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Cleveland Health Officials Address Coronavirus Concerns at City Club

City and county health officials met to discuss coronavirus concerns at a virtual City Club forum on Thursday.

They reiterated general guidance for staying healthy, like handwashing and working from home, but they also addressed how they’re working with local agencies and hospitals to prevent the spread of the disease on a major scale.

Cleveland health department director Merle Gordon said officials are still figuring out how to best help the city’s homeless population.

“We’ve been working very closely with the office of homeless services and the agencies that support the shelters that are in place in Cleveland: how sanitation measures need to happen, thinking about the close proximity of the individuals, do we need to perhaps look at alternative sites so that there can be more space between individuals as they sleep?” she said.

MetroHealth CEO Akram Boutros addressed concerns about whether the city has the capacity to treat patients in a potential coronavirus outbreak. He said rooms at their main campus hospital can hold double the amount of patients in an emergency.

“When we created our Critical Care Pavilion, we created 82 beds. Each one of these rooms we built with the capacity of two beds," he said. "So despite the fact they’re single beds, if we have an emergency, we can go from 82 to 164 patients in the same exact location. That’s all we need to do, is to make sure we have that staff.”

Hospital bed space is a top concern nationwide as states deal with more confirmed cases.

Boutros also said general precautions such as avoiding large crowds and touching your face can help prevent community spread of the disease, which in turn helps the hospitals manage their numbers of patients.

The health department is working alongside the county board of health to provide further recommendations to the public as they become available.

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