Video shows former Memphis newspaper office’s transformation into COVID care site

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Video shows work on old Commercial Appeal building

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Major changes are taking place to turn a downtown Memphis landmark into a COVID-19 hospital.

WREG’s Alex Coleman took a tour of the old Commercial Appeal building — a building Memphis health care workers hope they’ll never have to use.

“It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Richard Walker, the chairman of emergency medicine at UT Health Science Center, who will be the CEO of the alternate care facility.

Time-lapse video below shows the 4th floor of the former Commercial Appeal building being turned into a hospital facility.

In what would normally take months or perhaps even years to do, the former site of The Commercial Appeal building on Union Avenue is being transformed in an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients in just a matter of weeks.

“They have essentially committed to doing a year’s or more worth of work in 28 days, and they appear to be doing that and getting two week’s worth done every day,” Walker said.

Video from the Army Corps of Engineers shows the dramatic changes taking place inside the building. Almost 500 workers are turning the old newspaper building into a site to house more than 400 patients, if needed.

“They’ve massively transformed it, in the time we’ve been working from a hollowed-out shell and newspaper manufacturing plant, to a facility we’ll be proud to have in Memphis and the Memphis area,” Walker said.

Some of the work includes the remodeling of walls, ceilings and work on plumbing systems to make way for patient care areas, shower facilities, portable toilets, medical and administrative offices.

The Corps said Tuesday that the project was 38% complete.

Last weekend Gov. Bill Lee toured the site and says he’s encouraged by what this facility can provide Memphis, if area hospitals are packed or if COVID-19 surges in the near future.

The old newspaper building is one of a dozen buildings around the United States to be converted.

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