Health District board OKs $3 million coronavirus quarantine facility

April 2, 2020

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Source: Las Vegas Sun, by John Sadler

The Southern Nevada Health District board today unanimously approved building a $3 million facility to quarantine coronavirus patients.

The district will seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 75% of the cost for the facility, which would have 40 beds, each contained in a separate pod.

“The idea would be to provide additional treatment areas and treatment facilities for, and especially in respect to, the COVID-19 virus and the impact that that has had on the community,” said Ernest Blazzard, the district’s chief financial officer.

Fermin Leguen, the district’s acting chief health officer, said patients would likely stay at the facility for up to two weeks. It should take about 10 days to build, he said.

Materials outlined in a meeting agenda indicate the project will employ modular cube pods designed by a Wisconsin company called ModTruss. According to the Fond du Lac Reporter, the cubes use a micron filtration system and negative air pressure to contain the virus.

Henderson Councilman and board member Dan Stewart said he supported the project but raised concerns about starting construction without a financial commitment from FEMA. “I’m all for this. I think it’s a great idea. We need it desperately,” he said.

Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who also sits on the board of the Health District, said she was confident FEMA would reimburse the district.

“I myself feel comfortable that we’re going to be able to get those dollars back fast,” she said.

FEMA funding is available under an act that allows “eligible emergency protective measures” taken at the direction of public health officials to be reimbursed under FEMA’s public assistance program.

Separately, Las Vegas city officials have offered hospitals access to the Cashman Center if they need extra space to treat coronavirus patients, city spokesperson David Riggleman said. The former convention center could accommodate about 1,000 patients, he said.

With more than 1,100 coronavirus cases in Nevada, the state could face a hospital bed shortage in the near future, some estimates indicate. As of Friday, 67% of the state’s staffed beds, 72% of ICU rooms and 51% of airborne infection rooms were occupied.


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