Army Gen. Todd Semonite said the Army Corps of Engineers is working on 114 projects across 50 states and five territories to bring additional hospital space to cities whose health care systems are facing strain from coronavirus patients.
By next Monday, the Corps of Engineers will stand up 2,910 hospital rooms in the Javits Center in New York City, Semonite said.
The rooms will not be for coronavirus patients, but for non-coronavirus patients so that they can free up civilian hospital beds and intensive care units for those who are suffering from coronavirus.
The Corps does not build projects itself, but works with private contractors on projects. In this case, the corps has been turning existing spaces into makeshift hospital centers. Those spaces include stadiums and convention centers like the Javits Center.
The Corps of Engineers is prioritizing states under particular strain, including Washington, California, and Illinois, but are looking at requirements in every state.
Semonite implored private citizens — hotel owners, professors, and others — to come forward if they know of empty hotel buildings or dormitories that can be used for additional hospital space.
He said they should be contacting their mayors and governors to let the federal government know. The Army Corps of Engineers is working under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the coronavirus response.
But he said the Army Corps of Engineers is not sitting back either — if he sees a need and a lack of space available to meet it, he will send officials to those areas to identify spaces.
He said the corps is also working on a standard contract so that states can start directly working with contractors to add more hospital space themselves.