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Corps of Engineers Makes Way For Thousands of Hospital Beds

April 8, 2020 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

The Army Corps of Engineers is making significant progress in providing thousands of hospital beds for the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic in facilities built to handle patients with and without the virus.

The Corps of Engineers is working on 27 mission assignments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has the lead role in the pandemic, officials said. Those mission assignments will cost $1.6 billion. 

Workers gather supplies for a hospital.
Supply Shipment
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the Army Corps of Engineers and federal, state and local partners, brings in supplies for hospital facilities at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 23, 2020. The hospital started out with a capacity of 250 beds, but it quickly expanded to 1,000 beds.
Photo By: K.C. Wilsey, FEMA
VIRIN: 200323-O-KW201-885

Some 15,000 Corps of Engineers personnel are involved in those projects, and another 2,020 employees have been deployed to support FEMA and the COVID-19 response operations. 

So far, 834 of 914 alternate care facility site assessments that FEMA requested are complete, and the engineers also have the ability to cater designs for COVID-19 or non-COVID-19 facilities, depending on states' requirements, officials said. 

A site assessment entails looking at all kinds of facilities — from small buildings such as hotels and college dormitories to larger sites such as field houses and convention centers, Army Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, the Corps of Engineers commander, said at an April 3 Pentagon news conference. "We have the depth and the capacity to be able to do that," he said. "We are not resource-constrained right now."

Pallets are stacked with cardboard boxes.
Secaucus Shipment
The New Jersey All Hazard Incident Management Team, with technical support from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Army Corps of Engineers, manages the physical buildout of the 250-bed Meadowlands Field Medical Station in Secaucus, N.J., March 31, 2020. These medical stations increase local health care capabilities and can be tailored to meet local requirements.
Photo By: K.C. Wilsey, FEMA
VIRIN: 200331-O-KW201-753

Additionally, the engineers are applying their expertise to reopen previously shuttered hospital facilities. 

The agency is executing construction contracts for 17 alternate care facility sites in eight states — New York, California, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, Tennessee and Illinois — which will add 15,587 beds to ease critical hospital bed shortages. 

Contracts for 20 alternate care facilities with 5,033 beds are pending award. In addition, 17 sites are under consideration, which could add another 16,458 hospital beds. 

Dozens of partitions and cots are set up on a large convention center floor.
Care Facility
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the state of New York and the Army Corps of Engineers work to complete the construction of an alternate care facility at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 26, 2020.
Photo By: K.C. Wilsey, FEMA
VIRIN: 200326-O-GS122-396C

Seven states are using the Corps of Engineers' exportable design and contracting packages to construct 18 alternate care facilities, which will offer a total of 7,361 beds under their own contracts.