Oregon Is Opening a 250-Bed Emergency Hospital at the State Fairgrounds to Treat COVID-19 Patients

The hospital is expected to be ready by Friday.

Oregon is setting up a 250-bed emergency hospital to treat patients for COVID-19, Gov. Kate Brown announced during a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.

The hospital, called the Oregon Medical Station, is located on the state fairgrounds in Salem, Brown said. The state purchased it years ago in preparation for an emergency such as a pandemic.

The hospital is expected to be ready by Friday.

The announcement falls in the wake of recent scrutiny of the state's hospital bed capacity. Oregon has the lowest bed count per capita in the country, with 1.6 beds for every 1000 people.

Brown also said the state's emergency coordination center is working to identify 1,000 temporary hospital beds statewide where non-COVID-19 patients can be transferred in order to free up space in hospitals for other COVID-19 patients.

Brown declined to answer questions about the number of beds currently in use statewide.

"We are all making the best decisions we can with the information that we have at that time," Brown said during Wednesday's press call. "There is no single right protocol. We are constantly getting new information and constantly escalating decisions as infections rise."

The Oregon Health Authority announced this morning that two more Oregon residents have died from COVID-19, bringing the total deaths to three.

The governor also announced during the call that the state is gradually increasing its testing capacity, and that it recently signed a contract with Quest Diagnostics.

Quest will send the state 20,000 test kits, Brown said. Any day now, the state will receive its first bundle of 5,000—or 25 percent—of those tests.