Prince George’s officials tried Thursday to brace county residents for what they say will be a deadly surge in local coronavirus cases over the next several weeks. In a press conference and a telephone town hall, officials from across Prince George’s County outlined their plans to deal with the growing coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 30 Prince Georgians and sickened more than 1,500 county residents since the virus came ashore.
“We know the hospital surge is on the horizon, and we are doing everything in our power to prepare and create additional capacity in our healthcare system,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
The government response to this anticipated surge include plans to erect tent hospital centers in locations across the county. An undisclosed hotel has been transformed into a quarantine center for Prince George’s County government workers, Alsobrooks said.
County officials are also preparing the Prince George’s County Sports and Learning Complex to transform into a temporary healthcare facility. The Army Corps of Engineers has visited the site to assess it.
Prince George’s County officials say they have asked for additional beds, protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies from state agencies.
Alsobrooks said she has requested state health agencies prioritize Prince George’s County when allocating resources to deal with the pandemic. Alsobrooks hailed the FedEx Field drive-through testing location, which has been open for a week. But the facility had only processed about 350 tests in that time, according to Alsobrooks.
Continuity of government operations is a key concern. According to Ronald Gill, Director of Emergency Management for Prince George’s County, emergency services have taken several steps to shore up reserves of staff to deal with not only a surge of calls for service, but to also to fill-in if county first-responders take ill. Several already have.
Central to that effort is protecting the 911 call center. A list of county staff who once worked in emergency communications has been collected, and those workers have been assigned to refresher training so they can be used as reserve. Sheriff’s deputies have been placed on-call to drive ambulances if ambulance drivers catch the disease.
“If we need someone to drive an ambulance, I will find someone to drive it,” said Gill.
Triage tents are already located at Medstar Southern Maryland, Doctor’s Hospital and the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center. Smaller tent sites have been requested from state agencies. County officials said they will be “placed in the southern, central and northern parts” of Prince George’s, describing them as “smaller sites that will help the County care for individuals who need treatment for COVID-19.”
Editor’s note:Route 1 Reporter is – normally – a subscriber-supported local news website. Due to the state of emergency, articles about the coronavirus pandemic will be available for free. If you like the reporting, please support Route 1 Reporter on Patreon.