The Fresno Fairgrounds will soon be the site of a makeshift hospital set up to treat potential COVID-19 patients whose cases are less severe. The effort is to take pressure off of local hospitals.
“We want to prepare for the potential of this virus just having a tremendous impact on our hospitals. So fairgrounds will become a location where we can accept patients that are not in need of critical care that maybe only hospitals can provide,” said County Supervisor Nathan Magsig.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been working with the Fresno County Department of Public Health to prepare the facility, said Magsig. Two hundred and fifty beds are expected to arrive any day now.
Magsig said Fresno is one of eight cities in the state designated by Gov. Gavin Newsom to receive beds and other reinforcements.
“We have the most people in Fresno County compared to counties from Kern all the way up to Stanislaus. And also because we’re centrally located, I think it made sense for Fresno County to be the receiving point of these beds,” he said.
There are several very large buildings on the fairgrounds that can be used. “The fairgrounds is a great location to set up almost like a triage location for our hospitals,” Magsig said. “We had an opportunity to tour the fairgrounds yesterday and just see the operations that are taking place to ready that location to kind of be an area where we can also receive food, medical supplies and other materials as we begin to look at setting up this makeshift hospital there.”
And it’s possible that some fairgrounds buildings will be used to house other patients separately from COVID-19 patients.
“We’re still trying to decide if we’re going to use the fairgrounds as a COVID-19 only location,” Magsig said. “At the end of the day we need to make sure our hospitals are kept open for those who need critical care the most.”
Magsig said there’s no set date for the makeshift hospital to start operating.
“But if we see a widespread community spread of this virus and more and more patients requiring hospitalization, it will become necessary to activate the site at the fairgrounds,” he said. “But we want to prepare for that now so we’re not operating in a catch-up mode.”