McCormick Place alternate care facility to house patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms

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CHICAGO — A section of McCormick Place is being converted to treat coronavirus patients with mild symptoms.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot provided their daily briefings Friday from the convention center, before touring what’s become the McCormick Place alternate care facility.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois National Guard have spent over a week transforming much of the exhibit space in the nation’s largest convention center.

Five hundred beds are now ready and many more are planned. Eventually, McCormick Place will be able to handle 3,000 COVID-19 patients. In particular, those with less severe cases who do not need intensive care.

With an anticipated surge in patients later this month, the state wants to ensure there are enough beds to care for the sick.

We all hope we don’t need to take care of a patients here but it unlikely,” said Executive Director Dr. Nick Turkal. “We will be prepared. I’m flooded with pride and patriotism.”

Both the mayor and governor went after White House advisor  Jared Kushner said the federal stockpile of PPE didn’t belong to the states.

“JB, I’d like to remind Jared Kushner that this is the United States of America,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

In addition to the 3,000 beds planned for McCormick Place, hundreds are planned at other facilities, including recently closed hospitals such as Sherman Hospital in Elgin, MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island and Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park.

Eventually the alternate care facility will take up three of the exhibit halls. It is coming together with $15 million in federal funding from FEMA.

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