US Army plans to convert convention centres into hospitals to ease Covid-19 crisis

The US Army Corps of Engineers is to convert buildings into field hospitals in New York, and is assessing buildings for site conversions in Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak to provide overflow capacity for non-Covid-19 patients.

The Jacob K Javits Convention Centre in Manhattan (pictured above) will be converted into a 1,000-bed hospital with 1,800 field medical stations by the corps, with work beginning this week, and due to last a week to 10 days.

Other convention centres in New York are being assessed for conversion, as are other large buildings such as dormitories. The factors taken into account include the space available for isolation rooms and how easy it would be to create a negative air pressure to stop the virus spreading from room-to-room.

The corps plans to lease properties if it does not already own them.

Colonel John Litz, the corps’ Baltimore District commander, said: "We are working aggressively across all levels of government in line with our partners to assist our region and the nation in a time of crisis to the very best of our capabilities, as the federal government’s public works and engineering experts."

The corps has produced a standardised design document for retrofitting medical facilities.

  • Edited 31 March to clarify the purpose of the temporary hospitals

Image: The Jacob K Javits Convention Centre (Ajay Suresh/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

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