By Jim DeFede

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As businesses begin to reopen, making sure there’s adequate testing becomes even more critical.

CBS4’s Jim DeFede spoke with Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz about plans to dramatically expand COVID-19 testing.

But there also continues to be nagging questions about the availability of face masks and gowns for frontline workers.

MOSKOWITZ: There is no Emergency Management Director out there today that needs something that they have not gotten from the Division of Emergency Management. Ten million masks to long term care facilities. If there are if there are folks in those long term care facilities that need PPPE, we’ll send it to them. That being said it’s also possible that there’s PPE there and that might be an internal issue at hospitals, we have sent more PPE to hospitals and then many other states. We’ve not said to the hospitals, “Oh, just go on your own supply lines.” Even though we know from federal documents, you know, there are 10s of millions of masks and gowns that have been sent to the hospitals here.

DEFEDE: Let me interrupt you there. Why am I still hearing from doctors, you know, in Jackson, at UM and other facilities that there were having to wear the same mask for three or four days in a row? That there that there’s enough PPE under the emergency guidelines that were set up, but not for normal conditions. Can we really say that we have enough PPE until doctors can start and nurses start using the PPE, like the face masks and the gowns, like the way they used to use them?

MOSKOWITZ: Yeah, Jim, I can’t comment, you know, on these one off situations. I mean, I don’t know what the internal protocols or procedures that have been set at Jackson or any other hospital. Obviously, we send stuff to the county emergency management directors or we send stuff directly to hospitals or we send stuff directly to the long term care facilities. The federal government just pushed two weeks of PPE to all of the nursing home directly to them. What internal protocols they come up with on their own to figure out, you know, is it a mask every day is a mask every two days, that’s for those administrators to come up with. The state doesn’t step in and micromanage that.

DEFEDE: Is it acceptable that a doctor or nurse has to wear the same mask for three or four days in a row?

MOSKOWITZ: So the answer to that, Jim, is depends on the situation. Right? So if you’re in the if you’re in the ICU, no, not acceptable. OK. If you’re in the nursing home and you don’t have any COVID there, but you’re wearing a mask as a precaution, yeah, that could be OK. Right? Everyone in the public right now is not throwing their masks away. They’re wearing their mask for a couple of days, or maybe even for a week. So this idea that everybody in the public is only going to wear their mask once in the Publix and then they go home and throw their mask out. Nobody is doing that. And there’s no evidence that they need to do that. But if you’re getting exposed to people on a day to day basis with COVID, and you’re doing, you know, complicated procedures, and there’s liquids that are coming at you, then yes, you need a new mask after every single solitary procedure.

DEFEDE: You have greater testing capacity, then you have people coming forward to be tested. Why do you believe that is?

MOSKOWITZ: So that’s a great question, Jim. So obviously, you know, we first opened up all these huge drive-thru testing sites that we have, you know, 15 of them now. We then wanted to make sure that we were opening up sites in underserved areas. And so we then opened up walk ups. You know, we have a number of new walk ups opening up this week. One in Miramar, one in Lauderhill, one in Opa-locka. But as we now get back to society, and as we know, people are no longer stuck in their house and going and getting tested for, you know, sitting in line for three or four hours is now a daily activity. I do believe we have to make testing more accessible for their everyday life. And so while it’s very early, I don’t have any announcements, there’s a lot of stuff to work out. I do think we should be exploring ways to partner with folks, like a Publix or a Home Depot, and have testing sites right there. Before you walk in and get tested before after you walk out, you can’t test it. It’s right there. It’s acceptable. Maybe things putting testing at the dollar store, serving, you know, making sure that we’re serving all different populations. You know, maybe you do partner with a church and you do testing before Sunday services. We want to make sure that we’re bringing testing to folks. It is true that we have a greater capacity to test than we are testing. Meaning that based on the amount of collection kits that we have, and the amount of labs that we have contracts with, and the amount of people that we are that are coming to the current sites, we can be testing more people than are currently going there, which is why I’m looking to continue to change the mode of testing. It’s why we’re going to go to all of the nursing homes in the next three weeks and test all of the staff members in partnership with DOH and ACHA to make sure that we are going to them so that testing is accessible.

You can see more of DeFede’s interview with Moskowitz on Facing South Florida this Sunday at 11:30 a.m. right here on CBSMiami.com.

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Jim DeFede

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