SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Treatment began Sunday for coronvirus patients at a field hospital built inside the Santa Clara Convention Center as county health officials prepared for an expected surge of virus victims this week.

As of Sunday evening, Santa Clara County was the hardest hit by the illness of all the 10 Bay Area counties. There have been 1,207 confirmed cases in the county since the outbreak began in January with 59 new positives announced on Sunday.

The county has also had 39 deaths. Currently, there were 266 victims hospitalized in acute care or ICU beds within the county. Of the 435 ventilators available at the county’s hospitals, 217 were in use.

Two patients with less-acute coronavirus infections were admitted to the field (Field Respite Center) hospital on Sunday.

“Our County’s decision to be proactive from the onset of this crisis has ensured that we have leveraged important resources like the FRC (field hospital) before the need is significant,” said Supervisor Susan Ellenberg. “Today’s patients will have the ability to recuperate in a safe setting while still sheltering in place – keeping all of our residents and essential workers protected.”

The convention center has been outfitted with beds, supplies and medicines delivered by the National Guard and has the capacity to serve up to 250 people who have less-acute COVID-19 symptoms.

“Utilizing the convention center as a Field Respite Center backstops hospitals and other care providers preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong, the Branch Director for the Health Care Surge team within the County Emergency Operations Center.

Patients will be admitted via referral from other facilities – there will be no walk-up services available.

Santa Clara County is also working with businesses such as hotels to establish additional care locations and options for vulnerable populations, with sites secured in San Jose, Santa Clara and Gilroy to shelter and isolate homeless individuals.

“We are exploring every possible option in order to make sure all of our community members can receive care during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dr. Jeffrey V. Smith, County Executive.