Seattle Seahawks field to host military hospital amid virus

SEATTLE (AP) — A military field hospital for people with medical issues that are not related to the coronavirus outbreak is under construction at CenturyLink Field Event Center, which is home to the Seattle Seahawks football team.

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Three hundred soldiers from the 627th Army Hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado, have deployed to Seattle to staff the hospital, which is expected to create at least 150 hospital beds for non-COVID-19 cases. The facility, described as a life-saving Army medical hospital, will be ready to start seeing patients in just a few days, officials said.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine, along with FEMA Region 10 Administrator Mike O’Hare and Brigadier General Doug Cherry and others discussed the plans Saturday afternoon at a news conference.

“We know that this Army field hospital will be critical and will reduce the burden on hospitals here," Durkan said. ”The military is here to help, not take over. They are here to help because they know Seattle needs it."

O’Hare thanked those in the private sector, including CenturyLink and others who have reached out to share resources. FEMA has designated $100 million to the military to boost medical services in Washington in response to the outbreak.

Inslee called the hospital a “tremendous step by the federal government,” and said he was appreciative while also adding that this will not be enough and that more federal help is needed as coronavirus cases rise throughout the state.

“Please stay home and keep your distance because we are at the start of a marathon. This is not a sprint,” Durkan said.

Also on Saturday, Inslee released a letter to tribes that confirms his emergency proclamations do not pertain to their sovereign nations and additionally issued refined guidelines for funerals and real estate transactions.

Funeral homes had largely stopped holding services but Inslee said Saturday that licensed funeral homes and cemeteries may conduct funeral services in a funeral home or graveside as long as they are only attended by immediate family members and maintain social distancing measures.

Real estate transactions and mortgage lending, which were deemed essential activities under the governor's statewide stay-at-home order, can continue with in-person meetings only as necessary for a customer to view a property or to sign documents, Inslee said.

No real estate open houses are allowed. Property viewings, inspections, appraisals, and final walk-throughs are limited to no more than two people on site at any one time with proper social distancing measures in place, he said.

The Washington state Department of Health reported 600 newly confirmed coronavirus cases statewide on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to over 4,300, including 189 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in several weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.