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Backup coronavirus hospital in Memphis worries residents

April 13, 2020

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Faced with the threat of overburdened hospitals, states across the country are converting convention centers, sports facilities and performance spaces into backup treatment sites for coronavirus patients. Tennessee is no exception. What some Memphis residents don’t get is why in their city, a shopping center in the middle of a predominantly black, low-income residential neighborhood has been targeted. City and state officials are concerned that an influx of patients from Memphis, as well as nearby Mississippi, Arkansas and rural West Tennessee, will strain hospitals. Their fears are echoed across the country: Governors, mayors and health experts in numerous states are also researching and constructing makeshift medical facilities. In New York City, they’re turning to the Javits Center convention site; in Chicago, the McCormick Place Convention Center, and in Sandy, Utah, the Mountain America Expo Center. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been scouting locations in Tennessee, and officials here have compiled a list of 35 possible backup sites. They haven’t released the whole list, but Gov. Bill Lee has disclosed a few: the Music City Center in Nashville, the Chattanooga Convention Center, the Knoxville Expo Center — all sites away from residential neighborhoods.

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