ATLANTIC CITY — The federal government’s field hospital at the Convention Center will have space for 250 beds and should be ready within a month, officials said Wednesday.
Statewide, three temporary hospital locations will make about 1,000 beds available for expanded capacity and allow the health care system to respond more efficiently to the new coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy and other state officials said during a briefing Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re going to be working with the CEOs of the Level 1 trauma centers to work collaboratively within the region to disperse patients, not according to diagnosis, but according to the needs of the patient,” said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “We do expect that the hospitals will be the center of the critical care patients, no matter their diagnosis.”
As of Wednesday, there are 4,402 positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey, resulting in 62 deaths. According to the state, Atlantic County had nine positive cases, Cape May County had four and Cumberland County had three.
Health officials Wednesday said they expect the trend of increased positive cases in New Jersey to continue as testing becomes more readily available.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency field hospitals are a precaution that permit health professionals to respond accordingly, Murphy said.
“It is my fervent hope that these preparedness measures remain just that — measures of preparedness,” Murphy said. “But we will be prepared. We will not be left scrambling. We will be ready to act decisively to protect the health of our residents.”
The Atlantic City Convention Center is one of three regional locations in New Jersey that will serve as field hospital sites run by FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Health and the State Police. The others are at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus and the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison. A fourth site has not been named.
At this time, it remains unclear how the field hospital will coordinate with the closest regional trauma center, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus. A spokesperson for AtlantiCare said more information about the field site will be shared as it becomes available.
“AtlantiCare’s Incident Command team is in constant communications with Atlantic City and Atlantic County offices of Emergency Management as we care for our community through the COVID-19 pandemic,” a statement from AtlantiCare read Wednesday.
The Army Corps toured the Convention Center on Monday, said Matt Doherty, executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which oversees both the Convention Center and Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. The site was announced as a regional location by Murphy during Tuesday’s media briefing.
Mayor Marty Small Sr. said the field hospital does not interfere with his request for a testing site at Bader Field.