I-X Center being evaluated as possible site for medical facility amid coronavirus pandemic, sources tell FOX 8

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The I-X Center is being evaluated to serve as a possible site for an alternate medical facility amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources tell FOX 8.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio National Guard were at the center Monday morning and planned to evaluate at least three sites in Northeast Ohio.

Hospital capacity is expected to be stretched to its limits and temporary hospitals have already been set up in other states, including New York.

The I-X Center is now available, as planned shows have been canceled due to state orders limiting large gatherings.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District said it has deployed field assessment teams to evaluate facilities in Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania for possible conversion into alternate care facilities. It said personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local emergency management and medical personnel are also taking part in initial and in-depth site assessments at multiple locations determined by state leaders.

“We have a diverse, multi-disciplined workforce that can cover every facet of medical facility construction. We’re experienced in it,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Chief of Operations Josh Feldmann.

He said the Army Corps is evaluating infrastructure for use as a temporary hospital, including electricity, sewer and HVAC capabilities.

“What were looking for mostly is space and usable space, usable for a medical facility,” Feldmann said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said Monday that the state wants to double healthcare capacity, and convention center facilities, such as the I-X Center, may be used to treat mildly ill patients.

Feldmann said state leaders will decide on sites, and the Army Corps will oversee construction by contractors.  It will be up to the state to supply and staff facilities. Construction may be completed within weeks, according to Feldmann.

“Speed is of the essence here. We’re trying to get out in front of the curve, in front of the peak, so these facilities are in place for whatever the state decides they wants to use them for,” Feldmann said.

The Ohio National Guard said it is assisting in the search for facilities.

“The Ohio National Guard is assisting the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Emergency Management Agency to identify potential sites for alternate medical facilities, and you may see Guard personnel visiting some of those sites,” Ohio National Guard Public Information Officer Stephanie Beougher said in a statement provided to FOX 8.

“The National Guard is supporting the governor and the state of Ohio in a proactive and united whole of government approach to expanding its medical capacity in anticipation of the projected COVID-19 outbreak peak.”

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Health said no decision has been made on alternate sites, and all options are still on the table.

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