GALLUP – A high school in Gallup will reopen its gym as a 60-bed alternative care facility to help hospitals treat an increasing number of coronavirus patients – this as state officials on Saturday announced 87 new COVID-19 cases in New Mexico, bringing the total to 1,798, and two more deaths.
Forty of the new cases were reported in McKinley County alone, according to a news release from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office. The two deaths involved a Bernalillo County woman in her 60s and a McKinley County woman in her 40s. Both were hospitalized and had underlying health issues, the state said.
The number of COVID-19-related deaths in New Mexico now stands at 53, according to state health officials.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expecting to turn over the keys to Miyamura High School to local and state health officials on Monday, about two weeks after construction began, the Gallup Independent reported.
“The majority of the big items are in,” Project Manager Amanda Velasquez said. “Everything is more of the fine tuning now.”
Vinyl flooring and rubber pads were fixed to the gym floor, swamp coolers were placed on the roof to provide cool air, and two large exhaust ducts were installed to provide proper ventilation and separate dirty and clean air, said Lt. Col. Robin Scott, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Albuquerque District.
“We came up with a simple design. This wasn’t a time for us to get fancy,” Scott said.
The gym now features 60 patient pods separated by medical curtains, which each include one electrical outlet, an Ethernet jack, lighting and oxygen, Velasquez said. Laundry sinks are also positioned throughout the gym as hand-washing stations.
Other places in the school are also being transformed, such as locker rooms to shower rooms, classrooms to medical staff lounges and storage and the snack bar to a pharmacy, Velasquez said.
Lujan Grisham first announced that the high school was selected as the site for an auxiliary hospital in McKinley County on April 3.
The first patients with COVID-19 may be admitted as early as April 25, local hospital officials said.
The Saturday news release from the Governor’s Office says there are 92 people currently in the hospital with the virus and 465 designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.
Aside from McKinley County, the new cases reported include 17 in San Juan County, 13 in Bernalillo County, 10 in Sandoval County, two each in Doña Ana and Santa Fe counties and one each in Guadalupe, Cibola and Quay counties.