What if we never need the $100 million coronavirus overflow hospitals Colorado is building? | VailDaily.com

What if we never need the $100 million coronavirus overflow hospitals Colorado is building?

Jennifer Brown, The Colorado Sun
Lt. Col. Larry Dale Caswell, Albuquerque district commander for the Army Corps of Engineers, speaks to reporters on Friday, April 10, 2020, in the Colorado Convention Center, which is being turned into a makeshift coronavirus hospital. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Coloradans are slowly starting to go back to work, schedule haircuts and meet up with friends. Meanwhile, the state is constructing five makeshift medical sites with the potential to hold thousands of sick coronavirus patients when and if the wave does come. 

The beds aren’t ready yet. And they aren’t needed, so far. 

The cost of this “insurance policy” in case the state’s hospitals become overwhelmed is huge: $70 million in construction costs, $30.7 million to lease the spaces until mid-January, and a potential $19.7 million in contracts with nine medical staffing companies that will supply the nurses and doctors. 

The lease for the most expensive location — The Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, which has yet to cancel its annual Great American Beer Festival scheduled for the fall — is $60,000 per day, whether there are patients or not.

Colorado is expecting that a public-assistance grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 75% of the bills, with Colorado paying the other 25%. Still, that’s $25 million in state funds  — not counting staffing costs — at a time when Colorado budget writers are preparing to slash spending for education, prisons and health insurance for children.

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