State rejects Fresno Fairgrounds for makeshift regional hospital site

A plan to utilize the Fresno Fairgrounds as a triage center in response to the outbreak of coronavirus appears to be off.

Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes told The Sun on Monday that officials with California’s Office of Emergency Services rejected the Fresno Fairgrounds as a potential site of a triage center to be utilized if Valley hospitals become overloaded with patients.

A key factor to state regulators were the number of old buildings situated on the sprawling plot of southeast Fresno real estate that were not built up to current building codes, Mendes noted.

The decision by California officials also prohibits Fresno County from temporarily staging 250 hospital beds being provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The move comes as a bait-and-switch to County leaders, as the Fairgrounds have been part of its public health response plans for more than a decade, Mendes said.

Fresno County is set to host one of eight statewide triage centers. Another triage center, in Los Angeles, is being established in the Los Angeles Convention Center to provide quarantine space. Potential operations in that southern California triage center included non-licensed medical care, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

Fresno County officials, however, emphasized that medical professionals from local hospitals would provide services if the triage center opened.

With the Fairgrounds a non-starter with state officials, one alternative site for the triage center includes Fresno’s Convention Center complex and Selland Arena.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at