Renown turns a floor in their parking structure into a hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Reno Gazette Journal
There are signs that many of the worst care scenarios for a surge in coronavirus patients in Northern Nevada are a little less scary.
Plans to open a makeshift hospital with more than 700 beds at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center are on hold. Hospitals in Reno and Sparks may have enough intensive care rooms to handle the most critical patients, when earlier predictions showed a shortage.
And the days between the number of positive coronavirus cases doubling has slowed.
“The good news for the models we are looking at—the projections of worst-case scenarios have been reduced over time as we move forward,” said Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick.
Dick said projections show the hospital system has gone from needing thousands of beds to only needing hundreds of beds.
“I would caution those are models and just projections,” Dick said. “We are cautiously optimistic right now.
“As time has progressed and we have had more real information to put in our models, the percentage of an ICU surge has decreased,” he said. “The ICU capacity is OK for right now.”
It’s one of the reasons plans for an alternative care site at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center are on hold.
“We’re trending in the right direction,” said Adam Mayberry, a spokesperson for the Washoe Incident Management team.
It was the same kind of news Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak shared during a public address Thursday night.
“By so many metrics, we’re on the map for being one of the best states at taking social distancing seriously,” Sisolak said.
Alternative care site on hold
The alternative care site now on hold at Reno-Sparks Convention Center was set to open in a few days.
The Army Corps of Engineers was working to design and convert parts of the 381,000-square-foot space into a care site that could be expanded to as many as 1,000 beds.
The makeshift hospital was being designed for patients with a broad spectrum of conditions, from non-acute to critical care, officials said.
Coronavirus in Nevada: Sisolak says he’s studying health data, but no timeline yet for reopening economy
If needed, the project will still be implemented with a two-day mobilization and a seven-day build.
“We have the plans and the resources in place to move us quickly and get us set up quickly,” Mayberry said. “At this juncture, it’s best to wait a little longer.
“We’ve never done this before. This is new to everybody.”
He said there wasn’t a compelling need to set up an alternative care site at this time. However, that could change.
“Every day, the confidence level increases, but at the same time it’s important to be prudent and cautious,” Mayberry said. “One reason the trend is working in our favor is because people are listening.
“They’re staying home and they’re following the social distance guidelines.”
Officials said the current hospital capacity in Washoe County is about 54 percent.
Renown Regional Medical Center also set up its own care facility in its parking garage with ability to serve as many as 1,400 patients. Renown Health spent about $11 million on remodeling one of its parking structures.
COVID-19 cases double at a slower rate
Many of the projections are based on coronavirus cases and how quickly they double.
That slowing flattens the curve, according to health district officials.
The number of positive cases initially doubled within five days in late March, from 64 cases on March 26 to 128 cases on March 31, according to the health district.
By April 5, there were 256 positive cases in Washoe County. As of Thursday, there were 572 positive cases.
The path of doubling was “pretty fierce but has since slowed between the last double,” Dick said.
Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of Northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read her journalism right here. Consider supporting her work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
Marcella Corona is a breaking news reporter who covers crime and justice in Northern Nevada. Support her work by subscribing to RGJ.com.
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