Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A 400-bed field hospital will be set up at the University of Kentucky as health officials prepare for a potential surge of coronavirus patients, UK HealthCare officials said Friday.

The goal is to have the makeshift hospital ready in the next two weeks at Nutter Field House, the football practice facility on the Lexington campus, said Dr. Mark F. Newman, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs.

Confronted by an “unprecedented” health crisis, Newman said it's “essential that we are prepared for any scenario to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community and the commonwealth.”

It's the latest move to create extra bed space as a potential backup for hospitals and health systems as the state braces for a continued escalation of coronavirus cases amid the global pandemic.

On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced plans to set up a 2,000-bed field hospital at the state fairgrounds in Louisville.

“Our goal is to be ready when the surge comes,” the governor said. “That doesn’t mean that we wait until we don’t have enough space and then try to put this together.”

Beshear on Thursday reported 100 new coronavirus cases statewide and 11 more virus-related deaths. Total Kentucky cases since the pandemic began approached 800 and the death toll reached 31.

Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

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