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Fla. Will Be Under State Of Emergency During Republican National Convention In Jax

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Bill Bortzfield
/
WJCT News

Florida will remain under a state of emergency because of COVID-19 for at least two more months, including during the part of the Republican National Convention that will be in Jacksonville in late August.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday issued a 60-day extension of the state of emergency, which was initially issued March 9 and extended in May.

The order authorizes a wide range of actions and directs the Division of Emergency Management to coordinate the state’s response, while allowing the governor to direct necessary money and supplies.

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DeSantis also said he will send about 100 medical personnel --- mostly nurses --- to South Florida to help with the surge of COVID-19 patients at Jackson Health System in Miami.
At a news conference in Miami, DeSantis said he is directing nurses under contract with the state to work in South Florida while he waits for the federal government to respond to a request he made to Vice President Mike Pence for additional medical personnel.

Related: More Local, State And National Coronavirus News

DeSantis stressed that the additional staff was needed because of the numbers of patients being seen at Jackson. While patients who test positive for COVID-19 don’t all require acute-level health care, DeSantis said hospitals are required to take extra precautions with the patients to ensure the virus doesn’t spread.

“They still have to put protocols in place to be able to isolate and to make sure that doesn’t spread to other parts of the facility. So that requires just more manpower,” the governor said. While he is initially directing the nurses to Miami, DeSantis said that “obviously we are working with other areas of the state.”

Florida Hospital Association Interim President Crystal Stickle met with DeSantis on Monday to discuss the hospital industry’s response to the pandemic, including workforce issues.

In a prepared statement to The News Service of Florida, Stickle said, “We appreciate Governor DeSantis’ commitment to securing health care workers to support hospital response to the pandemic. Right now, hospitals are leveraging all available staffing resources to address potential surge should the need arise, particularly in communities with high rates of COVID hospitalizations.” 

Likewise, Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida CEO Justin Senior praised the governor for the move. “We are so appreciative of his initiative and commitment to high quality patient care. Our hospitals continue to be the front-line soldiers in the war against this deadly virus and we are not letting up,” Senior said in a statement.

The News Service of Florida reported last week that DeSantis had asked the federal government for additional medical personnel, and Pence said the Trump administration would process the request “in very short order.”

DeSantis said he spoke with Pence again about the request Monday night. The News Service has repeatedly requested a copy of DeSantis’ request, but his administration has not proved the document.