Jared Moskowitz: State will have enough ventilators and beds for COVID-19 peak

DEM is stockpiling supplies but still lacks N95 masks.

With the projected peak of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Florida less than a month away, Division of Emergency Management (DEM) Director Jared Moskowitz says the state will have the ventilators and beds to meet the anticipated need.

Moskowitz continued last week’s television news tour Sunday with an appearance on WPLG Local 10. The state has 4,300 hospital beds to move toward anticipated hospitals in need, mostly in South Florida, and 4,000 ventilators are available across the state.

“We are gathering up those resources and pre-positioning them, just like we do in a hurricane, and putting them where potentially they’re going to be needed,” Moskowitz said. “And if we do need them, we’ll surge them into those hospitals.”

And while the stockpile of hospital beds is enough to cover the projected need, the state is more than 800 short of the 2,500 ICU beds projections call for. But Moskowitz said the state will have enough for the anticipated May 3 peak.

“Hospital beds that are in hospitals now, those can be converted to ICU beds, so that’s how you expand your ICU capacity,” he said. “I have full confidence that we’ll be able to meet the ICU capacity based on the beds that I have in the warehouse that we’re shipping out to hospitals where they’re clearing out floors and expanding their capacity.”

Last week, Moskowitz began publicly criticizing 3M for not putting Americans first ahead of foreign governments, even appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News. 3M produces N95 masks, one piece of protective equipment states have had difficulty acquiring. Moskowitz alleges that 3M’s brokers and distributors have pushed back their multimillion dollar order, instead selling masks to the highest bidder or governments who come to the warehouses to buy masks with cash.

“We’ve had hundreds of millions of dollars of POs that have been signed only to come up with thin air, showing up to warehouses that have been empty, being told things are on cargo planes only to figure out that cargo plane doesn’t exist when checking FlightAware,” he said.

Less than a month after the expected peak of the Florida coronavirus outbreak is hurricane season. DEM has a team dedicated to planning how the state will operate shelters in hot spots or evacuate Floridians to or from a COVID-19 hot zone.

“I’m not planning for tomorrow, I’m not planning for next week, I’m planning for the next month and the month after that,” he said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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