— Florida’s volunteer nursing shortage worsened Thursday with the closure of three hospitals in a major setback to its recovery from a severe coronavirus outbreak.
The closures at the University of South Florida Medical Center, the University Medical Center in Jacksonville and the Seminole Health System in St. Petersburg will end by the end of the week.
They were the result of a statewide coronaviral outbreak and the state has been overwhelmed by the coronaviruses burden, said Dr. James T. Cottrell, chief of infectious diseases at the Florida Department of Health.
It is the latest in a string of closures, which have caused an exodus of medical staff from the state, which is still recovering from the virus.
Health officials say more than 80,000 patients have been seen in the state’s emergency rooms since the virus began sweeping through the country last March.
The state is now at its lowest level of coronaviscosity since the coronavalve pandemic of 1918-1919.
“As a health care provider, I’m deeply disappointed in what’s happened, particularly at the hospitals,” said Dr, Joe G. Burchfield, medical director of the state hospital system.
There is a need for more than 100,000 additional volunteers to help with routine activities and other tasks, including caring for people with respiratory infections, he said.
In addition, the state health department is asking doctors to limit their hours to five days a week and to limit other social activities like watching television, reading newspapers and visiting friends and relatives.
Volunteers need to be ready for any unexpected circumstances, such as an emergency that requires a visit to the hospital, the health department said in a news release.
For the first time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging doctors to consider wearing face masks, saying the risk of spreading the virus to others could be greater than when wearing face protective gear.
While the state was recovering, it was struggling to meet a projected increase in the number of cases and deaths due to the coronaviovirus.
The number of deaths in the first six weeks of the outbreak reached nearly 300,000, with the number growing rapidly in the last six months, and the rate of deaths is likely to increase, according to the U,F.
and the CDC.