By: Christopher Sirota, CPCU
To handle the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients and forecasts for hospital beds, buildings in many impacted areas are reportedly being converted into hospital-like facilities.
- NBC reports that in addition to a field hospital being set up in Central Park, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is being converted into a 350-bed temporary hospital. Also, the Javits Convention Center will be converted into an emergency facility with 2,500 beds.
- NY1 reports that, also in New York City, 20 hotels will be converted into hospitals for "'[…] patients who don’t need to be incubated, who are recovering but not well enough to leave the hospital […].'"
- CNN reports that London's ExCeL Center will be converted into a hospital. Per the article, "[w]hen fully running, it will have 4,000 beds. Just a few dozen were ready at the time a CNN crew visited. Electricians were still running cables, plumbers installing sinks, and vast halls were still stacked with plastic-wrapped machinery."
- News Channel 5 reports that Tennessee plans to convert "'[…] convention centers, rural hospitals, motels, college dorms, hotels, [and] hotel ballrooms […].'" The article explains this effort is being made because one forecast "suggests that the COVID-19 outbreak will peak in Tennessee on April 19th, with the state needing 14,945 hospital beds [but currently] there are only 7,812 available beds."
- The Hill reports that the Army Corp of Engineers "has assessed 81 of  locations — including hotels, sports arenas, convention centers, college dormitories and fairgrounds — that could either accept patients who have contracted COVID-19 or treat non-infected individuals in order to free up overwhelmed hospitals […and once] a facility is confirmed, the city would then lease it and the corps would hire contractors to complete construction to convert the site within weeks."
- Bloomberg reports that in India even railway cars are planning to be converted. According to the article, about 5000 coaches will be fitted with "[m]osquito nets and charging points for mobile phones and laptops […] and space has been created for paramedics […]." The railway has reportedly been completely shut down because of the COVID-19 crisis.
See also the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA®) guidance: Recovering from COVID-19 Building Closures: Guidance Document.