The Daviess County Emergency Management Agency, along with Owensboro Heath Regional Hospital and other health organizations, are considering the use of the Owensboro Convention Center to house coronavirus patients.

The center, if need be, would potentially be used as an alternate care site, said agency Director Andy Ball.

“EMA, OH, shelters and nursing facilities are looking at the convention center if we begin to have issues meeting capacities,” he said. “We would use the center for acute care patients that are infected and can’t return home for a short period. It would be for positive cases, just not ones that require hospitalization.”

The meeting to discuss the possibility of using the convention center to house coronavirus patients will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday with various agency heads. As of now, there aren’t hard numbers for how many patients the facility could hold, but Ball is hoping to have a plan to area health and service industry officials on Monday before sending it to Kentucky Emergency Management on Tuesday for final approval, Ball said.

While the use of the convention center is only in the possibility stage, there are various actions being taken by agencies throughout Owensboro and Daviess County to aid first responders and the community.

On Thursday, the agency and Mike Rodgers, Owensboro Community & Technical College chief institutional officer and executive director of the OCTC Foundation, are working with handpicked volunteers to create 500 face shields for area service organizations and those on the front lines of the COVID -19 pandemic, Ball said.

The materials for the masks have been gathered from various organizations around town including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Apollo High School and Gordon’s True Value Hardware. Ball is keeping the volunteers to a minimum, he said.

“We are contacting people that we have worked with in the past and can confirm are healthy,” he said. “The masks are made up of the transparency sheets they use for overhead projectors, window and door stripping and elastic bands that we purchased locally to hold the mask to the face.”

After designing several templates, they feel that the masks will serve responders and add an additional layer of safety as they deal with the public, he said.

“Most people will wear a mask under the shield,” he said. “It is meant to protect the face, eyes — essentially those areas not protected alone with the masks. These masks are mainly for healthcare workers and those responders that will be within six feet of a patient.”

Aside from masks, the agency is also expecting a shipment of rice and pasta from Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to aid community service organizations in bolstering their food stores.

Kentucky VOAD is a group of organizations that share knowledge and resources throughout a disaster cycle — preparation, response and recovery — to support and offer assistance to disaster survivors and their communities. The shipment is expected over the weekend, said Dave Clark, an AmeriCorps member assigned to the agency.

“From my understanding, the shipment will consist of dry goods,” he said. “I was told that it would be a cargo van of product. How much that means, I don’t know, but it will be a fair amount. We are going to be providing the products to the Salvation Army, Bellevue Baptist Church and Lewis Lane Baptist Church.”

The Green River District Health Department, which serves seven counties and is involved with service agencies around the region, is expecting to be able to send out supplies for its third push since the outbreak of the pandemic, said Laurie Heddleson, department director of financial administrative services.

“We are getting in the kinds of supplies that the hospitals and testing facilities need,” she said. “For our seven counties, we are getting seven pallets, one per county. We are expecting 48 5-gallon buckets of disinfectant cleaner and 84 cases of 1-gallon jugs of hand sanitizer.”

While masks and gloves are still hard to come by, the department is planning to supplement the deliveries with 16 cases of masks per county, 18 boxes of hand sanitizer and seven boxes of gloves of various sizes, she said.

“That will come close to tapping us out,” she said. “We will have one more push of about that same size and we are trying to stretch it out so we have materials going where they need to go, but that will pretty much exhaust us. That is a big shortage and it is worldwide.”

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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