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As Orange County continued a daily streak of record-setting COVID-19 hospitalizations, officials opened a mobile hospital for up to 40 patients in the parking lot of UCI Medical Center.

The county reported 2,145 patients, with 479 in intensive care, and 27 additional deaths.

The mobile facility is designed to relieve pressure on the emergency department and inpatient care units caused by the surge of COVID-19 patients across Orange County.

Doctors said they are licensed to treat 40 patients outside the walls of the main facility. The tented units will hold up to 50 people. Some are waiting to go inside the hospital or may only need a few days care before going home.

As of Wednesday, there were 20 patients inside the mobile field hospital.

“We transfer patients in from throughout OC so our ICU beds are normally very very full so we’re used to being in this state,” said CEO Chad Lefteris.

The hospital has more than 400 beds but because of what they call the unrelenting rise in coronavirus patients, there very few available for intensive care.

“We can’t stop being the only level 1 trauma center. We can’t stop being only stroke, only burn center, and this facility lets us do that,” said Dr. Sebastian Schubl, a trauma surgeon.

Another tent is being used for emergency room overflow in another parking lot nearby.

The last hurdle say doctors is to ensure there is enough staff to keep every licensed bed open. They said they are hiring medical personnel from across the country, paying — in their words — whatever is necessary.

The mobile field hospital will remain in place until half of the entire country is vaccinated, UCI doctors said.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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