ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Army Corp of Engineers are transforming a Gallup high school’s gym into a treatment facility for COVID-19 patients. Sixty beds will occupy the gym at Miyamura High School in anticipation of a case surge in McKinley County. “It’s a 14 day construction project. We came up with a very aggressive timeline with the corps of engineers,” said Lt. Col. Robin Scott, deputy commander of the Army Corp of Engineers-Albuquerque District. The space is not considered a hospital, but an alternative care facility for COVID-19 patients who no longer need intensive care, but still need a place to recover. “The intention is for them to take patients when our hospitals become overwhelmed with capacity,” said Lt. Col. Scott. Valory Wangler, Chief Medical Officer of Rohoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services, said all eight beds in the ICU are occupies and that they’re looking to expand. “This virus is difficult to predict, difficult to know how many patients when, but from the estimates that we’ve seen, we feel this is going to be just exactly what we need when we need it,” Wangler said. Officials with the governor’s office released the following statement about the growing number of clusters across the state: “We are incredibly concerned about the clusters of illness and the rising case numbers on the Navajo Nation as we are about similar situations all across the state. The governor was in early and constant communication with Nation leadership about their preparedness and supported their government’s efforts to impose curfews and limit movement, among other steps they’ve taken. The National Guard and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department have been working together diligently to ensure food and water have been delivered to communities on the Nation. The governor has been a persistent advocate to the White House about tribal needs in our state and beyond and has initiated a coordinated regional effort with the governors of Utah and Arizona to work with the IHS and federal government to ensure tribal communities in our states have the resources they need.“ The state picked Gallup because they identified the area as a hotspot and are anticipating extra medical care will be needed. Nearly half of the positive COVID-19 cases announced by the department of health Monday were in McKinley County. The USACE said setting up the school’s gym was no easy task. “There are lots of agencies in the country looking for the same sort of supplies and materials so that we can all do what we can to fight this horrible virus, so it has been difficult to get materials. You can see the hand washing sinks we got are actually laundry sinks. They meet the need and we could get them fast,” Scott said. Areas outside the gym were also transformed. What was once used as a snack bar has been converted into a pharmacy for medical staff. “This is almost complete, so you can see each person will have a privacy pod built around […]

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