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Sacramento preparing to activate Sleep Train Arena as coronavirus cases stretch ICU capacity

California will activate 20 of the 244 beds in the arena to treat COVID and Non-COVID patients starting Wednesday, Dec. 9.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The old ARCO/Sleep Train Arena was transformed into a field hospital over the summer in case hospitals surge over capacity with coronavirus patients. That time is quickly approaching.

California will activate 20 of the 244 beds in the arena to treat COVID and Non-COVID patients starting Wednesday, Dec. 9.

"Extra increase in beds is definitely going to help that and help us see our patients quicker,” Megan Norman said.

Norman, an emergency room registered nurse at UC DAVIS, said her colleagues are overwhelmed. But she said she feels a sense of relief to know patients may have a place to go.

The Sleep Train Arena is one of 11 surge sites in the state that together have about 1,800 beds in "warm status.” The alternative care site at Imperial Valley College FMS has already activated 15 beds, according to California Emergency Services Officials.

Norman said a part of her is also saddened it's gotten to this point.

"It's very disappointing that we don't have a better control on it. But you know, nurses, we just go to work every day with the intention to provide the best care that we have," Norman said.

The arena was staffed for some time over the summer, but officials said Californians were able slow transmission, eliminating the need of a surge site for patients at the time.

Noman said that was a relief and reminds people that their actions now will help relieve front line healthcare workers.

"When you are making a decision about [whether] to social distance or not, to have a family get-together, just remember COVID or no COVID, when you need an emergency room, you want the nurses and doctors to have the time, the space, and the resources to care for you," she said.

Officials though are still working out how exactly they will staff the Sleep Train Arena. It’ll be a mix of contractors, state workers, and the California health corps.

The initiative in the spring has not held up to its once-promising numbers. About 93,000 retirees and medical students signed up, but only a small number qualified. There are about 900 members available to support hospitals statewide according to state officials.

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