Coronavirus

McCormick Place alternate coronavirus care facility to be deconstructed

In this Monday, March 30, 2020, photo provided by the Illinois Air National Guard are members of the Guard assembling medical equipment at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Chicago. Approximately 30 members of the Guard were activated to support the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to temporarily convert part of the convention center into an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) for virus patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care in the Chicago area. (Senior Airman Jay Grabiec/U.S. Air Force via AP )
In this Monday, March 30, 2020, photo provided by the Illinois Air National Guard are members of the Guard assembling medical equipment at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Chicago. Approximately 30 members of the Guard were activated to support the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to temporarily convert part of the convention center into an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) for virus patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care in the Chicago area. (Senior Airman Jay Grabiec/U.S. Air Force via AP )

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The alternate care facility at McCormick Place in Chicago will stop operating, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a joint statement Friday.

The statement dropped a short while after the governor finished his daily news briefing Friday, so he did not answer questions about the facility.

In March, fears of overflowing hospitals prompted a rapid effort to build what was planned to be a 3,000-bed facility at the Chicago conference center. Earlier this week, plans were scaled back to just 1,000 beds. Now, the facility will close after going largely unused.

According to a WGN report, the facility had only nine patients as of Wednesday and had cared for only 29 total.

When he announced plans for the facility, Pritzker was clear that if it was never used, that would be a best-case scenario. It was intended as overflow for already existing hospitals.

It was built “out of an abundance of caution,” Friday’s joint statement read.

“Today, we are pleased to report that the curve is flattening, and our local hospitals and healthcare systems continue to operate with capacity,” the statement read.

All patients at McCormick Place will receive care for the duration of their illnesses, but "plans for deconstruction are currently underway.” The negative pressure tents at the facility will remain assembled, should they be needed. The state will continue to monitor hospital capacity closely when elective surgeries resume in the region.

It’s unclear what McCormick Place closing could mean for other alternate care facilities throughout the state, including Advocate Sherman in Elgin and Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, among others.

“While this marks a critical moment and a large step forward in our collective fight against COVID-19, we must stay the course until data shows further progress in a reduction of new cases and as widespread testing comes online,” read the statement from Pritzker and Lightfoot.

As of late Thursday, the state had 10,988 open hospital beds available, including 904 available ICU beds and 2,404 available ventilators. Overall, 4,900 COVID-19 patients are being treated in Illinois hospitals.

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