The Contra Costa County Fair has been canceled for the second consecutive year due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Glenn Gehlke)

The Contra Costa County Fairgrounds in Antioch will be converted into a site to care for patients diagnosed with new coronavirus should the need arise, county health officials said.

The site, also known as the Contra Costa Event Center, can handle up to 43 patients who test positive for COVID-19 and need medical care short of hospitalization, according to Contra Costa Health Services.

The county has been identifying potential alternate care sites in anticipation of a surge of hospital patients testing positive for new coronavirus.

“The fairgrounds alternate care site is a great example of state, county, city and non-profit agencies coming together to create increased capacity to care for patients needing fewer resources, which frees up critical hospital beds in our healthcare system to fight COVID-19,” said county Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes Antioch.

The Craneway Pavilion at the Ford Point building in Richmond is already undergoing a conversion that started a week ago into a 250-bed facility for patients who do not require hospitalization. The Richmond site would be the first to open if the need arises, followed by the Concord Shelter and the Philip Doran Respite Center, also in Concord.

The fairgrounds would likely be the last to open, officials said. The American Red Cross is providing expertise in preparing the fairgrounds, officials said.

“Although the city of Antioch did not request for the county to select a site within our city, we understand the gravity of the moment,” Antioch Mayor Sean Wright said in a statement.

“In the fight to save lives, the world has been asked to step up and do more, Antioch is no exception to this reality. By working together, we will hopefully be able to minimize the number of lives lost to this horrible pandemic.”