Mobile field hospitals being deployed around O.C. to help with influx of COVID-19 patients: Officials

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In this July 31, 2020, file photo, Romelia Navarro, right, is comforted by nurse Michele Younkin, left, as she weeps while sitting at the bedside of her dying husband, Antonio Navarro, in St. Jude Medical Center's COVID-19 unit in Fullerton. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

In this July 31, 2020, file photo, Romelia Navarro, right, is comforted by nurse Michele Younkin, left, as she weeps while sitting at the bedside of her dying husband, Antonio Navarro, in St. Jude Medical Center’s COVID-19 unit in Fullerton. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

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As the latest coronavirus surge continues in Orange County and statewide, health officials said Tuesday that mobile field hospitals will be deployed to local hospitals to provide help to health care systems treating an influx of COVID-19 patients.

There are currently 1,371 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Orange County, and 296 of them are being treated in an intensive care unit. The mobile field hospitals will be used to add more beds to a hospital’s existing grounds. Orange County currently has 10.4% of adult intensive care unit beds available at local hospitals, officials said.

The mobile field hospitals are designed to support at least 200 patient beds and are housed in large, semi-type trailers and contain heavy duty canvas tents with hard flooring and temperature-controlled units. They are equipped with running water, toilets and showers, generators and lighting, as well as air purifiers.

“Our team is working around the clock with our hospital partners to distribute and operationalize these critical resources, but the community must do its part and practice non-medical preventative measures like mask wearing, physical distancing and frequent hand-washing to help stop the surge,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s health officer.

As of Tuesday, mobile field hospitals were requested by Fountain Valley Regional Hospital to add 50 beds, St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton to add 25 beds and UC Irvine for 50 beds, county officials said in a news release. Each hospital will determine how to use the mobile field hospitals, which are designed to expand emergency department capacity, med-surge and specialty care units, mass vaccination facilities, to best fit their needs, officials said.

Officials are also working with more hospitals to ensure equitable distribution of the mobile beds countywide.

Hospitals who are in need of mobile field hospitals can request emergency waivers from the California Department of Public Health.

On Tuesday, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported 2,173 new coronavirus cases and one new death.

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