HHS deputy secretary meets with Bay Area healthcare, business leaders

Of the $2.6 billion Florida hospitals received from the CARES Act provider relief fund, Tampa-area hospitals saw more than $100 million of it. 

“We just last week sent $31 million to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, and approximately $21 million to Bayfront Hospital,” Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said. 

Hargan then went on to explain how hospitals plan to use it.

“Those monies are to be used for lost revenues or healthcare-related expenses around the coronavirus,” he said.

In a visit to Tampa Thursday, the deputy secretary met with hospitals and business owners in the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, who shared concerns over COVID-19’s impact.

Maryann Ferenc, the CEO of Mis En Place hospitality group, sat in on the meeting. As a restaurant owner, she’s seen the impact first-hand.

“I think the biggest piece of confidence comes from the fact that someone is listening,” Ferenc said. “There were some questions back and forth about liability, as we’re seeing that being an issue for our consumers, for our employees, and the businesses, how are we going to deal with that?”

Another concern? How to deal with the rising number of coronavirus cases. 

In each of the last two days, Florida has added more than 5,000 new cases. 

But Hargan said this isn’t because of the state’s re-opening plan.
“I think it’s clear there isn’t a direct connection between reopening per se, by the state and local leadership, and the immediate rise of cases,” he said.

Hargan believes the answer lies with a rise in testing and those not social distancing.

“That’s probably where this is,” he said. “We’re going to have to wait to see the data on this front, but we always knew the virus was going to spread.”