The temporary medical facility previously targeted to open Saturday at the Colorado Convention Center won’t be ready until the middle of next month and fewer beds will be needed, according to Denver officials and city documents.
The shift in opening dates is due to a mix of construction delays and a diminishing need, Public Health Director Bob McDonald said during a meeting Thursday. Now, likely fewer than 1,000 beds of the up to 2,000 that had been predicted for the convention center will be needed and the facility won’t be ready until about May 15.
The opening of a second temporary medical facility — The Ranch at the Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland — also will be delayed until May 15, Conor Cahill, spokesman for Gov. Jared Polis, said in a news release.
“At this point, hospitals remain within their facility capacities to serve all patients,” Cahill said. “The medical shelters are not yet necessary for medical surge.”
Once open, the Colorado Convention Center will have about 600 beds and The Ranch will have 195, Cahill said.
The lower bed counts are meant to incorporate new modeling for the possible surge of the virus in Colorado, Cahill said.
During a city employee town hall online Thursday, McDonald expressed cautious optimism that the peak number of coronavirus cases has come and gone for Denver, and during a news conference Monday he noted that the number of new cases each day is turning relatively stable.
As of Monday morning, Denver has 1,784 positive cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, and 75 people have died, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock also said during that news conference that the city’s hospitals are successfully keeping up with demand and that 80% of the city’s hospital beds, one-third of intensive care unit beds and two-thirds of the city’s ventilators remain available.
Hancock has said frequently he hopes not to have to use a single bed at the convention center.
Still, it remains unclear when the pandemic might pass and Hancock said Denverites must prepare for social-distancing measures to last into the foreseeable future. Even lifting a portion of the city’s stay-at-home order by the April 30 expiration date is not certain, he said.
A best-case scenario of the pandemic shows most restrictions being lifted over a two-to-four-month period, though officials have said Denver is on track for a longer haul.
Although fewer beds might be needed at the convention center, McDonald and Hancock acknowledged that the space could still be used for other things as the pandemic continues to spread throughout the state.
While the city explores those alternate uses, the convention center’s command structure, available wrap-around services, meal services and more remain under consideration, according to internal daily situation reports written by Denver officials.
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