Up to 1,000 people could be treated at the Greater Columbus Convention Center


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just over three weeks ago, the Arnold Sports Festival was being held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center with competitors from all over the world.

Now, the doors are locked as they prepare the convention center to treat coronavirus patients.

“It will look more like a field hospital. People who require a hospital will be in a hospital,” said Dr. Bob Falcone, CEO of the Columbus Medical Association.

As COVID-19 cases start to fill beds, hospitals across the state are looking for room to treat more patients.

Governor Mike DeWine announced the Greater Columbus Convention Center will be a centralized location to treat COVID-19 patients if needed.

“We are trying to stay two steps ahead of this thing. The convention center will be utilized if it is needed. Hospitals are already doing a lot with their level one and two surge plans to prepare for this. The convention center will be available if needed,” said Jeff Klingler, President and CEO of the Central Ohio Hospital Council.

‘We're talking several hundred to one thousand patients. These will not be severely ill. These will be people who need to be cared for but are no longer requiring hospital care,” said Dr. Falcone.

They want to make it clear, you cannot just walk up to the convention center for care. You need to be referred by a hospital. Then, you will be directed to the area in the convention center where that referring hospital is located.

“We are really viewing the convention center for less acute patients to be transported after they have already visited one of our local hospitals,” Klingler said.

While they prepare the convention center just in case, Dr. Falcone is reminding everyone to take their part, wash your hands and keep your social distance.

“We don't have a vaccine. We don't have definitive treatment, and we don't know what this COVID course is going to look like,” he said.

They are hoping to get the convention center ready for patients as soon as possible, expecting it to be open for a possible peak in the next couple of weeks.

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Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 35,408 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 2,148 people have died from the virus and 6,413 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

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