TAMPA, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked FEMA to send 1,500 nurses to help Florida fight the coronavirus pandemic.
We now know 60 of them are coming to Tampa Bay and will be deployed to BayCare, but they aren't the only ones stepping up.
Two Florida nurses who went to New York City when hospitals were overwhelmed are home and they're joining the fight once again.
"I had five patients die in my unit in the first 24 hours that I was there," traveling nurse Kristina Borovic said.
During a time when NYC was fighting to keep people alive, traveling nurses were flown in by the thousands to help answer the call.
"They were seeing maybe 10,000 cases daily when I arrived 780 deaths a day," traveling nurse Melisa Orduy said.
The two nurses say they felt they had a duty to fulfill and it was an honor to work in New York when it was the epicenter for COVID-19.
Months later, both Kristina and Melisa are home, but their work isn't done.
"We have staffing shortages, hospitals are on bypass which means that they cannot staff their max capacity. So now you have people that could be in critical condition, something completely unrelated to COVID, they can't even get to the hospital now. It was literally like like putting out a fire and walking back into the flames here," Orduy said.
At over 200,000 cases in Florida, the number of those testing positive continues to skyrocket and hospitals across the state are now expanding their units for COVID-19.
"I feel like social distancing wasn't taken as seriously as it was in New York. New York took it seriously with the masks. Everybody had one on. I mean I didn't see one person outside without a mask," Borovic said.
Kristina is working to get into an ICU in Miami while Melisa is helping the state in Tampa Bay.
"We're setting up sites to try to swab and test people as much as possible just to try to you know, pull some data and see where the hot spots truly are in Florida. We're looking at how we can assess them and how we can protect those people," Orduy said.
Both nurses don't know how long Florida will have to fight the spread of coronavirus, but hope people take it seriously and don't lose their lives.
"New York was the first that had that situation arise. I hope that the hospitals are more prepared. That unknown that we don't know much about, it could cost you your life," Borovic said.
DeSantis says he plans to ask for more help. Future nurse deployments will be based on requests from hospital systems.
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