Mayor Glenn Jacobs: Models show extra Knoxville hospital for COVID-19 patients may not be necessary


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs says the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency at this point is not pursuing building an additional hospital at the Knoxville Expo Center for COVID-19 patients.

With current forecast models showing no need at this point for additional hospital bed space in the area, TEMA will not pursue converting the Knoxville Expo Center into an alternative care site at this time. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue to assess the Knoxville Center/East Towne Mall location in the event an additional site is needed later.

“It’s a sign that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I would remind everybody that this is still a serious situation. it’s not like things are going to go back to normal tomorrow. the reason we are doing well is because we are following the guidelines for the social distancing, which means that COVID-19 is not spreading as rapidly as first projected. That’s been a recipe for success, so it’s not something that we can abandon now. We need to keep with that.”

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs

Officials will continue to pursue alternative care sites in Nashville and Memphis.

RELATED: IHME estimates on COVID-19 deaths in Tennessee dramatically lower

TEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a conference call at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Prior to that call, TEMA spokesperson Dean Flener released the following statement:

“The State of Tennessee evaluated 35 sites in Tennessee partnership with the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers to plan for how the State could increase its hospital bed capacity by using alternate care sites.
We are being very thoughtful in our decision making about the evaluated sites, knowing some or many, hopefully none, won’t need to be utilized.
The alternate care site planning process and determination remains very fluid and it would be premature to say right now which facilities will, or will not, be needed.”

Dean Flener, TEMA

This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update the details as they become available. Jacobs will also be the guest of Tennessee This Week on WATE 6 On Your Side at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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