With no hockey games, concerts or other events to host, the Angel of the Winds Arena in downtown Everett is serving a new role: A place for people who have COVID-19, or have been exposed to it, to be quarantined if they have nowhere else to go.
The arena, which will be able to accommodate 100 people, will be ready to start operating as a quarantine site on Wednesday. It could have half a dozen people by the end of the week, said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, the retired Snohomish Health District health officer who will be heading up the facility.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Snohomish County had 1,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 87 people are hospitalized, 66 are in isolation and 33 have died. An additional 590 cases are currently being investigated, said Dr. Chris Spitters, the Snohomish Health District’s interim health officer.
The county decided to transform the arena so it could be ready if the number of cases continues to climb and the need for isolation and quarantine options grows, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said during a teleconference with reporters to discuss the facility.
“Vulnerable people need someplace to go, and this facility will give them that option,” Somers said.
For people under quarantine at the arena, who either can’t be isolated in their homes or don’t have shelter, the county will provide basic medical services, behavioral health care, treatment for opioid use disorder and other services, Somers said.
Patients can be referred to the arena site by the Snohomish Health District or doctors at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. There’s no requirement that patients stay at the arena, as is the case with a motel in Kent that King County bought for a similar purpose.
“It will be as secure as possible,” Goldbaum said. “Although everyone will be admitted with an order from a health officer, it is not a lockdown facility.”
The Everett Police Department and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will provide 24/7 security outside the arena.
How long someone stays at the arena will vary. For some, it could be a couple of days; for others, it could be as long as two weeks, Goldbaum said.
“It’s a little difficult to know how this is going to play out, but we feel good that this facility will serve an important need should we need it,” Somers said. “We are certain there will be some need. How much is yet to be seen.”