The Charlotte area has the capacity to handle peak coronavirus cases and won’t need a proposed 600-bed emergency field hospital, Novant Health and Atrium Health officials said in a letter today to Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio. The two health care systems are the dominant providers in the state’s biggest county.
Leaders of the system had told county commissioners last week that a field hospital in downtown Charlotte would probably be needed to handle the projected peak in coronavirus patients. The federal government had agreed to finance the facility, Diorio previously said. The request followed previous conjecture earlier this month over a possible 3,000-bed field hospital to be assembled at UNC Charlotte, which officials later rejected as unnecessary.
The decision-making process of local leaders was criticized in a Facebook post last night by Jo Bishop, the wife of U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, who represents parts of Mecklenburg County in a district that stretches to Robeson County. The Charlotte region has enough hospital beds, ventilators and ICU beds to handle the projected coronavirus peak, and area hospitals are overstating the amount of resources they need, Jo Bishop said in the post, citing the models that her husband had received from local authorities.
Mecklenburg County officials, Atrium and Novant have not provided detailed information about the models to local media.
In her post, Bishop says her husband requested the models local hospitals used to project the number of required beds, but didn’t receive them for nearly three weeks. After they were delivered, officials asked the congressman to keep them private, she said.
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There’s much discussion about which coronavirus models have the most accurate projections. The Centers for Disease Control hasn’t provided an official model, so the federal government and many states have relied on a model from the University of Washington. However, Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said this week that she was using a more pessimistic model from the University of Pennsylvania, after previously citing the Washington data. Predicting the curve is like hitting a moving target and total death projections have already fallen thanks to social distancing efforts.
In North Carolina, officials have been combining projections with models from local universities and federal data in a weather-forecasting approach to predicting the virus.
Efforts to get comment from Bishop and Mecklenburg County were not immediately successful today.
Nineteen people in Mecklenburg County have died from COVID-19, more than any other N.C. county, officials said today. The statewide death toll was 108.