Coronavirus impact: San Mateo County Event Center turned into temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- Ahead of a projected spike in COVID-19 patients, health leaders are using the San Mateo County Event Center as a temporary hospital to help free up space at existing medical centers.

County officials said the first batch of equipment and supplies arrived Sunday, with National Guard members expected to be on-site through Tuesday to assist in the set-up of the field treatment site's set-up. A federal delivery of cots and medical equipment will allow for up to 250 beds.

"The latest projections estimate that a medical surge could push the hospitals in our county to capacity and we'll need another location to house patients requiring particular levels of care," said San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy in a released statement.

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No patients will be immediately housed at the temporary hospital, but space will be ready if and when the extra medical treatment is required. At this point, county spokesperson Michelle Durand says hospitals have plenty of space for patients with COVID-19. They are preparing this option based on projections from around the country and to prepare for a possible surge of patients.

San Mateo County has 309 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 10 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon.

Durand says this could be the first if not one of the first of its kind in the Bay Area. It would be staffed by state medical teams.

Local and state governments across the country have been racing to set up similar pop-up medical centers, like at the Los Angeles Convention Center, as California and other U.S. brace for the expected spike in coronavirus cases, threatening capacity at traditional hospitals.

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"We can't just wait to see if this will happen. We need to prepare now so that we can be ready to care for our friends, neighbors and loved ones when they need it most," said Callagy about the San Mateo County Event Center site.

The completed field treatment center will be jointly-operated by San Mateo County, which owns the property, and California health officials.

Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google's parent company, had previously used the space to operate an invitation-only testing site since its launch on March 16.

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To help support the new temporary hospital site, San Mateo County is asking residents and businesses with personal protective equipment (PPE) for donations. Needed supplies include unused N95 respirators and surgical masks, disposable gloves, unused goggles, as well as unopened containers of hand sanitizer and disinfectants. Supplies can be dropped off Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Maple Street Correctional Facility, 1300 Maple St., Redwood City.

For a full list of places in the Bay Area where residents can donate medical supplies, click here.

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