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Ambulances wait outside hospitals as COVID infections spread

Photo: Camilo Jimenez
Photo: Camilo Jimenez

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — COVID-19 has strained some Florida hospitals so much that ambulance services and fire departments can no longer respond as usual to every call.

In Pinellas County, home to St. Petersburg, some ambulances are waiting up to an hour with patients inside until hospitals can find beds.

County Administrator Barry Burton says this usually takes about 15 minutes. Burton says that while ambulances sit and wait, “they’re not available to take another call."

The strain is being felt across Florida, where on Tuesday, more than 14,700 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 3,000 of them required intensive care.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.