Seattle is giving its army field hospital back to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so that it can be sent to a harder-hit state, as Washington’s curve of new infections starts to flatten.
Washington state Governor Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that the emergency field hospital set up by the Army Corps of Engineers will be disassembled and redeployed to a state more in need of the site.
Inslee said during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon that the facility is no longer needed as hospitals seem to have brought the outbreak under control and social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus in Washington.
Military personnel set up the field hospital at CenturyLink Event Center on March 31. Seattle is now giving its army field hospital back to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so that it can be sent to a harder-hit state
‘Our community mitigation measures, combined with the amazing work of our hospitals and health care providers throughout the region, as well as our procurement of various hospital supplies, lends us to believe that at this point, our hospitals should have enough capacity to support a surge in patients,’ Inslee said.
‘With that said, I’m incredibly appreciative of the men and women from the 627th Hospital Center out of Fort Carson in Colorado. These soldiers uprooted their lives to help Washingtonians when we needed them most.
‘Since then, it’s become apparent that other states need them more than we do. It’s only right that we release this capability so those states have the tools necessary to help end this nation-wide fight that we are all battling together.’
Washington state Governor Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that the emergency field hospital set up by the Army Corps of Engineers is not needed by the state and will be disassembled and redeployed somewhere more in need of the site
Inslee emphasized that this does not mean the state is ‘out of the woods’ and encouraged Washingtonians to continue to follow social distancing guidelines.
‘Don’t let this decision give you the impression that we are out of the woods. We have to keep our guard up and continue to stay home unless conducting essential activities to keep everyone healthy,’ Inslee said.
Inslee said the state had originally called on the federal government to provide more hospital beds before social distancing measures had helped slow the spread.
‘We requested this resource before our physical distancing strategies were fully implemented and we had considerable concerns that our hospitals would be overloaded with COVID-19 cases. But we haven’t beat this virus yet,’ he said.
The CenturyLink Field Event Center was converted into a makeshift 250-bed hospital to treat non-COVID-19 patients, in preparation for a nightmare scenario where the state’s hospitals became overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
Soldiers converted the CenturyLink Field Event Center into a makeshift 250-bed hospital to treat non-COVID-19 patients, in preparation for a nightmare scenario where the state’s hospitals became overwhelmed with coronavirus patients
How the center usually looks. The emergency hospital has not seen a single patient
Nearly 300 soldiers spent several days building the emergency facility in the exhibition space, which was completed just days ago.
It will now be dismantled before it has even seen a single patient and returned to FEMA to send to another state harder-hit by the pandemic.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Wednesday that the city’s hospitals had a strong supply of resources and beds so it is the ‘right decision’ to allow other states to access the facility in their hours of need.
‘Understanding that our hospitals in our region have capacity, including ICU beds and ventilators, we are making the right decision to allow other cities to have these resources and capacity,’ she said.
‘While Seattle fought hard for these resources, it’s clear other communities are in desperate need of this high-quality medical facility and personnel.’
A cleaning crew exits the Life Care Center on March 11 in Kirkland, Washington. The state became one of the first US hotspots for the virus when an outbreak flooded the nursing home
A medical assistant at a drive-up clinic set up by the University of Washington Medical Center
Washington state has stocked up an additional 1,000 hospital beds and more than 900 ventilators in case of another surge of coronavirus cases.
It will also use the former Astria Regional Medical Center in Yakima as a 250-bed field hospital in Central Washington if needed.
Governor Inslee previously made a similar move with the state’s supply of ventilators when he returned 400 of the 500 ventilators it had received from the federal government, so they could go to states in greater need.
The total number of coronavirus infections in Washington state has reached 8,394 and the death toll stands at 383.
The rate of new deaths seemed to be falling, with 400 recorded on April 6 compared to the state’s record high of 624 on April 4.
Research from the University of Washington has predicted that the death toll in Washington has already peaked.
President Trump has praised Washington’s response to the pandemic, after the state became one of the first hotspots for the virus when an outbreak flooded the Life Care Center nursing home back in early March.
‘If you look at Washington state, if you remember that all started in a very confined nursing home,’ said Trump at the end of March.
‘And you had 20-odd people dying in that one home but it didn’t mean it escaped that home, which means they have a very different statistic to other states.’
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, has also praised its response.
‘California and Washington state reacted very early to all this. Washington state had some of the earliest infections. They have kept it low and steady,’ said Birx.