Coronavirus: Gov. Lee cites Knoxville Expo Center as possible auxiliary hospital site

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – While announcing the state’s new stay-at-home order, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee identified several sites across that state that may be converted into hospital spaces in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus in Tennessee: Gov. Lee issues order requiring Tennesseans to stay home

Governor Bill Lee said the state is assessing sites across the state to build what he describes as, “alternative healthcare facilities.” Officials identified the Knoxville Expo Center as one of those locations, in addition to Nashville’s Music City Center, the Gateway Shopping Center in Memphis and the Chattanooga Convention Center.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the State of Tennessee’s COVID-19 major disaster declaration which will give the state assistance from the US Army Corps of Engineers to make new medical facilities like the Knoxville Expo Center.

US Army Corps of Engineers Thursday described a four-step process to building out these facilities:

  1. Choose a site (already underway).
  2. US Army Corps of Engineers will build out the site to medical-acceptable standards, will require understanding of equipment, negative air pressure, etc.
  3. Supply the site with the equipment and materials necessary.
  4. Staffing the site with plenty of healthcare professionals to treat patients housed there.

Governor Lee said he will meet with Knoxville city leaders later Friday to discuss the building’s conversion. This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update the details as they become available.

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