Parts of Alhambra High School in Martinez are being prepared to serve as an alternative care site to treat patients with "less complicated" medical needs as the county gears up for a surge of COVID-19 coronavirus cases over the coming weeks at the main county hospital in Martinez, according to a joint statement Thursday from Contra Costa Health Services and the Martinez Unified School District.
According to that statement, the county recently requested supplies from the federal government to help establish an alternative care site at Alhambra High, which is a few blocks south of the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, the county-run hospital.
That proximity is important in the school site running efficiently. Health officials expect the shipment of beds, medical equipment and other supplies to arrive within the next few days.
County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano told the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that preparations are also being made to use part of the former Los Medanos Community Hospital building in Pittsburg as another alternative care site. Part of that building now houses the county-operated Pittsburg Health Center.
County health officials said details of how these alternate care sites will operate are still being worked out. They also said more sites are likely to be identified in coming days.
"Our hope is that we won't ever have to use these sites because of the protective actions we've taken, like the stay-at-home order, that will stem the tide," the county's statement said. "As we hope for the best, we still must prepare for the worst."
As of Thursday, Contra Costa County had 131 confirmed cases of coronavirus, one of them fatal.
Martinez schools Superintendent CJ Cammack said in that same statement that schools are regularly used in emergencies by agencies such as the American Red Cross and other temporary emergency services.
"Both as a district and as a community, we have a legal obligation, as well as a moral and ethical obligation, to provide the highest level of cooperation during this time," Cammack said in the statement.
Alhambra High, as are all other public schools in Contra Costa County, are closed through at least May 1.
Cammack stressed that the entire school campus will undergo a comprehensive cleaning process to ensure the entire campus will be cleaned, disinfected, sanitized and "properly prepped" before any students, teachers, administrators or staff will be allowed back on campus.
"Together, as a community, we will welcome these guests with grace, compassion, and empathy," Cammack said.