Utah health officials looking at possible sites for temporary hospitals

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Utah health officials looking at possible sites for temporary hospitals (Photo: KUTV)

Crews in several parts of the country are scrambling to set up temporary hospitals to deal with the growing number of coronavirus patients.

In New York City, the Javits Center — a convention center in Manhattan — is expected to become a FEMA field hospital as early as this week.

Officials with the Utah Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that they are already looking at alternate hospital sites.

However, the Department did not confirm which sites may be on the list of potential field hospitals.

Former emergency responder Doug Rice, who was part of Utah Task Force 1 when it responded to New York City after 9/11, says health officials are probably looking at convention center sites, similar to the Javits Center.

“Possibly the Salt Palace, or possibly the Mountain America Expo Center or something like that,” Rice said. “Wherever they’re putting these pop-up hospitals, they’re going to want to be able have a location that can provide support for both patients and staff because the staff are probably going to be staying there.”

Rice said it’s likely hospital and government health officials have been coordinating for several weeks to prepare for the possible need of additional hospitals.

“They’ve probably already got an idea. I think Utah’s done a good job of getting ready for that, and I think we’ll see that play out in the next few weeks,” he said.

There are currently 346 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Utah, according to the latest numbers from the Utah Department of Health. One person has died and nearly 7,000 tests for the virus have been administered as of Wednesday.