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Field hospitals may be needed in West Palm Beach, mayor says

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Posted at 11:51 AM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 12:18:28-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James says field hospitals may be needed in the city as the coronavirus pandemic continues to put pressure on our local health care facilities.

"We may even need the military or National Guard to come in and start setting up military-type hospital operations," Mayor James told WPTV anchor John Favole on Friday. "As this disease continues to spread, it's going to put a tremendous strain on our health care professionals."

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The major said hospitals and first responders in the city are in need of personal protective equipment, or PPE, from the state and federal governments.

"Our local fire department is about two weeks away from using up their supply of masks. So we need the PPE as soon as possible. We need testing equipment as soon as possible. Our hospitals need ventilators," Mayor James said.

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FULL INTERVIEW: West Palm Beach mayor talks about need for field hospitals

The mayor, who declared a state of emergency in West Palm Beach on Monday, said the key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 is for our community to work together.

"This is very serious. Please take it seriously. This pandemic is a serious threat to our entire community," Mayor James said. "We will get through this, but it's gonna require all of us working together."

James urged residents to stay indoors as much as possible, limit gatherings to 10 people or less, practice social distancing by standing at least 6 feet apart, wash your hands thoroughly, and don't touch your face.

"We've got to decrease the number of people infected," Mayor James said. "If we don't, it's going to overtake our health care system and there will have to be some very, very difficult choices that the health care professionals are going to have to make."

While the virus is putting a major strain on our health care industry, it's also impacting local businesses which may eventually have to close for an extended period of time.

Mayor James said the city is working on a plan with community banks to try to provide relief to those businesses.

"While this is indeed a health care crisis and there are threats of death, the ramifications spread far beyond health care," Mayor James said. "This is an economic calamity. A lot of people are going to be suffering. We're gonna do what we can as a city to help some of those small businesses, and we're optimistic there will be money flowing in from the federal government as well."

The city will update residents regularly about closures, cancellations, and resources related to the coronavirus through their website.