WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Army Corps of Engineers has looked at more than 650 sites around the United States that could possibly be converted into facilities to handle coronavirus patients or otherwise be used to deal with the growing epidemic.
Lieutenant General Todd Semonite told reporters at the Pentagon that he had received 750 requests to look at sites, out of which 673 had been looked at.
Semonite said that when assessing sites, he told local leaders some could be used to treat coronavirus patients, particularly convention centers that have been converted into hospitals.
The Pentagon said it would now allow patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, to be treated at the Javits Center in New York, a facility in New Orleans, Louisiana and another Dallas, Texas.
Previously, only non-coronavirus patients were being treated at those locations.
“We understand that introducing COVID-19 positive patients into the (federal medical station) environments elevates the risk of transmission to other patients and our medical providers,” the Pentagon statement said.
“This decision was risk-informed and made to ensure that (the Department of Defense) can continue to provide these local communities the type of medical care they most need,” it said.
The Pentagon also added that the Navy hospital ship Comfort, docked in New York, would now allow patients onboard through a simple pier-side screening which would check for temperature and a short questionnaire.
Until yesterday, the ship required local hospitals to carry out a complete coronavirus test and wait for a negative result before being allowed on the ship.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by David Gregorio