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Corps inspects facilities across Minnesota and eastern North Dakota for potential community alternate care sites

Published April 1, 2020
A man wearing a mask

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees helped State of Minnesota staff conduct an alternate care facility site inspection in northeast Minnesota, March 31. Corps staff are providing planning and assessments for the possible conversion of existing buildings into alternate care facilities. They are assisting the state and FEMA’s efforts with initial site assessments as well as in-depth alternate care facility site assessments. This effort is helping to shape future anticipated mission assignments for alternate care facility support to individual states.

ST. PAUL, Minn. –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is performing site inspections across Minnesota and eastern North Dakota to support a nationwide FEMA mission assignment to convert existing large spaces into community alternate care sites to augment COVID-19 response efforts.

St. Paul District is working closely with our state partners on this initial planning effort. Our partners are in charge of site selection and prioritization of potential facilities that include hospitals, schools, correctional facilities and convention centers.

During the site inspections, task members are assessing the facilities for: structural soundness, square footage, potential bed capacity, potential isolation space, electrical and communication capabilities, availability of back-up generators, adequate plumbing and HVAC systems, the feasibility of creating a negative-pressure environment to contain germs, safety codes, ADA compliance and more.

St. Paul District will arm its state partners with facility capability information, so they can determine how to best proceed with each space and its potential alternate care level and use. Not all sites inspected will be used.

The states of Minnesota and North Dakota would work to lease the selected properties (if not already owned by them) and work with partnering agencies to staff and supply the facilities.

In order to execute the mission, if funding is received for design/construction, St. Paul District would use a standard simplified design and contract developed by medical and construction experts from the Corps and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to get the jobs done expeditiously and save lives. The states could also use these documents to execute at the state or local levels.

To date, the Corps has received 12 FEMA mission assignments totaling approximately $1.1 billion. The Corps has more than 15,000 personnel engaged in its response effort, providing support both on-site and virtually.