Construction set to start on COVID-19 alternate care site in Porterville

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom named several sites that will be used to treat patients with COVID-19, including one in the South Valley.

"We've identified Porterville Developmental Center, 246 beds," Newsom said. "We have identified other locations throughout the state of California."

The Porterville Developmental Center, or PDC, serves those with developmental and intellectual disabilities in a secure treatment program and a general treatment area-which is scheduled to close in late 2021.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revealed half a dozen unoccupied buildings on the PDC campus will be retrofitted for a COVID-19 alternate care site.

The governor's office says the alternate care sites will care for patients who are less sick, allowing hospitals to treat more severe cases.

"I think the governor's office has just really been looking for places where they could get the number of beds that they're projecting that could be needed," Tulare County Supervisor Dennis Townsend said. "Of course all of us hope and pray that it won't be as many as the projections."

The Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project, says a Southern California company will start construction this week, and that it should be done within two weeks.

Townsend, an architect by trade, was surprised by the short timeline.

"On the other hand, I've seen the work of the Army Corps of Engineers before, and I realize that they can get out there with very little notice and put things together very quickly," Townsend said. "So we can really be proud of the Army Corps for doing that."

"Our goal is to provide safe, clean, and functional facilities where we would want to have our own loved ones cared for," the Army Corps said in a statement.

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