ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A 250-bed federal field hospital is planned for Palomar Medical Center, San Diego County health officials announced Sunday.
The "hospital within a hospital" will be installed on the 10th and 11th floors of the Escondido facility as a fully functioning hospital and will add to the capacity of beds needed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
"The facility will be used for those in our community who need it the most," Dr. Nick Yphantides, San Diego County's chief medical officer, said during the announcement outside Palomar Medical Center. "It will be a community-wide resource."
The bed capacity in the region will need to grow in the coming weeks, Yphantides said, '"as a storm begins to reach our region."
The decision about whether the federal medical station will serve COVID-19 patients or other kinds of patients will be made at a later time, depending on "which patients will need it the most," the medical officer said.
Doctors and nurses at Palomar Medical Center will staff the new medical station, officials said.
Officials said it was too early to predict the cost of staffing and supplying equipment to the medical station.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher called the added bed capacity "a positive step forward for our region."
News 8 has joined forces with The San Diego Foundation to raise immediate, emergency funds for our most vulnerable neighbors in need. Here is how you can help.
We also have a Frequently Asked Questions page we will continue updating with the latest information and reports.
Click here to watch "Facts Not Fear," a News 8 Special on coronavirus from March 26, 2020.
According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, as with any other respiratory illness:
Know how it spreads:
There is no vaccine
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus
It is thought to spread mainly from person-person between people in close contact
And believed to be spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourselves and others
Stay home when you are sick
Wear a facemask if you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow
Immediately wash your hands after coughing and sneezing
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
You can find information on disinfecting and cleaning on the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page.
The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The County of San Diego has made face coverings mandatory for those working with the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and similar businesses.
While officials say these face coverings are not a substitute for practices like social distancing and handwashing, there is evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Officials do not recommend the public use N-95 or surgical masks which are needed by health care workers and first responders.