commissioners spoke up in Thursday’s Pinellas County Commissioner meeting concerned that if our hospitals are stressed now, what will happen after schools reopen.

Commissioner Ken Welch said he’s concerned the re-opening of traditional schools may be coming at a bad time. He said with 100,000 Pinellas County students, if only half go back, that’s still 50,000 students.

Meanwhile, Pinellas County’s Emergency Medical Directors Dr. Angus Jameson says he doesn’t know how much more hospital staff can handle.

“Your healthcare workers are exhausted,” said Dr. Jameson. “They’ve been at it for months. It’s incredibly hard to care for patients with COVID. To strap on the mask, eye protection, and to walk in the room day after day…it’s exhausting,” said Dr. Jameson.

County Commissioner Janet Long spoke up in Thursday’s Board of County Commissioner meeting saying she heard our local hospitals are in need of more medical supplies including the experimental COVID-19 treatment drug Remdesivir.

Commissioner Long is calling for action for more medical supplies for Pinellas County residents. “I’m over it,” said Long. “We’ve been talking about these things for months. There’s got to be a supply…for goodness sake, the rest of the world has figured it out. Why our out citizens feel held hostage?”

Dr. Ulyee Choe is the director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County said he knows how to get it.

“The Florida Hospital Association just released within the last week or two that our hospitals can order supplies from the Federal DHHS directly,” Choe said.

Dr.Choe alluded to needing donations from local residents who have already had COVID-19, plasma. saying a new campaign with OneBlood that will be released in the coming days.

8 On Your Side called OneBlood to learn more about the new campaign. Senior Vice President Susan Forbes said less than 1% of Florida’s population is eligible to donate, but for each person that does, they can save up to three lives.

“People who have recovered from the virus develop antibodies to the virus and those antibodies to the virus, those antibodies remain in the plasma. So transfusing their plasma into a patient still fighting the virus it could potentially boost their immune system and help them recover,” Forbes said. “It’s an extraordinary gift to be able to give someone their life back, and that’s something that blood donors and convalescent blood donors are doing, they are helping save people’s lives.”

Forbes says donating plasma is similar to the process of donating blood and takes a half hour.

If you’ve overcome coronavirus there are very specific directions on how and where to donate your plasma, for more information visit OneBlood’s website.

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