PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County has a plan to set up a field hospital at the South Florida Fairgrounds near West Palm Beach in the event there's a sudden surge of coronavirus patients at local hospitals, officials said on Wednesday.
According to a county spokesman, officials are in the process of "implementing a plan to stage a field hospital."
In a written statement, Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson said:
"Palm Beach County has to take into consideration many possible scenarios in response to emergencies. Some of these responses require days of planning and setup and this requires us to implement a plan even before it is apparent that there is a need. This is a normal occurrence in emergency management and does not guarantee these worst case scenarios will come to pass."
A spokesman said "this hospital will be set up in case there is a significant surge in hospitalizations due to COVID-19," and it will "take pressure off of local hospitals that have a surge of incoming patients."
Earlier on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the Miami Beach Convention Center is being turned into a field hospital to treat coronavirus patients.
"This will provide a lot of resources, should need arise, to care for patients," DeSantis said.
DeSantis said the massive property, which will start with 450 hospital beds, will handle any overflow COVID-19 patients that local hospitals don't have room for.
The governor said Miami-Dade County currently has a hospital bed availability of 43 percent.
"Broward is almost 46 percent. Palm Beach, 49 percent availability," DeSantis said. "We have capacity at the hospitals. We don't know what a surge may bring, but we have to prepare for that so we're able to take care of people."
Palm Beach County officials said that once a decision is made to open a field hospital at the South Florida Fairgrounds, the public will be notified.
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 1,206 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palm Beach County.
211 people in the county have been hospitalized because of the virus, and 69 have died.