The temporary hospital on the Dutchess County Community College campus in Poughkeepsie will be prepared to take COVID-19 patients Monday if necessary, according to Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinano, who said the coronavirus’ peak in the Mid-Hudson Valley was still seven to ten days off.
The dorm, Conklin Hall, will take less severe COVID-19 cases, allowing the county’s three hospitals to focus on more critical cases.
The three hospitals — Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie and Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck – are currently able to handle the number of COVID-19 patients, Molinaro said during an online town hall Wednesday, and excess patients could be taken at expanded hospital facilities in Ulster County.
On Friday, the county would evaluate if there will be a need for the temporary hospital on Monday, and start the three-day process of opening the facility, Molinaro said.
“Each 24-hour period, we will evaluate whether opening that facility is necessary and we will have it open within three days,” he said.
Vassar College is next in line to be used as a hospital if the need arises, and dorms at Marist College are being used to temporarily house healthcare workers, Molinaro added.
Molinaro also directed essential businesses that have employees who interact with the public to “make every step” to ensure the employees wear masks, though he stopped short of saying employers had to supply masks for workers.
“I want to make this perfectly clear: we’re directing businesses to allow employees, if they’re deemed essential, to make use of face coverings.”
There is a critical shortage of surgical masks and N95 respirators in the country’s medical care facilities, so Molinaro suggested wearing home-made masks – advocated by the federal Centers for Disease Control last week – or other cloth coverings such as bandanas.
Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to lag behind New York City’s, and Molinaro said he expected the peak to come to the county in seven to ten days.
Molinaro also revealed how the crisis had impacted him personally.
When discussing the importance of social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the town hall audience, Molinaro said people should stay home for others, listing those that “I stay home for,” such as medical workers. When he got towards the end of the list, he began to say he stayed home for his family, but then suddenly became verklempt, and started again.
“I stay home for my dad who – I stay home for my dad who’s on a ventilator at Westchester Medical Center struggling to stay alive,” he said.
Dutchess County had 1,303 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the county’s last day of data. Ten people in the county have died.