Delaware has temporary hospitals ready as COVID-19 cases rise

Delaware is gearing up for a possible worst-case scenario as coronavirus cases continue to grow.

The state is expecting its hospitals to fill up, so they are planning to move their non-critical patients into temporary, mini-hospitals.

"It's very similar to a military field, only you guys have walls, we have a tent," said Lieutenant Colonel Kernal Rachel Stephens, a flight nurse or Delaware Air National Guard.

Nemours DuPont Hospital for Children has been converted into a 38-bed ward.

"This is the first time, though, we've seen it in Wilmington," said Mark Lorenz, administrator of support services for Nemours.

The alternative care site will be used to treat adults who are in stable condition who do not have coronavirus. On Tuesday, nurses had training and orientation. The site will only be used if Delaware hospitals reach capacity.

"Patients that just need some more time in the hospital, and don't require a lot of extra care," said Dr. Christopher Raab, medical director of the adult alternate care site. "Hopefully they're just patients who will be here for a little bit, and then will be able to go onto a skill nursing facility or to home."

DuPont is one of three alternative care sites in Delaware. The other in New Castle will be at Governor Bacon Health Center, where the department of health and social services have been in the process of moving existing residents out, so they can deep clean the building and make room for potential patients. The third alternative care site will serve Kent and Sussex counties.

"Springtime in Delaware is very busy," said William Sullivan, a board member of the Delaware Hotel and Lodging Association.

To help stop the spread of the virus, Governor Carney is banning all short term rental units, including vacation homes, condos and hotels. The order exempts certain people living in Delaware, and essential workers. About three quarters of Delaware's hotels are shut down or set to be shut down according to Sullivan, which means many hotel employees have been laid off.

"It will cost our employees their jobs temporarily, we're hoping to get through this as quick as possible, so we can hire everybody back," said Sullivan.

According to Governor Carney's tenth modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency, commercial lodging in Delaware will be closed starting Tuesday at 8 p.m. and should remain closed through May 15, or until the public health threat is over.
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