Cedars-Sinai sets up medical tents in parking garage to screen patients for COVID-19

BEVERLY GROVE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Poke your head into the parking garage attached to the emergency room at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and you won't see any cars.

Instead you'll see three tents lined up right next to each other which are being used as a makeshift ER for people who are suspected to have novel coronavirus. The goal: keep the virus from spreading to other people in the complex.

"For patients who have respiratory symptoms, we can direct them to that area to keep them separate from the general patient population," said Dr. Jeff Smith, the Chief Operating Officer at Cedars.

Dr. Smith says some patients will not require hospitalization and can self-isolate at home.

"Some patients will require testing. Some patients may require hospitalization because they're sicker and so they're triaged in that manner to the appropriate level of care," he told Eyewitness News.

The hospital is also rescheduling elective surgeries that are deemed to be not urgent in order to free up staffing and hospital facilities in case of an unexpected spike in cases.

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In Orange County, another hospital is taking its own approach to evaluating potential COVID-19 patients: drive-thru screening for the virus.

It's set up in the parking lot of St. Jude Heritage Medical Group in Yorba Linda. The hospital says it is only accepting people who have a doctor's referral - anyone without one will be turned away.

Dr. Smith says current testing is "limited." The test itself can be completed quickly but getting the results takes time.

That's why some biotech companies are scrambling to come up with a COVID-19 test that delivers results in minutes, instead of hours or even days.

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Biotech startup Fluxergy is working with the University of California, San Diego to get their test through the clinical evaluation stage and hopefully put a dent in infection numbers.

"The countries that have done the best in terms of lowering their mortality is flattening the curve by testing so knowing where the infections are happening and knowing who's getting infected, etc. That turns out to be our biggest holdup," said UC San Diego's Davey Smith.
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