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Georgia World Congress Center to welcome 200 hospital beds for coronavirus patients

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Meanwhile, an Atlanta-based designed firm is teaching hotel operators how to convert into makeshift hospitals

A convention center shown from the outside.
Usually teeming with convention-goers, the Georgia World Congress Center has been uncharacteristically quiet lately.
GWCC

One of the nation’s busiest convention centers is poised for a temporary transformation that could help Atlanta combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.

WSB-TV reports that a 200-bed temporary hospital is being built at downtown’s Georgia World Congress Center.

While area hospitals are burdened by the spike in cases of COVID-19, the disease carried by the coronavirus, the makeshift facility would treat patients with mild to moderate symptoms—those who don’t need to be on ventilators.

The move is part of an effort to expand the state’s “surge capacity,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in a statement.

The pop-up hospital is being constructed by the Georgia National Guard, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Department of Community Health, Department of Public Health, and independent contractors.

A huge convention center seen from the inside.
Part of the GWCC’s vast interiors.
Georgia World Congress Center

The decision to outfit part of the GWCC to accommodate the swell of coronavirus cases comes at a time when some governments have been urging hotel operators to transform guest rooms into hospital facilities. (As of last evening, Georgia counts more than 13,600 confirmed cases and 480 deaths.)

Atlanta-based architecture firm tvsdesign recently created guidelines for those hospitality companies considering making the temporary switch to healthcare operations.

Although no metro Atlanta hospitals have yet embraced tvsdesign’s model, the company developed a flowchart that illustrates which (now underutilized) lodging options are best suited for the change.

The chart asks questions like, “Do your rooms have hard flooring?”—better for wiping down surfaces after medical procedures—and “Do rooms or suites have connecting doors?”—linked rooms can be chunked up into zones for family members, patients, and staff.

However, Randy Hassen, president of McKibbon Hospitality hotel management, told Curbed Atlanta in a recent interview that most hotel operators would likely be more inclined to serve as overflow lodging for healthcare professionals who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and can’t immediately return to their families.