US Army to turn CenturyLink Field Event Center into a temporary hospital

Mar 28 2020, 10:14 pm

The Event Center at CenturyLink Field in downtown Seattle will be transformed into a temporary hospital to provide an urgent boost to the city’s hospital capacity.

This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases requiring hospital care continues to accelerate, which increasingly puts the state’s healthcare system at risk of being overwhelmed.

FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers have deployed 300 soldiers from the 627th Army Hospital from Colorado to assemble the field hospital and provide staffing and operational requirements.

The hospital will have an initial capacity of at least 150 beds for non-coronavirus cases, effectively freeing up bed space and resources at hospitals for coronavirus cases. With nearly 300,000 sq. ft. of exhibition hall and concourse space, the field hospital’s bed capacity at the Event Center can be expanded, if needed.

“As we continue to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Washington state, we also need to prepare our healthcare delivery system to deal with people who are sick, or may become ill, as well as all the other health needs of Washingtonians,” said Governor Jay Inslee in a statement.

“This field hospital will help us do that and I am grateful to the Army Corps of Engineers, US Army, and FEMA for bringing in these much needed resources of people, supplies and equipment.”

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Inside the IFEMA hospital in Madrid. (Community of Madrid)

Work will begin Sunday on setting up the beds and equipment, and it will take about a week to fully assemble the hospital.

“From the onset of this pandemic, Governor Inslee and local officials have acted quickly to slow the spread of the virus. The arrival of a military field hospital in Seattle is critical to expanding our region’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“We will work quickly with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to ensure that this field hospital is set up and ready to receive patients soon. I appreciate the advocacy of Governor Inslee, quick work of Vulcan Inc., the Seattle Seahawks, and CenturyLink Field to allow the rapid deployment of this field hospital, and I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the men of women of the U.S Army who will be doing life saving work.”

Around the world, the exhibition halls of convention centers in COVID-19 hotspot cities are being turned into field hospitals for the surge in bed capacity needed.

FEMA and the US Army are turning the exhibition hall of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan into a 1,000-bed temporary hospital for non-coronavirus patients. The plan is to build similar additional overflow field hospitals in each of New York City’s boroughs.

javits center new york hospital

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours the Javits Center Temporary Hospital. (Government of New York State)

In New Orleans, preparations are underway to transform the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s exhibition hall into a coronavirus overflow field hospital with about 1,100 beds.

In London and Madrid, convention centers in these cities are being converted into field hospitals for coronavirus patients, with up to 4,000 and 5,500 beds, respectively.

As of Saturday, there are are 4,310 confirmed and known cases of COVID-19 in Washington State, representing an increase of 587 cases over the previous day. The death toll currently sits at 189 people.