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$1.5 Million In State Contracts For Hospital Overflow And Quarantine Sites Went Unused

Photo of rows of cots in a large warehouse.
Courtesy Utah Department of Public Safety
The state set up a hospital overflow site in early April in response to COVID-19, but no hospitals have had to send any patients there.

Utah spent nearly $1.5 million on a quarantine center and a hospital overflow site, but did not use either. Those contracts will expire at the end of May and June respectively.

In early April, the state set up 250 cots, along with medical equipment, in an expo center in Sandy and spent more than $1.2 million on that contract. 

The idea was that hospitals could move patients that weren’t seriously ill to the expo center if they ran out of capacity due to COVID-19 patients. But that hasn’t been necessary so far, according to Utah’s Commissioner of Public Safety Jess Anderson. 

“Our hospitals all along and our bed count and our bed capacity has done really well,” Anderson said. “That's what we like to see. We prepare for the worst and hope for the best and this very case is indicative of that.”

That contract is set to expire at the end of June. Anderson said if there’s a surge of cases, the state can set one up again within a day. 

The state also rented out 60 hotel rooms through the end of May for $245,000. They intended to use it as a place for people experiencing homelessness or people traveling through the state to self-isolate if they contracted coronavirus.

We've been very fortunate,” Anderson said. “We as a state, using the state resource, have not had a need to use those rooms for quarantine and isolation.”

Counties have created their own quarantine facilities that have taken on those people instead, Anderson said, so the state will let that contract expire as well.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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