First temporary federal hospital in Riverside County on the way

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INDIO (CNS) – Members of the California National Guard today will begin setting up a temporary hospital at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio in order to clear up space at local hospitals in anticipation of an expected surge of local COVID-19 cases.

The 250-bed “federal medical station” will be equipped with all necessary equipment and will help ease the burden on the local hospital system.

“We know we’ll have more cases and some of them will be serious,” Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said. “This medical station will relieve stress from our hospitals, allowing them to better provide higher levels of care for our sickest individuals, and get more people on the way to recovery faster.”

Another temporary hospital will soon be set up in western Riverside County, county officials said. That site will have 125 beds, but additional information, including the location, was not provided.

Eighty people are expected to work both sites in total.

The equipment at the Indio location will be housed in two existing buildings at the fairgrounds, according to local officials.

The guardsmen and women will not be conducting any law enforcement activities while at the site, county officials said.

Indio city officials on Tuesday appeared supportive of the move, which could potentially bring patients infected with COVID-19 into city limits.

“People will be cared for at this medical station at a secure location in which the COVID-19 virus can also be isolated and contained,” Mayor Glenn Miller said in a statement. “Putting these resources at the county fairgrounds is the right and appropriate thing to do, and in the city of Indio, we are here to help in whatever way we can.”

Indio spokeswoman Brooke Beare emphasized that patients not infected with the novel coronavirus are expected to be treated at the temporary hospitals in order to clear up room at local hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that materials for field hospitals had begun arriving in California, sent by the federal government to help beef up the state’s hospital bed capacity. A total of eight are expected, Newsom said, collectively providing 2,000 hospital beds out of the 50,000 he said California needs to accommodate the influx of expected hospitalizations associated with the novel coronavirus.

Another confirmed location is in Santa Clara County in Northern California.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Riverside County, with 28 in the Coachella Valley. Six people have died from complications associated with the disease, all in the Coachella Valley.