Hot Springs city leaders prepare for increase in COVID-19 patients

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – As cases of COVID-19 continues to rise across the country, hospitals are being overrun and cities are looking for other options. The city of Hot Springs is working to plan ahead in case it gets to that point.

Garland County has one of the highest number of cases of COVID-19 in the state of Arkansas. Hot Springs City Manger Bill Burrough expects those numbers to continue to climb. 

“I think as we establish more testing and more testing sites we will see that number continue to increase,” Burrough said.

Now he is trying to prepare for the worst.

“I think we still have a rougher patch coming,” Burrough said.

Currently he says hospitals are able to manage the COVID-19 patients but he knows Hot Springs is a medical hot spot for southwest Arkansas. 

“The rest of Garland County, Montgomery County, Polk County, a lot of those residents in those counties come to Hot Springs for medical care,” Burrough said.

The Army Corps of Engineers Emergency Response Team came in to analyze three locations.

“They did do an assessment on the Army Navy Hospital. They did one on the old portion of St. Joseph’s which is also the older portion of the School for the Math, Science and Arts and also our convention center,” Burrough said.

He says one of these could be used as a pop up medical facility in case hospitals are overrun. 

“Those that are maybe less acute could be transferred from the hospital to this medical type of facility and save our hospitals for acute, severe cases of COVID.

Burrough says he hopes it doesn’t get to that point, but it’s important to be ready in case it does.

“Being prepared and planning on the front end will help us a long way as we move through that process,” Burrough said.

Burrough says the city is in close communication with the hospitals on a daily basis and they are able to handle the number of cases right now. They are still analyzing those facilities so no decisions have been made.

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