State officials prepare for COVID alternate care site if needed

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SANDY, Utah (ABC4 News) – State officials are preparing for the worst-case scenario concerning the Covid-19 pandemic if needed.

On Friday, the Utah Department of Health reported 1,960 new positive cases.

Right now, plans are in place to re-open the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy if needed.

“It’s really the care of last resort,” said Joe Dougherty, Spokesman for Utah Department of Public Safety.

An alternate care site was initially set up there between April and June. “We look at the ICU utilization across the state, and right now we’re in a dangerous territory,” said Dougherty.

Two trailers of supplies are at the center. If set up, it will have 260 beds including cribs for infants.

“We do have the capacity to expand up to 500 or 1,000 beds in that facility if we need to,” said Dougherty.

If the care site is set up additional medical staff maybe needed.

“We do have the ability to bring in medical staff,” Dougherty explains. “There’s something called the Disaster Medical Assistance Team that the state could request. It’s a federal resource, and that would involve medical professionals from other states to provide that support.”

William Pressgrove is a traveling respiratory therapist based in Salt Lake County. He tells ABC4 in addition to receiving offers from across the nation, in the past few weeks he’s been receiving offers from local hospitals.

“I’ve been receiving offers from all over the country, but recently I’ve been receiving offers from right here in Utah to be a therapist at various hospitals in the valley and throughout the Tri-County area,” Pressgrove shared.

For the months of April through August, he worked in both New York and Minnesota as the states worked to get a high count of Covid cases under control.

“I only witnessed one person go home in New York,” said Pressgrove. “There was a lot of stress. It was a lot of refrigerated trucks outside the hospital.”

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