(BIVN) – Officials are looking for a building on the Big Island that can be converted into an alternate care facility, as the number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Hawaiʻi continues to climb.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently joined local officials for visits to Hilo and Kona, and later shared this media release:
In response to the spread of coronavirus in Hawaii, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Honolulu District technical survey team conducted five initial planning and site assessments of facilities on the island of Hawaii April 1 for potential conversion into alternate care facilities (ACFs).
The team evaluated locations chosen by the state in Hilo and Kailua-Kona.
“Our District and engineering assessment team is fully engaged in providing engineering solutions as fast as possible for our state and federal partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lt. Col. Kathryn Sanborn, Honolulu District commander. “This analysis provides essential information to the state so they can make informed decisions about next steps for the health and wellness of the community.”
“During site evaluations we are evaluating structural soundness, square footage, potential bed capacity and isolation space, electrical, plumbing, HVAC systems, as well as the feasibility of creating a negative-pressure environment,” said Jeff Herzog, assessment team leader. “The data collected provides the state with information on facility capabilities.”
Following the April 1 presidential declaration that a major disaster exists in the state of Hawaii, Federal funding is now available to the state, should leaders decide to move forward with USACE-related emergency support measures.
“Currently, we are doing technical planning and site assessments in partnership with FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the state and counties,” Sanborn said. “We remain an option for additional support, including construction and other technical assistance, through FEMA mission assignment should the state request it.”
USACE is prepared to assist the nation in times of crisis and is working with the White House, Department of Defense, FEMA, and other federal, state and local partners in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The FEMA mission assignments are intended to provide support nationwide to address possible medical facility shortages.
Overall, USACE has received 15 FEMA mission assignments totaling approximately $1.2 billion, and has more than 15,000 personnel engaged in the response effort and providing support.