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Morial Convention Center receiving 1,000 beds to house COVID-19 patients

1,000 beds are being added to the convention center with the capacity to add more if needed.

NEW ORLEANS — As hospitals continue to take in COVID-19 patients, Gov. John Bel Edwards has a plan to ease some of the strain.

An emergency field hospital is being constructed inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Sunday, the governor joined Mayor LaToya Cantrell to take a look inside this afternoon.

Within the week, the convention center will open to take in COVID-19 patients if hospitals need relief. 

"We believe this is going to function really well," Governor Edwards said. 

1,000 beds are being added to the convention center with the capacity to add more if needed. It's under construction now and will include individual rooms and nursing stations.

"What we're doing here is very important, but if we don't bend this curve, it's still likely some people will not have a bed who need a bed," Edwards said.

This is not for patients who need a ventilator or to stay in ICU. Those patients will remain in hospitals. The field hospital will be for patients who still need some treatment, but are expected to be able to be released soon.

"It is in New Orleans for a reason and the citizens need to understand that because we are at this time still leading the state with our residents who are suffering from this virus that's why it's here," Mayor Cantrell said.

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Across the street, another facility will be used to house up to 250 patients under investigation, meaning they have symptoms but have not received a positive test result yet. To help with the more severe cases, hospitals across the state are getting additional ICU beds.

Gov. Edwards said his number one message to everyone is that there is still a great need to flatten the curve. He said there is no evidence that is happening yet and it will take everyone to slow the spread. 

"Quite frankly, we need everyone to do everything they can to slow the spread of this disease, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently," Edwards said. 

Sunday, President Trump extended social distancing guidelines until April 30, but currently the statewide stay at home order is set to end April 13. Governor Edwards said that could be also be extended. A lot depends on when we flatten the curve.

No patients will report to the convention center, they will still go to hospitals and be transported there if needed. 

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