MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida hospitals are feeling the strain as more people test positive for COVID-19. From the number of available beds to the number of personnel, Jackson Health System is under pressure.

Tuesday, 153 employees were off the job at Jackson Health System, after testing positive for COVID-19.

Jackson has 13,000 employees, so they’re down 1.2 percent of the workforce.

ER Dr. Mark Supino, who just returned to work after recovering from coronavirus, says having enough available hospital space for patients is only part of the problem.

“It’s not just about having beds for patients,” said Dr. Supino. “We also need all of the support staff positions, nurses and techs, to take care of the patients. So we even had a greater shortage previously, we have been hiring many more nurses to help out.”

But make no mistake, the situation with the number of patients is setting off alarms.

“It’s packed, we are filled with patients day in and day out,” explained Supino. “We have a lot of COVID-19 positive patients, we have a lot of patients who are sick with other illnesses, we have patients that come in with other illnesses and end up testing positive for COVID-19.”

The question everyone is asking now is how do we handle this? What should be done in terms of shutdowns and perhaps stay-at-home orders again. There are no easy solutions.

“The economy is devastated by shutting everything down, but yet, opening things up is getting people sick and we can’t have a healthy economy with sick people. I wish I had a better answer,” said Supino.

Answers are hard to come by right now and what many in the medical field are seeing on a daily basis is alarming.

“It’s even busier right now. It’s more full, sicker patients and we are just trying to hold our heads above water,” described Supino.

Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya spoke at a roundtable Tuesday attended by Gov. Ron DeSantis and said he knows his people have been putting in heroic efforts.

“Our healthcare workers have been at this now, we’re on our fifth month and they’re tired, they’re stressed. I can assure you that none of our healthcare workers want to lose one patient and they cry over every patient they lose, whether they happen to be 40 years of age or 98 years of age,” said Migoya.

One-third of patients in the Jackson Health System are coronavirus patients. Migoya said what they are dealing with now is manageable for the next several weeks, “but we can’t do this forever.”

Jackson Health System hospitals are currently treating 420 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The state health department says Florida hospitals are treating 8,253 COVID-19 patients.

Overall, Florida reported 9,194 additional COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 291,629 with 132 new deaths.

Steven "Goldie" Goldstein

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