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In preparation for a massive surge in novel coronavirus cases, Contra Costa County is converting a massive event venue on the Richmond waterfront into a medical station.

County officials are working with the California National Guard and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Strategic National Stockpile to convert the Craneway Pavilion by the third week of April — which is when the virus is expected to peak in the Bay Area.

Beds and medical supplies provided by the federal government are being trucked in by the National Guard in order to create a 250-bed temporary medical facility that can care for the expected surge in Covid-19 patients, according to county officials.

In a news release announcing the conversion, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said:

“Dedicated county physicians, nurses and other professional staff will provide vital medical care in this historic building to help prevent our local hospitals from becoming overburdened by an expected surge in patients.”

The medical station is intended for an overflow of Covid-19 patients who don’t need ICU-level care in the event that local hospitals are unable to accommodate a surge in cases.

In addition, the county is setting up other sites to care for patients outside of hospitals and is planning to use hotels for homeless residents.

The Craneway Pavilion was built as a Ford auto assembly plant in 1937 and was used to build Jeeps, tanks and other military vehicles during World War II. It is part of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said:

“The Craneway played an essential part in winning World War II. Today it is being repurposed to fight another global war.”

The mayor added:

“This facility will help not only our local communities but contribute to the overall effort to contain Covid-19.”

Other local governments around the state and nation are also setting up new temporary medical facilities to cope with the pandemic, including San Mateo County, which now has 250 hospital beds in the County Event Center.

As of Thursday morning, Contra Costa County had 250 Covid-19 cases and 3 deaths while the state had 9,944 cases and 213 deaths.

On Tuesday, the county and several other Bay Area governments extended their stay-at-home orders through May 3 to try to limit the spread of the virus in the region.

The extension includes the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara, as well as the city of Berkeley.

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