The District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have converted part of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center into an alternate care facility with 437 beds to be prepared for any medical surge related to COVID-19, if necessary.
“Our hope is that as Washingtonians continue working together to blunt the spread of COVID-19, we never get to the point of needing to use this site,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said. “But if we end up needing additional hospital capacity, these beds are here and ready for patients.”
Set up on the lower level, used for food service and car shows in the past, the finished rooms, open to the ceiling, are ready today for around 115 patients infected with the coronavirus, if need be, although those requiring ventilators will be moved to another hospital.
The site includes patient showers, staff showers and a staff lounge area, a dedicated fire alarm system, dedicated IT networks for staff, patients and equipment, a dedicated oxygen system and multiple redundant power backups.
More than a dozen local and federal agencies were involved in the construction of the site, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, DC Health, DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, DC Department of Public Works, DC Department of General Services, DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services, District Department of Transportation, DC National Guard and Events DC.
MedStar Health is the lead medical team for the convention center site.
As of May 10, hospital capacity for Washington, D.C., was 71 percent — 1,775 of 2,487 total hospital beds are occupied.
D.C. government reported on May 11 that the District has “117 new positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, bringing the District’s overall positive case total to 6,389. Tragically, 328 District residents have lost their lives due to COVID-19.”