Fresno Co. health officials discuss possibility of opening convention center field hospital as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Fresno County hospitals are operating at capacity and bracing for a new wave of patients as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the county.

250 beds in the exhibit hall at the Fresno Convention Center are ready to help fill the need, as soon as officials decide to open the site.

“We’d prefer that they are hospitalized in a hospital rather than on a cot in the exhibit hall. It’s very important to us. And so, we have asked for additional assistance on staffing from the state to assist the hospitals… but, we are ready to open up that exhibit hall when the time comes,” said Dan Lynch, director of the county’s EMS division. 

Health officials say once they decide to activate the site, it could be open within 72 hours, but Fresno County’s Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said it won’t have the same equipment or capabilities as a real hospital.

“It’s not going to have X-ray machines, it’s not going to have laboratory capacity, EKG machines… It’s really just a convalescent staging space for people to get better under some medical supervision,” said Vohra.

The health officer from Fresno and Madera counties also discussed reopening schools.

“Just the timing of when school would normally open being right at the same time the numbers are increasing I think is really challenging,” said Madera County Health Officer Dr. Simon Paul.

Vohra suggested all schools should have several plans ready since the situation is changing so quickly.

“Adding schools, which could be a source of outbreaks or would require resources in terms of outbreak investigation or even just baseline surveillance testing, really gives you a lot of pauses to say, ‘How can we do this safely?'” said Vohra.

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