Washington’s field hospital to be dismantled before treating any coronavirus patients

The massive army field hospital that hundreds of troops built inside a Seattle convention center last week will be dismantled before treating a single patient.

Instead, it will be redeployed to a state facing a more difficult battle against the coronavirus outbreak, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday.

Nearly 300 soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) near Tacoma, Wash., built the makeshift facility inside CenturyLink Field Event Center, normally home to the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders of the MLS, for patients who do not have COVID-19.

“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,” Inslee said in a press release.

The facility housed 250 beds, a lab, X-ray machines, surgery facilities and an intensive care unit.

But Washington’s early action to limit the spread of COVID-19 has helped the state to slow the disease’s infection rate and allowed hospitals to maintain the capacity to support a surge in patients, Inslee said.

“These soldiers uprooted their lives to help Washingtonians when we needed them most,” Inslee said. “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.”

He stressed this decision doesn’t mean “we are out of the woods” and pushed citizens to continue following quarantine and social distancing measures.

“We have to keep our guard up and continue to stay home unless conducting essential activities to keep everyone healthy,” Inslee said. “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.”

The decision comes just days after Washington returned 400 ventilators it received from the federal government so they can be used in New York and other hard-hit states.

Despite these returns, Inslee assured Washingtonians the state was continuing to take steps to bolster its medical resources in the event of a surge in cases, purchasing 1,000 hospital beds and more than 900 ventilators.

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