Wave of Field Hospitals Deployed Across the U.S.
State and local authorities join Army Corps to convert space to relieve hospitals battling COVID-19
As 1,000 medical beds open at the Jacob Javits convention center in New York City to relieve hospitals fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as other federal, state and local authorities, are quickly deploying a wave of similar field facilities across the country—including in Seattle, New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Baltimore, Los Angeles and other cities.
With the highest concentration of coronavirus cases in the U.S., New York City has been a primary focus for the Corps.
Temporary sites for the city will also be set up at New York Expo Center in the Bronx, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the College of Staten Island. On Long Island, sites are being set up at Stony Brook University and SUNY College at Old Westbury.
Turner Construction will oversee the Stony Brook project—one of two Corps contracts the firm was awarded in late March.
Steve Fort, Turner senior vice president, says the company has responded to 10 agency requests for qualifications recently to support its field hospital efforts. “We will put about 1,000 temporary beds in play over the next 21 days at Stony Brook,” he said, noting crews mobilized will start work on April 4.
Turner was also awarded a contract by the Corps Chicago District to reopen the original Sherman Hospital site in Elgin, Ill., built in 1898 but closed in 2009, to provide around 200 beds.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced on March 28 that a field hospital, capable of handling 3,000 coronavirus patients, would open at Chicago's McCormick Place—the largest convention center in the U.S. This week, 500 beds are expected to be delivered with all work completed by April 24.
“We’re not waiting for the worst—we’re preparing ourselves for the worst,” Pritzker said.
On March 30, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced that the Corps would set up a 900-bed temporary hospital at the TCF Center—a convention center in Detroit—as an alternate care facility to address the lack of space at local hospitals.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that a 250-bed field hospital would open this week at the Meadowlands convention center in Secaucus. The state also has plans for 500 beds at convention center in Edison and 250 beds at the Atlantic City convention center.
During the March 28-29 weekend, the National Guard began setting up beds at the Los Angeles convention center to relieve pressure on hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. In announcing the project, led by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said details would be released this week. “We know we have to do everything possible to add to the supply of hospital beds,” he said.
The Army Corps also will set up about 250 beds at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson convention center in Dallas, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on March 29. He said the facilitycould hold up to 1,400 beds, if needed. “We must prepare for the worst-case challenges as they arise,” he said.
On March 28, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and local officials announced a 150-bed field hospital at CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle, which will be used to house non-COVID-19 patients.
“We are pulling out all the stops … to keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine (D) during the announcement. The CenturyLink project follows other field hospital projects in the area, including a 200-bed temporary tent facility constructed on a soccer field north of Seattle by the county Dept. of Community and Human Services.
Last week, crews began setting up beds at the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans convention center. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said that the state is prepared to initially stage 1,120 beds at the convention center.
At Baltimore's convention center, the Maryland National Guard is setting up a field hospital, expected to open by April 24, with at least 250 beds for patients recovering from COVID-19..
Last week, Florida field hospitals were deployed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as well as in the cities of Orlando, Ocala and Jacksonville. Two field hospitals are being prepared at the Miami-Dade Youth Fair grounds in Miami. The Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management is converting an existing event tent at the fairgrounds to accommodate up to 250 hospital beds.