Army Engineers Now Helping Build 25 Field Hospitals Nationwide

April 7, 2020 Updated: April 7, 2020

The number of field hospitals across the United States continues to grow, with the Army Corps of Engineers now working on a total of 25 sites nationwide.

Construction has already started on 15 sites with a total of 14,810 beds, according to an April 6 statement, with some facilities nearing completion.

The majority of the beds are in converted sports arenas and convention centers across 14 states. Hotels and student dormitories are also being converted.

A 3,000-bed facility at Chicago’s McCormick Place—the largest convention center in the country—will be the largest facility once construction has finished on April 24.

Epoch Times Photo
One of 500 beds in Hall C Unit 1 of the COVID-19 alternate site at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on April 3, 2020. ( Chris Sweda-Pool via Getty Images)

In New York, the field hospital in the Javits Center in Manhattan already has 1,000 beds after finishing the first phase of construction. The second phase, already 80 percent complete, will add another 1,900 beds.

The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) does not use troops to directly build the facilities itself but runs point on the process, assessing the suitability of sites against requested requirements, before identifying and overseeing contractors or providing recommendations on designs to local mayors.

The total cost of the facilities so far on the USACE list is $1.5 billion.

To be effective in combating the CCP virus as it peaks in different states, according to the USACE, the sites must be “completed in as little as 5 days, and at most 2 weeks.”

USACE has so far done a total of 828 site assessments out of 879 requests from across the nation. Knowing in advance which sites are suitable allows them to get ahead of the curve, so they are ready to act as different hotspots emerge.

“This has to be an agile plan,” Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, the commander of USACE, told reporters on April 3. “This virus gets a vote, and we have to figure out how it is going to continue to change over time. We’ve got to be smart enough to try to anticipate where that change is going to come and if nothing else to have the appropriate amount of facilities there.”

The USACE has been adapting standard designs, innovating and learning as they set up more hospitals.

However, the USACE doesn’t have to complete the hospitals themselves, but can hand over the job to local mayors. It can assess suitability, come up with a design, and hand that over to local authorities who can sort out local contractors. They can even recommend leases for hotel sites.

“Every single site is custom-built. Every single site is built to the specifications of the medical plan that that mayor wants to use,” said Semonite. “And every single site is being done with a different type of a business case on who are the contractors, who provides the rest of the support services.”

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