Detroit convention center will transform into makeshift medical site

    TCF Center, Detroit | Susan J. Demas

    Detroit’s TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Center, will be turned into a 900-bed medical site in response to COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus. Many metro Detroit hospitals are nearing capacity as the virus continues to spread.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Detroit District, recommended the large convention center be converted into an alternate care facility on Sunday, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave the go-ahead. 

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on COVID-19, March 18, 2020 | Susan J. Demas

    “The State of Michigan is working around the clock and doing everything we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Whitmer said in a statement Sunday. “We are proud to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and the TCF Center to expand capacity in Detroit. By mobilizing quickly to construct a large alternate care facility in Detroit, we can help save lives.”   

    In Michigan, there are now 5,486 positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, as of 3 p.m. Sunday, although state officials believe the actual number of cases is much higher. The state reports 132 people have reportedly died of COVID-19.

    Michigan has the fourth-most cases of any state. Southeast Michigan has been the hardest hit area in Michigan.

    Almost half of the state’s cases are found in Wayne County, and in Detroit alone, which is Michigan’s only city with its own health department, there have been 1,542 cases and 35 deaths reported. Combined with the rest of Wayne County’s numbers, those add up to 2,704 cases and 56 deaths in that county.

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    Macomb County has 620 cases and 20 deaths. Oakland County has 1,170 cases and 34 deaths.

    According to the USACE, construction will begin after contracts are wrapped up in 24 to 36 hours, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will fund the construction and supply the site. 

    As the Advance previously reported, officials at several colleges, including Oakland University and Grand Valley State University, have been in talks to provide venues for medical care during the COVID-19 crisis.

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.