Work moves forward on COVID-19 alternate care site in Porterville

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says their work to turn six unoccupied buildings at the Porterville Developmental Center into a COVID-19 alternate care site is 75% finished.

The corps, and the construction company they contracted, started the project about a week ago.

"This falls right in our wheelhouse with the response, so we're just honored to be part of the team and help support our fellow citizens," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel James Handura said.

Col. Handura says the corps has done 27 site assessments, which help state officials decide if the facility can be used as an alternate care site.

So far, the corps has been tasked with just one alternate care construction project: Porterville.

The governor's office has said alternate care sites like Porterville, which will provide more than 240 beds, will care for COVID patients who are less sick, allowing hospitals to treat more severe cases.

"We're doing some painting, we're doing some ventilation, air conditioner repairs," Col. Handura said. "We're also doing some plumbing repairs, some electrical upgrades as needed. We're doing a nice thorough cleanup job to provide a useable facility."

By early next week, the corps hopes to hand the keys back over to the state, who will then handle staffing and equipment needs before starting to take patients.

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