Mecklenburg Reviews Reduced Field Hospital Plans, Approves COVID-19 Small Business Fund
Mecklenburg County commissioners on Tuesday heard about hospital leaders’ plans for a field hospital to deal with a pandemic, and approved a $5 million emergency loan program for small businesses.
During a lengthy meeting, leaders from Novant Health and Atrium Health briefed commissioners on their reduced plans for the temporary field hospital. As of last week, hospital staff planned to house 3,000 beds in the hospital. Now, the plan has changed to house only 600 beds.
Atrium Health CEO Eugene Woods said the change was due to positive updates in modeling for the county’s expected peak need for hospital beds.
“The combination of additional internal capacity the hospitals have generated, the flattening of the curve, the stay-at-home orders, as was highlighted, and the realization that we should not anticipate right now additional support, had us adjust our request to 600,” Woods said.
County Manager Dena Diorio stated that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state's emergency agency would not be able to provide any staffing or supplies for the field hospital. It would then be the responsibility of the county and the hospitals, Diorio said, to supply equipment and up to 700 staff to ensure the field hospital is operational.
Diorio said the County could later be reimbursed for these expenses. The Army Corps of Engineers would build the field hospital once a site is selected. Just last week, UNC Charlotte offered to clear out six of its dorm buildings to allow for a makeshift field hospital on its campus.
Commissioners also approved on a vote of 8-1 a proposal to establish a small business emergency stabilization loan fund. The $5 million program uses the county’s general funds to provide loans between $10,000 and $35,000 to businesses negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
County staff said the goal of the program would be to help small businesses with their immediate expenses, so they can wait for larger loan programs from the federal government’s Small Business Administration. The program would serve at least 142 small businesses, with more served if loan amounts requested are on average smaller.
Approximately 29,000 small businesses operate within Mecklenburg County.
Click here for the latest coronavirus news on WFAE’s live blog.
Sign up here for The Frequency, WFAE’s daily email newsletter.
What questions do you have about the coronavirus? What has this experience been like for you? Share your questions below.