Duke Energy Convention Center ready for COVID-19 patients if needed

Posted at 4:20 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 02:20:30-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions here.

CINCINNATI - Government leaders and health officials showed off the community's newest hospital facility Thursday and expressed optimism that it might never have to be used.

"I want everybody to be reassured ... that this area is safe. This area is prepared. And the community will weather this storm and be safe," said Dr. Dustin Calhoun, UC Health Medical Director for Emergency Management. Calhoun was speaking at a podium between two makeshift wings of beds at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

Calhoun called the region’s Alternative Care Site for COVID-19 patients "a product of years of planning and several weeks of tireless work."

The Health Collaborative and the city, county and convention center worked together to ensure that there would be someplace to treat patients if an anticipated surge packed regional hospitals. They originally thought they might need up to 1,000 beds.

Now, thanks to the public's compliance with social distancing and stay-at-home orders, they're thinking 150 - or less.

"We hope to not have to use any of these beds," said County Commission President Denise Driehaus.

Still, medical personnel from all of the region's hospital systems are equipped and ready to handle more, Calhoun said, and to spring into action through "disease surveillance" before a surge even becomes imminent.

Beds, drapes and pipes are set up. Now they're waiting and watching before putting all the medical parts in place.

"We watch for a period in which we think, based on modeling and real data from the hospital systems, when we are approximately 120 hours out from needing to put the first patient in the first bed in this facility, and at that time we pull the trigger," Calhoun said.

Calhoun said post-acute patients would be separated from medical-surge patients. ICU patients would be treated at hospitals but could be moved to the convention center "in case we had to do that."

Calhoun said the cooperation between region's hospital systems and governments shows "this region exemplifies togetherness."

Mayor John Cranley and UC Health CEO Dr. Richard Lofgren also spoke at the briefing.

City Health Commissioner Melba Moore reported one new COVID-19 death in the city, bringing the total to seven. She said there were 24 more confirmed cases since Wednesday, raising the city's total to 214.

Moore said 28 people are currently hospitalized and 78 have recovered.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.