Big Fresno Fairgrounds could soon be used to treat COVID-19 patients

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Big Fresno Fairgrounds could soon be doubling as a hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. Fresno County officials are preparing for the transformation -- just in case hospitals become overwhelmed by rising cases of the virus.

After looking at the COVID-19, impacts on places like Washington and New York, the Governor has selected several places that are going to be receiving triage beds to mitigate the traffic going into hospitals.

As the state's 5th largest city, Fresno was chosen as a location set to receive 250 beds. Fresno County supervisors confirmed to Action News that the Big FresnoFfairgrounds is where those beds will be housed.

Haunting images of the coronavirus's impact can be felt nationwide.

"If we do get widespread COVID 19 and there are individuals who need ventilators our hospitals are going to be overwhelmed," said Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig.

He adds, while we're nowhere near that, it's important to be prepared, "we are accepting resources from the state and federal government, to make sure we can meet the demands of this region if it gets to that level."

Though the County has a number of campuses and assets, like the old UMC building, it would cost time and money to bring those buildings up to a condition to receive patients.

Supervisor Magsig says, "as we looked at the fairgrounds, one of the reasons we looked at that location as ideal is they have warehouses there. It's a large open space. They have a huge parking lot. They can send and receive shipments very easily from that location.

Local hospitals would staff the site, that would be used only *IF* hospitals were at risk of running out of beds. Any patients sent to the fairgrounds would be considered less severe.

Deputy fair manager Lauri King says as a state facility, they make themselves available for any emergency, "whether it be wildfires, floods, heating and cooling centers or something we're dealing with right now.

King says because the Big Fresno Fair happens so late in the year, they are still actively planning to hold the event.

She adds, "we're doing our part to make sure we're doing everything we can for our community so we can get through this."

We could see beds arriving as soon as the next couple of days.

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