Preparing for a surge in COVID-19 patients, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday that a portion of the McCormick Place Convention Center will be temporarily converted into an alternate care facility for those with mild symptoms of the virus who don’t require intensive care.
“The use of McCormick Place signals a new phase in our citywide response to the COVID-19 crisis as we expect a peak in cases in the coming weeks,” Lightfoot said Monday afternoon as the number of confirmed cases in Chicago rose to 2,198. Statewide, the number of cases increased to 5,057, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, with 73 dead.
The McCormick Place facility will have the capacity to care for up to 3,000 patients. The Illinois National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers are on pace to have the first phase of the facility completed by the end the week, which will include 500 beds, Pritzker said. The facility and all 3,000 beds should be available by the end of the month, according to the governor.
“I want to be clear that McCormick Place is dedicated to supporting our existing hospital system, not replacing the existing hospital system. Today in Chicago, there are a lot of hospitals that have COVID-19 patients, but there are also hospitals that are underutilized in our COVID response,” Pritzker said Monday afternoon. “The first place we are directing our patients is to existing hospital beds, maximizing our underutilized hospitals first. If we never have to go beyond our existing facilities, we will all be extremely happy.”
While McCormick Place is intended to treat patients who would benefit from medical care but not need intensive care, plans for the center could change as the pandemic evolves, Pritzker said. McCormick Place will transition back to its original use when additional medical care facilities are no longer needed, according to Pritzker’s office.
Additionally, the state and city are working to create temporary bed capacity at MetroSouth Hospital in Blue Island and Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin.
Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources
Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including:
—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick
Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue
If you think you have COVID-19:
Call you doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.
—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
—Illinois’ COVID-19 website
—Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IPDH COVID-19 email link
—City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link