WATCH: Gov. Lee in Memphis to tour newly completed COVID care facility



MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee returned to the Bluff City Monday to see the city and county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Lee — along with leaders from Memphis, Shelby County and the state general assembly — visited a COVID-19 alternate care facility at the former Commercial Appeal building on Union Avenue.

The hospital, with up to 400 beds for overflow COVID-19 treatment, was built in the renovated newspaper offices in a matter of weeks by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, a project that a representative with the Corps described as building an airplane while in flight.

“The amount of work done here in the last 30 days is incredible,” said Lee, noting that the facility would continue to be an asset to the community after the COVID crisis.

The facility has an 18-month lease in the building, Lee said.

According to an analysis by NPR, the hospital construction cost $26 million, making it one of the larger contracts among dozens of similar projects around the country. Lee said the cost was shared by the federal government and the state.

So far, the hospital overflow resources have not been needed, and local hospitals have been able to maintain adequate capacity.

“We hope that we never have to use this building for COVID-19 overflow, but we know that this building could also be used for other things,” he said.

The Corps has built 37 COVID-19 overflow hospitals around the country. The location in Memphis was chosen for its proximity to hospitals in the Medical District.

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