The city of San Diego is reopening the doors of some of its shuttered buildings so that they may provide space for beds, research or anything else that will help in the nationwide fight against the coronavirus.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Wednesday he was making vacant, and temporarily closed, properties available to anyone on a national, county, or local level who could use them.
Some of those properties include buildings that were vacant before the coronavirus pandemic spread to San Diego, like the old Central library or the Mission Hills Library. They also include spaces that were recently ordered to close, like city recreation centers and parking lots.
These buildings will be made available for everything from medical testing, to field hospitals, to supply staging. It’s all in an effort to ease the burden on local hospitals. Which are preparing for a surge in coronavirus cases that experts predict is on the way.
A city spokesperson told NBC 7 all city properties are on the table, but those sites that closed down before the pandemic will be used first.
Faulconer’s address also included a stern warning to San Diegans who might be thinking about letting up social distancing guidelines.
"If we let down our guard down right now, all of our sacrifices to this point could be lost,” he said. “This is the chain of events that could crash San Diego’s healthcare system.”
Healthcare officials at Faulconer’s side said complacency will claim lives, but assured the public following social distancing orders will help slow the spread of the disease and give health care workers on the front lines a chance to catch up.
“If your son sneaks off and visits his girlfriend and then you later sneak over to have coffee with the neighbor, then your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that the son's girlfriend's mother shook hands with,” the city’s Associate Medical Director Dr. Joelle Donofrio-Odmann said. “Social connections are complex and we need to maintain a very high level aware of awareness."
Chris Van Gorder, President and CEO of Scripps Health, compared the coronavirus to a tsunami, saying we can see it coming, but we’re all unsure of how big or how catastrophic it will be.