Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says that plans to convert part of Chicago’s McCormick Place into a care facility for individuals with the novel coronavirus are progressing quickly, and that the first 500 beds at the facility will be in place this week.
According to the governor, the first delivery of beds to the facility was made over the weekend. By the end of April, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois National Guard plan to have 3,000 beds available for patients dealing with COVID-19.
“On behalf of a grateful state, thank you,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said that the facility at McCormick Place will be designed to help patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms, and who don’t require intensive care. The plan for the temporary hospital is to “relieve pressure on the hospital system by freeing up beds for more patients with severe COVID-19 cases,” according to a state press release.
The governor activated 30 Airmen from the Illinois National Guard to assist with the labor associated with the project. The state received $15 million in federal funding from FEMA to help support construction plans designed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The state is also working with the Corps to reopen the Advocate Sherman Hospital campus in suburban Elgin, as well as the Metro South Health Center in Blue Island to help ease strain on the state’s hospital system.
While Pritzker says he hopes the additional space won’t be needed, the state is being forced to prepare for that eventuality as cases of the virus continue to increase.
“If we never have to go beyond our existing facilities, we will all be very happy. But since we can’t guarantee that – and in fact, we don’t have the data yet to suggest otherwise – we are actively building our capacity,” he said.