Richmond Convention Center to be used as field hospital in COVID-19 response

Richmond Convention Center to be used as field hospital in COVID-19 response

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With a surge of COVID-19 cases expected in May, the Greater Richmond Convention Center will become a place to treat non-coronavirus patients.

Over the next six weeks, the facility will be transformed into a field hospital. The site can hold 432 acute cases or 758 non-acute cases.

“These faculties will be to free up capacity in the existing hospital system,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Friday afternoon, Northam made that announcement during a COVID-19 briefing. The convention center is one of three field hospitals being established across the state. The others are in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.

“Our surge plan is that to make sure we have a place that when a health system is taking care of a patient, they are almost ready for discharge or towards the end of discharge we can get them out of that facility as they take care of the sickest patients,” said Dr. Daniel Carey, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources.

Governor Northam is also encouraging people to use cloth masks in public to prevent the virus spread, but N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment should be reserved for first responders. He also says a state law banning face coverings doesn’t apply to this pandemic.

“I think that it would not only protect them but would protect others around them so I would encourage that to happen,” said Northam.

The state is facing a recession and will see less revenue than even the most pessimistic projections. Spending reductions are coming for this fiscal year and budget cuts for the next.

“We’re facing a recession and the certainty that this unprecedented situation will have major impacts on our state budget,” said Northam.

Now, the commonwealth must concentrate on buying personal protective equipment.

“We have to rearrange our priorities now,” said Northam.

State health officials also issued a stern warning as we head into this nice weekend: don’t break social distancing guidelines if you visit a state park or beach. The governor says he doesn’t want to have to close them, but will if people still don’t get the message.

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