Coronavirus Response: National Guard sets up 250-bed facility on San Mateo fairgrounds

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- As San Mateo County prepares for a surge in new coronavirus cases, the National Guard arrived at the San Mateo Event Center Sunday to erect a 250-bed medical facility, overnight.

They are expected to be on site through Tuesday, as part of a state and national collaboration to help ease the pressure on Bay Area hospitals.

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"We hope we never need this facility but we want to be absolutely prepared because when that time comes and you need space, you want to have it," said Michael Callagy, San Mateo County Manager.

The facility is for low acuity care, both COVID-19 positive cases and those that can't be handled by the hospitals system.

According to the county, the facility "will provide sub-acute, non-traumatic, non-surgical treatment when hospital bed capacity has been exceeded, as well as care for displaced persons with chronic diseases, limited mobility, or behavioral health requirements."

"At a time when resources are critically important, it is a privilege to provide support to the County and state, said Event Center CEO Dana Stoehr. "Our Board of Directors, management team, and staff stand united in committed service."

The event center has changed almost overnight - A place once home to the County Fair is now a site for coronavirus testing, housing COVID-19 patients and now, an overflow of hospital beds.

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Some residents have been taking to social media to voice their disappointment with the lack of transparency from public health officials about the site.

"We have to make sure that we continue to be transparent and to let people know that what the event center is for, that it's for saving lives," said Supervisor David Caplan.

San Mateo County is only second to Santa Clara in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area, but unlike its public health officer Dr. Sara Cody, Dr. Scott Morrow has not been as available to the media - sticking mostly to sending out letters to the community on their website.

"I can't tell the public health officer what to do but what I do is I make sure we're using social media and reaching out to the press because people desire this information," said Caplan.

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We requested an interview with Dr. Morrow, he was not available. But, the county took the media on a tour of the medical facility at the event center, asking for the public's support.

"This is a different type of war for us and this is our generation's challenge," said Callagy.

In a press release, the county asked for businesses and residents to consider donating supplies.

To help support operations of the Event Center site when it is utilized, the county is asking residents and organizations with personal protective equipment (PPE) for donations.

Supplies in demand are:

  • Unused N95 respirators and surgical masks. Packages can be opened, as long as they have not been used.

  • Unopened packages of disposable gloves

  • Unopened containers of hand sanitizer

  • Unopened containers of disinfectants and disinfecting wipes

  • Packaged, unused protective goggles Personal protective equipment supplies can be dropped off Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Maple Street Correctional Facility, 1300 Maple St., Redwood City.

  • Please follow the "donations" sign to staffed collection bins in the parking lot. Only items on the list above will be accepted.**

Businesses with medical supplies to donate should email

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