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Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena is ready to reopen as coronavirus field hospital

After several days of preparations, the former home of the Sacramento Kings is now ready to reopen as an alternative care site and treat coronavirus patients.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena is ready for at least one more big play in its historic career. 

After several days of planning and preparations, the former home of the Sacramento Kings is now ready to reopen as an alternative care site and treat coronavirus patients.

Crews worked tirelessly to turn the arena into a makeshift hospital. Workers got preparations finalized by installing beds and partitions. 

“They will be ready for patients on Monday, but there may not be any patients until there is a surge,” said Heidi Steinecker, deputy director of the Center for Health Care Quality at the California Department of Public Health.

“In the next 10 to 14 days you're going to see a lot of progress in that specific site,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said on April 3, just moments after announcing the arena would be one of the state’s several field hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

The 400-bed hospital is meant to help with the possible surge in coronavirus patients. The care center will serve patients that have been discharged from other hospitals with mild to moderate symptoms, which means patients who may require oxygen but don't need extensive nursing care and can move around on their own, Newsom said.

Safety concerns from people who live nearby came soon after the governor announced the plans of the makeshift hospital. 

“I really got scared because we’ve been told to distance ourselves from everybody and now they’re bringing the people with the virus over here to basically my back yard,” Natomas resident Michelle Burnside said.

However, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other city leaders have been supportive of it since the beginning. Additionally, the Department of Health says those living nearby don't need to take extra steps to protect themselves, beyond what they've already been doing. That includes things such as staying home, practicing social distancing when they go outside and washing their hands.

Officials at the hospital also realize many people who live in the neighborhood normally run or walk on the grounds and are now asking them to keep their distance while the field hospital is in operation.

According to Newsom, several other sites have also been acquired to serve as alternative care facilities across the state. He says there are currently 4,613 beds available in sites like the Sleep Train Arena in every major area of the state.

Those include Butte, Shasta, San Diego, and Fresno Counties. In the end, Newsom said about 20,00 beds will be available when coronavirus cases peak in California, which is projected in mid-May.

Other California coronavirus field centers:

  •  The Navy’s Mercy hospital ship ported in Los Angeles.
  • Existing hospitals in Daly City, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Costa Mesa that were recently closed or planned for closure are being or expected to be transformed to handle patients during the crisis.
  • 250 beds at Santa Clara Convention Center
  • 250 beds at San Mateo County Event Center
  • 250-bed site in San Diego County
  • Other sites include Fairview, Porterville, Shasta, and Fresno

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