LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Officials are converting the Long Beach arena into a makeshift medical facility to help treat coronavirus patients as the number of confirmed cases across Southern California continues to grow.
Mobile triage units will also be set up outside hospital emergency rooms at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, St. Mary Medical Center and College Hospital to provide medical assessments and triage for individuals displaying mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.
“We are doing everything in our power to prepare for the medical and hospital surge in the weeks ahead,” Mayor Robert Garcia said Friday. “We’ve added hospital and clinic capacity by hundreds of beds and we will continue to do so.”
Officials said the arena will hold about 100 beds, and is “ready to be activated if needed to remove pressure from area hospitals.”
Los Angeles officials converted the L.A. Convention Center into a similar field hospital last week.
Garcia said the county is teaming up with L.A. County to provide a no-cost, drive-through Rapid Assessment Clinic that will open next week at Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus to help overwhelmed emergency rooms.
That facility “will provide medical assistance to people who might otherwise feel compelled to visit an emergency room for their conditions. It will not provide treatment, take X-rays or fill prescriptions on-site, but will provide medical assessments and will renew and prescribe medications for people with routine health maintenance issues,” city officials said.
“People who have a cough, fever without rash, sore throat or moderate flu-like symptoms will be evaluated in a separate area and, based on their medical assessment, may be referred for testing for COVID-19,” officials continued.
The facility will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week until further notice, beginning Monday.
On Saturday, Long Beach officials confirmed the historic Queen Mary ocean liner may soon become a medical facility to help treat coronavirus patients.
“Long Beach has received an outpouring of individuals and businesses interested in supporting to combat the COVID-19 public health emergency,” officials said in a statement to CBSLA. “The City is coordinating plans regarding care facilities and more to ensure that we remain prepared to serve the needs of our community. The Queen Mary remains in consideration, and we will have a plan to announce in the future.”
The Long Beach Post first reported about the possible use of the Queen Mary on Friday, citing multiple sources with information on the matter.
According to the Post’s sources, the ocean liner could be used for patients who no longer need intensive hospital care but still need treatment.
The Queen Mary sailed its maiden voyage in 1936, departing from Southampton, England. It has been docked in Southern California since retirement in 1967. It is now used as a hotel and event venue.
If used as a COVID-19 treatment facility, it would join the USNS Mercy in providing relief to hospitals in the Los Angeles area that are struggling to care for the influx of patients during the coronavirus pandemic. The Mercy docked at the port of L.A. on March 27 to treat non-coronavirus patients and free up beds in local hospitals for those with COVID-19 who need care.
Long Beach health officials reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the city’s total to 198.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)