RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam said the Richmond Convention Center, Hampton Roads Convention and the Dulles Expo Center will serve as COVID-19 "alternative care sites" in Virginia based on recommendations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Northam said the Greater Richmond Convention Center could care for 432 acute or 758 non-acute patients.
The Hampton Roads Convention Center could house 360 acute or 580 non-acute cases and the Dulles Expo could host 315 acute or 510 non-acute cases, officials said.
"Teams are moving fast and We expect these alternative care sites to be ready in about six weeks," Northam said.
Officials said the next steps for the project consist of settling the contracts, design and construction.
"I want to be clear. These facilities will be to free up capacity in the existing hospital system," Northam said. "Our models look at May as being the time when the surge will be most likely to occur."
Officials had previously mentioned the ExxonMobil facility in Fairfax as a potential site, but said Friday that Dulles was the site "where construction can proceed the fastest making it a better site."
Officials said the Hampton Convention Center was near Sentara and Riverside hospitals and "central to Hampton Roads."
Northam said Wednesday engineers evaluated 41 potential sites in the Commonwealth for alternative hospital beds.
Virginia's COVID-19 cases top 2,000
Officials said 306 more people tested positive for COVID-19 out of the 1,426 people tested since Thursday's update. That brings Virginia's total number of cases to 2,012.
Officials said 312 people remain hospitalized and 46 people have died as a result of COVID-19-related illnesses.
Officials are investigating several "distinct clusters" where there is "local transmission" of the virus in Virginia.
Those clusters include 372 cases in Fairfax County, 135 in Arlington County, 130 in Loudon County, 131 in Prince William County, 128 in Virginia Beach, 112 in Henrico County, 104 in James City County and 89 in Chesterfield County.
VDH data showed the coronavirus has most impacted people aged 50 to 69 since that group accounts for nearly 37 percent of cases.
Slightly more men have been infected by the virus at 991 cases versus the 988 cases reported in women. No gender was reported for 33 cases in the Commonwealth.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.