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Army Corps of Engineers Offers Governors, Mayors Medical Site Assessments

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Mayors and governors looking to get assessments of certain sites that have the potential to temporarily act as medical facilities can look to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for help. 

"We have the depth and the capacity to be able to do that. We are not resource constrained right now," said Army Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, the commander of USACE, at a press briefing at the Pentagon.


Recounting USACE's efforts to combat the coronavirus, he noted that requests for site assessments have exploded in the last few days. On March 27, there were 114. Today's number is 750, Semonite said.

Of the total 750 requests thus far, 673 site assessments have been completed.

Contracts have been awarded already for eight new medical facilities, totaling 9,693 beds, he said. Nine contracts are currently pending, totaling 5,039 beds. Tentative contracts pending are 15 facilities totaling 10,979 beds. Those are tentative because the governor or mayor must first approve the plan.

Mayors and governors are coordinating their plans with USACE, he said. They are the final decision makers about the location of the facility.

Construction team surveys space.
Site Assessment
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District team conducted five site assessments at various locations on the island of Hawaii (this site is Kailua-Kona) for potential conversion to alternate care facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on April 1, 2020.
Photo By: Meg Ryan, USACE
VIRIN: 200401-A-A1410-004C

A site assessment, he said, entails USACE looking at all kinds of facilities, from small buildings like hotels and college dormitories to larger sites like field houses and convention centers.

The engineers are assessing sites that can apply to either COVID-19 or non-COVID-19 patients, he said.

As site assessments continue, the engineers have been extremely innovative and have shared lessons learned, which are being applied to what is called the standard model for site assessments, he said.

As work continues, the standard model gets refined, he added, noting that that model has been vetted through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has the lead on this entire effort, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services.

Man inspects some medical equipment as part of a site survey.
Site Evaluation
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District, at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state of Arkansas, is evaluating sites across the state for the possible conversion into alternate care facilities, April 1, 2020.
Photo By: Erin Jimenez, USACE
VIRIN: 200402-A-UH046-1007C

The goal behind the standard design model, Semonite said, is to more quickly deliver capability to the medical workers.

In planning for construction, USACE is using modeling data which shows state and local projections for when peak capacity is needed on a particular date, he said. USACE also knows how many beds are available and how many new beds may be required at peak demand.

Not all facilities must be built by the Corps of Engineers. USACE is also sharing its designs with state and city leaders who may want to erect facilities on their own.

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