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In an effort to halt the COVID-19 pandemic and increase the medical capacity, the United States Army Corps of Engineers has stepped in to convert buildings into hospitals to help those in need during these trying times. Their plan is expected to provide 10,000 hospital beds in New York, which has 21,689 confirmed cases and 157 deaths in total, as of today.
The surging number of cases resulted in a growing need for intensive care facilities. Numerous states and local municipalities across the country are also working to retrofit hotels, convention centers, and bankrupt hospitals.
The plan was announced in a press briefing, published on March 29th via US Army's Twitter account. In the video, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, Chief of the Army Corps, presents a plan crafted by engineers to convert existing hotels into "ICU-like facilities".
Lt. Todd Semonite, Chief of the @USACEHQ, provides a 'simple' solution to the complicated problem of building temporary medical facilities to assist states with responding to #COVID19. This clip is from a press conference by Army senior leader on March 20, 2020. pic.twitter.com/HrASBfRSjz— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 21, 2020
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Previously, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had urged the Army Corps of Engineers to turn buildings into hospitals to solve the growing need due to the major influx of COVID-19 patients.
Regarding the plan, Semonite stated, “This is an unbelievably complicated problem, and there's no way we are going to be able to do this with a complicated solution. We need something super simple. So our concept here is a standard design.”
“We want to go into existing facilities: primarily hotels, college dormitories, and perhaps large spaces,” Semonite explained. He also added that the Army Corp would arrange short-term lease agreements with the facilities to retrofit the structures “over a period of days” for intensive-care use.
Moreover, Semonite explained the general idea of the plan by saying, “Think of the second floor of a standard hotel. The room would be like a hotel room and we’d built nurses stations in the hall, and we would have all the equipment wirelessly going into the nurse’s stations so you can monitor how it is going.”
"We're looking very hard at California, the state of Washington, we've already been to New Jersey. We're really looking at where's the biggest demand so we go to those states first," Semonite added.
The COVID-19 pandemic had the US military providing support by ordering two hospital ships to be deployed and putting several other field hospital units on alert. Moreover, on March 20th, Defense Secretary Mark Esper stated that more than 4,000 National Guard troops were deployed in 31 states to help combat the virus.
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