First look inside TCF Center transformation to a COVID-19 field hospital

A massive transformation is underway at the TCF Center, which will become a makeshift hospital.

Plans are underway for the former Cobo Center to care 1,000 COVID-19 patients in a matter of weeks. Outside the TCF Center is a message of strength - "Detroit, we're all in this together."

"We don't stop, we are going to keep working on this," said Mike Allis, the project manager.

Inside is a look at our city taking action. At the current rate of reported coronavirus cases,  there will not be enough hospital beds to treat COVID-19 patients.

TCF Center is undergoing a massive transformation to become an alternative care facility, made up of two floors and enough space for 1,000 patients.

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"Our mission is to get the spaces set up," Allis said. "After we are done with that, hopefully in the next week or so, other agencies, other state entities, will come in, will furnish this, get the beds installed, train staff  and get moving on that."

The makeshift hospital will be designed with negative pressure specifically for coronavirus patients, who need oxygen. Crews are busy putting up metal and plastic partitions that will provide some privacy for for patients. Nursing stations will also be set up for the health care workers.

FEMA is footing the bill for the alternative care facility that will be run by the US Army Corp of Engineers.

"We definitely try to keep our space," Allis said. "We do the whole social distancing thing and try to stay away from each other. But it is more working in shifts." 

The facility will be split up with one section serving the most severe COVID-19 patients and the other floor with those who are recovering.

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The buildout started Tuesday. A completion date has not been set - but Allis says his team is working around the clock to make this happen.

"We are eager to help," he said. "We have the ability to help and we will do this as soon and as professionally as we can."

The US Army Corps of Engineers is also looking at other potential treatment sites for field hospitals including Wayne State University's dorms or the Detroit Pistons performance center. All are being considered.

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

Are you showing symptoms? Try Beaumont's virtual screening tool

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.