Greater Columbus Convention Center staged as field hospital ahead of surge


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Crews are rapidly working on the Greater Columbus Convention Center to turn the event center into a field hospital, which is expected to be ready by Friday, April 10.

As the state of Ohio braces for the surge in COVID-19 cases, construction workers are preparing the convention center in case local hospitals cannot handle all the patients.

“In the last two weeks we went from a basic plant to what is going to be a fully operational field hospital,” said Dr. Bob Falcone, CEO of the Columbus Medical Association.

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The Columbus Medical Association shared pictures of the work going on inside the convention center. Dividers are going up to separate patients. The convention center will be able to hold up to 1,000 patients, with options to add 500 more beds.

“Over the weekend, we finished our logistics and our plans and began to lay out all the cabling, electricity and plumbing,” explained Dr. Falcone.

Thanks in large part to social distancing, according to Dr. Amy Acton, the latest models show the coronavirus peak in Ohio to be lower in cases per day than originally thought. They are preparing the convention center in case they need it.

“I'm hoping we don't. The projections I'm seeing in the last couple of days are looking more optimistic. If they come to bear, then we probably won't,” Dr. Falcone said.

Dr. Falcone says the convention center won't be staffed until the center is needed. He says it's better be safe and ready than sorry.

“We are ahead of the curve, planning for the worst, hoping for the best,” Falcone contends.

Dr. Falcone said they will be given a 72-hour head's up if they decide to open up the convention center.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 34,208 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 2,080 people have died from the virus and 6,205 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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