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Erie County looks into alternative facilities for COVID-19 patients

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center is a possible option.

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. —

The number of COVID-19 cases is growing, and hospitals have already started taking measures to increase capacity, but the question remains:

If those beds fill up, where will patients go?

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he’s already begun exploring options.

"It's best to have individuals in a location where you could have one hot zone so you don't have to turn off (personal protective equipment) for medical professionals," Poloncarz said in a news conference. 

There are a number of things to consider. Aside from supplies for medical staff, there’s also access to other facilities in the area. 

"Mass casualty (intensive care unit) bed locations, and what we're thinking about is, we may be looking at the convention center."

It’s not unheard of. The Westchester County Center and other similar locations have already been identified as pop-up hospital locations by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  

Poloncarcz also said he’s looked at the old Erie County home, among other places, but not all of them would be able to handle the influx.

"We have looked at a number of locations including hotels, We've excluded some because they just don't have the capabilities that we need," he said.

According to Poloncarz, the county is also looking into housing options for people who don’t have the virus but may need a place to stay. Multiple facilities are on the county’s radar. 

As for when all of this would happen, Poloncarz was not specific he did say that one site had been identified yet and he was looking to get in contact with the army corps of engineers. 

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