Army Corps. Of Engineers Transforming Public Spaces into Makeshift Hospitals

By: Marie McCarthy

The coronavirus was expected to hit its peak in many parts of the country by mid-April. Thousands of municipalities have prepared for an inevitable possibility that they will run out of physical space for patients.  In many cities, gyms, conference centers, hotels, stadiums, churches and more are being transformed into makeshift hospitals to accommodate COVID-19 patients.

In Hawaii, the US Army Corps of Engineers is contracting with local construction companies to retrofit facilities into patient wards. KITV Honolulu says “construction firms will be required to mobilize within two to three calendar days of contract award and be prepared for an aggressive completion of any project.”

Detroit, Michigan has become a hotspot of the outbreak, with tens of thousands of cases emerging. Area hospitals are overwhelmed, and the Army Corps selected an old convention center to bear some of that burden.

The TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Hall, is most famous for hosting the North American International Auto Show, but now it will host patients. With the help of the Army Corps, the building is set to be retrofitted in just 9 days time.

They plan to put 1,000 patients on 250,000 square feet of adapted space. The Detroit News reports the crews are installing 10 by 10 foot partitions that are made of plastic for easy cleaning. The state of Michigan is also considering moving overflow patients into Wayne State University dorms or into a practice facility for the Detroit Pistons basketball team.

In New York City, the Army Corps of Engineers has completed conversion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. More than 165 people worked on the design and engineering of the site, which will now host more than 2,000 patients. Interestingly, the makeshift hospital will be used to treat people who are not battling COVID-19 so that traditional hospitals in the area can best help people suffering from the outbreak.