McCormick Place

Pritzker: Illinois Has ‘No Current Plans' to Turn McCormick Place Into Field Hospital

The facility was used as a field hospital during the early days of the pandemic in Illinois

NBCUniversal, Inc.

With the state of Illinois seeing increases in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says there are no plans currently in place to turn Chicago’s McCormick Place into a field hospital to deal with a potential surge in patients.

The convention center, which was prepared as an emergency field hospital earlier this year before being decommissioned when coronavirus cases and hospitalizations began to decrease, could still be used in that capacity in the future, but Pritzker says that advances in the treatment of coronavirus, and a better understanding of how the virus spreads, mean that the facility will not be used in that way during the current uptick in cases.

The governor says that the original spike in cases in March and April was one that was difficult to plan for and to project, but new knowledge gleaned from months of actions taken against the virus have shown that hospitals can take on the added load of coronavirus patients that the state is currently seeing.

“We just didn’t know where it would end,” Pritzker said. “We didn’t know whether a stay-at-home order would be enough. I think we’ve learned a great deal.”

The governor also said that MetroSouth Hospital is being “kept warm” as a potential option for state health officials to use in the event that hospitals near Chicago become overrun with coronavirus patients.

“We’ve kept warm at least one facility right now in suburban Cook County, but we have the ability, if we need to, to go and fire up a field hospital,” he said.

The state would like to try to avoid using additional medical facilities to combat the virus, but Pritzker says health officials are prepared and willing to do so if it becomes necessary.

“It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s an expensive thing to do, but it’s something we could do if needed,” he said.

As of midnight, 2,638 patients are hospitalized in Illinois with coronavirus or with COVID-19-like illnesses, the highest number the state has seen since early June. Of those patients, 589 are in intensive care units, the highest number since June 12. Of those, 238 are on ventilators, according to metrics made available by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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