April 8, 2020
By Terri Moon Cronk
Corps of Engineers Makes Way For Thousands of Hospital Beds
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.
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."
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.
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.
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