CHICAGO — McCormick Place has been transformed into a field hospital — and it took just five days.
The famous convention center already has about 500 hospital beds, which will be used for non-acute coronavirus patients, and 14 nursing stations. Construction will be complete Friday for the “field medical station.”
The quick buildout at the center’s north and south buildings was made possible because carpenters and others have worked furiously on transforming the building into a hospital, Gov. JB Pritzker said. Besides hospital beds, the facility will have food service and a pharmacy for patients, and it has rooms for medical supplies and housekeeping.
“When I walked into this building and saw how it was transformed in just five days, I was truly flooded with an overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism,” Pritzker said during a Friday press conference at the site.
The facility is bigger than the largest hospital in Illinois, Pritzker said.
And the facility will grow: McCormick Place will have 3,000 hospital hospital beds by the end of the month, adding badly needed hospital capacity to the Chicago area as COVID-19 cases across the state surge.
But the facility is also a reminder of the fast and deadly spread of coronavirus in Illinois, Pritzker said.
So far, there have been 8,904 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois and 210 deaths.
“As incredible as the work that’s been done here is, it’s also profoundly sobering,” Pritzker said. “This is a facility that we stood up because the human population is susceptible to this virus at a scale never before seen in our lifetimes. It very well might be that this [virus] overwhelms our existing hospital capacity in Illinois as it has done in Italy and other countries around the world — and as it’s beginning to do in other parts of our country, too.”
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