Gov. Ron DeSantis says officials are targeting an April 20 opening date for a new field hospital being set up at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
That hospital will be equipped for patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus.
Some other field hospitals in the state and around the country are solely designed to help hospitals with overflow capacity of non-coronavirus patients. But the Miami Beach Convention Center facility will be able to accept COVID-19 patients as well.
“Here at the convention center, we’ve been working with the Army Corps of Engineers over the last several weeks,” DeSantis said Wednesday at a news conference outside the convention center.
“From the very beginning, we’ve looked strategically around the state and made plans to be able to expand hospital capacity.”
DeSantis said upon opening, the field hospital will have 50 intensive care unit beds and another 400 hospital beds.
“The hospital will cover 500,000 square feet and will be able to scale up to 1,000 beds if the need is there,” DeSantis added.
In addition to contracted physicians, nurses and other staff, nearly 200 members of the Florida National Guard medical team will also work at the facility.
DeSantis was joined Wednesday by several officials including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
“What’s being constructed here is a 450-bed temporary hospital that we hope never to use,” Giménez told those in attendance.
“But we have to have it just in case we do need it.”
Added Gelber, “We will be ready. And we couldn’t be ready if all of us weren’t working together and most importantly, our residents weren’t accepting the fact that this is something real and they need to lean into all these counter-measures and all of these actions we’re doing.”
As of Wednesday morning, Miami-Dade County had 5,354 confirmed cases of the virus, up from 5,126 last night.
“I would much rather be prepared for the worst — and the worst not come here — than not be prepared,” the Governor added.
“So what you’re seeing here today is the state of Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers, Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach doing all we can to be fully prepared.”
Miami Beach has instituted some of the most stringent requirements in the state. On March 31, the city added an emergency order limited essential businesses to 50% capacity. All customers and employees must remain six feet apart as well.
Days later, officials approved another order requiring employees and customers at grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants to wear face masks.