Army Corps of Engineers to convert Detroit’s TCF Center to alternate care facility in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

From U.S. Army Corp of Engineers news release March 29, 2020

DETROIT — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (USACE), Detroit District, announces it has received a verbal mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to construct a large alternate care facility in downtown Detroit. USACE continues to make significant progress across the nation in its efforts to support the FEMA-led response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.  

The first conversion in Michigan will take place at the TCF Center in Detroit, Michigan. USACE is well underway in its coordination and planning efforts to adapt more than 250,000 square feet of the convention facility into medical care space. The TCF center is well-known to Michiganders as the former Cobo Hall facility.

 “We are proud to work hand in hand with our partners at FEMA and the state of Michigan and leverage our engineering expertise to help save lives,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Turner, district engineer, USACE, Detroit District.

The conversion will include two separate floors, which will be segregated based on severity of illness. When completed, the conversion will include approximately 900 bed spaces and stations for medical personnel.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in her announcement of the effort, “We are proud to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and the TCF Center to expand capacity in Detroit. By mobilizing quickly to construct a large alternate care facility in Detroit, we can help save lives.”

USACE, Detroit District, anticipates it will take 24 to 36 hours to place a contract, at which point the TCF Center team will activate their personnel to start construction activities. Actual construction is expected to begin shortly thereafter.

Overall, USACE has received seven FEMA Mission Assignments (MAs) totaling approximately $880 million, and USACE has more than 15,000 personnel engaged, with more than 950 personnel deployed across the nation. Two of the FEMA MAs are for national activation and provide initial planning and engineering support nationwide to address possible medical facility shortages in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. USACE Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) have been activated at 43 locations across their divisions and districts.

Site visits across Michigan to assess and determine the necessary steps to convert existing buildings into alternate care facilities will continue as the state directs. USACE, Detroit District has performed 15 site visits to date across the state.

Through the unified national emergencies response, USACE deploys hundreds of people to provide technical engineering expertise and promote capacity development at home and abroad. The Corps provides management and technical services to include: management and oversight in design, engineering and construction; environmental restoration and management services; research and development assistance.

USACE continues to coordinate at every level with both federal and non-federal stakeholders, including FEMA, Health and Human Services, State of Michigan, Michigan National Guard and many others.