MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The Miami Beach Convention Center has been a hub of entertainment and major events for years.
But soon, it'll be converted into a field hospital to treat coronavirus patients.
On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Miami-Dade County officials, discussed their plans to turn the convention center into a temporary medical facility.
"We want to protect our health care workers on the front lines," the governor said. "We want to make sure that the health care system can absorb what this virus is portending for our community."
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DeSantis said the massive property, which hosts high-profile events like Art Basel and the NFL Super Bowl Experience, will be used to treat COVID-19 patients that local hospitals don't have room for.
The convention center will start with 400 regular hospital beds and 50 ICU beds, and will be able to scale up to 1,000 beds, if needed.
"This will provide a lot of resources, should need arise, to care for patients," DeSantis said.
The governor said Miami-Dade County currently has a hospital bed availability of 43 percent.
"Broward is almost 46 percent. Palm Beach, 49 percent availability," DeSantis said. "We have capacity at the hospitals. We don't know what a surge may bring, but we have to prepare for that so we're able to take care of people."
On Tuesday, DeSantis said 1 million doses of an anti-malaria drug are being sent to Florida to treat coronavirus patients.
The massive shipment of hydroxychloroquine is expected to arrive on Wednesday.
"That will immediately be sent out to hospitals in Florida," the governor said.
The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic commonly known as a Z-Pak, has been used to treat many COVID-19 patients across Florida.
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According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are more than 15,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, along with 309 deaths.
Miami-Dade County leads Florida with 5,354 cases.