NORFOLK, Va., — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) submitted more than a dozen possible facilities across Virginia that could serve as alternative medical facilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
USACE crews assessed 41 different facilities over the last week and a half in support of the FEMA mission, according to field assessment team leader Tom Booth.
Booth serves as the USACE Norfolk District’s deputy chief for engineering construction.
“What we are doing is assessing them to make sure they meet the minimum criteria or what additional work they might need in order to be used for alternative care facilities,” Booth explained.
The engineers recommended 13 sites to state health officials that met the minimum criteria.
Engineers sought facilities with suitable HVAC systems and electricity, ADA compliant, sufficient fire suppression equipment and sites constructed after 1990.
USACE focused on arenas, hotels and dormitories across there state. It’s now left up to state officials to select and identify the final locations.
“The Virginia National Guard is providing personnel to assist with the alternative care planning with the team that includes Army Corps of Engineers and Virginia Department of Emergency Management,” according to Virginia National Guard spokesperson Cotton Puryear.
Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins would not name the possible field hospital sites, but said they’re mostly looking at two regions in Virginia to install the first field hospital, if needed.
“We do know that we are looking at the Northern Virginia area and based on the numbers of tests we are seeing coming out of there. We are also looking at the Hampton Roads region as well. Between those two areas we are looking at sites to try to determine where do we think our hospitals will exceed capacity,” Hopkins explained.
On Thursday, VCU Health announced plans to add nearly 500 hospital beds in anticipation of a surge of patients during the pandemic.
Crews began overhauling the Honor’s College dorm rooms on West Grace Street into about 180 beds.
The former hospital will house non-COVID-19 patients, according to a VCU spokesperson.