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County exploring alternate coronavirus-care facilities, just in case

Michael Mendoza M.D.

Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of public health for Monroe County.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello on Wednesday implored all non-essential businesses to “send your employees home” as social distancing practices continue to ramp up in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“We need to protect the most vulnerable people in our community,” Bello said.

But should there be a tidal wave of COVID-19 cases, county officials are looking into alternate facilities for emergency care.

Health care providers say they currently have enough critical-care beds available for coronavirus patients needing hospitalization. They don’t know what the future holds, however, so the health department is preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of public health for the county, said his department has begun to identify facilities for temporary quarantine or patient care, such as hotels. He also said they would eagerly listen to hotel owners who want to make their facilities available.

“We do have as part of our isolation and quarantine plan an approach to try to identity alternate sites of quarantine,” he said. “We have those plans underway but we are not prepared to release them because we want to make sure all parties are on board.

“As you can imagine, it’s not an easy offer for a hotel or a motel to take us up on. If there are any hotels or motels out there that would like to step forward, please let us know.”

Mendoza said the focus of coronavirus containment measures needs to shift toward mitigation, so worst-case preparedness plans never need implementation.

“Mitigation is how we reduce the overall need for those high-intensity services, mitigation is how we pace the need for those high-intensity services,” Mendoza said.

“The social distancing tools are really the most effective tools we have available to us to mitigate the spread of this illness. We cannot rely only on health care. We have to rely on one another in this community to do the right thing.”

And those efforts to contain the spread extend well beyond the workplace.

“Do you really need to see your mother or grandmother tonight?” Bello asked. “Can you Facetime with them instead? Can you drop groceries off on the porch?”

koklobzija@bridgetowermedia.com/(585) 653-4020

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