LONG BEACH, Calif. - The iconic Queen Mary could soon be used in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, multiple sources reported.
Officials are turning Long Beach Arena into a makeshift medical facility, and setting up mobile triage units outside hospital emergency rooms, as the COVID-19 crisis floods hospitals with more patients than they will soon be able to handle.
"We are doing everything in our power to prepare for the medical and hospital surge in the weeks ahead,'' Mayor Robert Garcia said Friday. "We've added hospital and clinic capacity by hundreds of beds and we will continue to do so."
Officials said the "field hospital" in the arena hold about 100 beds, and is "ready to be activated if needed to remove pressure from area hospitals."
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Los Angeles officials performed a similar operation at that city's convention center last week.
In addition, mobile hospital tents have been established outside of emergency rooms at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, St. Mary Medical Center and College Hospital to provide medical assessments and triage for individuals displaying mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.
Garcia said a no-cost, drive-through Rapid Assessment Clinic will open in cooperation with Los Angeles County next week at Long Beach City College's Pacific Coast Campus.
That facility "will provide medical assistance to people who might otherwise feel compelled to visit an emergency room for their conditions. It will not provide treatment, take X-rays or fill prescriptions on-site, but will provide medical assessments and will renew and prescribe medications for people with routine health maintenance issues," city officials said.
"People who have a cough, fever without rash, sore throat or moderate flu-like symptoms will be evaluated in a separate area and, based on their medical assessment, may be referred for testing for COVID-19," they continued.
The facility will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week until further notice, beginning Monday.
The city's most iconic structure, the Queen Mary, might also be pressed into action soon, according to multiple reports. Officials told local media that the famed tourist attraction "remains in consideration" for emergency medical use, adding "we will have a plan to announce in the future."