Drivers line up at the North-South Building of the Orange County Convention Center to be tested for COVID-19. Many centers, hotels, and other events venues are doing their part to help others during the pandemic. (Courtesy OCCC)
When the Army Corps of Engineers knocked, Javits Center President and CEO Alan Steel was ready. “Basically, when I first met with the Army Corps of Engineers, I said to them, ‘We do this every day. We’re in the event business. At Javits, we do 175 events every year, so you’re just really another event for us,’” Steel recently told Convene. The can-do attitude was routine. The event wasn’t: The Army was going to transform the convention center into a temporary hospital to help care for the ill during the COVID-19 outbreak.
All that was necessary, Steel said, was for the Army to tell him what it needed. Today, the 1,000-bed Jacob K. Javits Convention Center field hospital is open and serving lower-severity COVID-19 cases, according to media reports.
With traditional events paused during the crisis, convention centers and other event venues from New York to Vancouver to Berlin are providing relief — or standing by to provide relief — for overburdened hospitals. Others are sheltering the homeless. And it’s not just conventions centers. Hotels are offering shelter to health-care and other front-line workers.
Here are some of the ways the industry is stepping up to help in the fight and care for those caring for the rest of us:
- Raleigh Convention & Performing Arts Complex, along with the Raleigh-based Centerplate team, donated 1,000 meals in mid-May to local first responders and hospitals. Five-hundred of those meals were available for first responders to retrieve via curbside pickup, while 100 meals went to WakeMed Health & Hospitals and 400 meals went to South Wilmington Street Center, a facility providing emergency housing to those experiencing homelessness.
- Parking locations at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando are being used for temporary drive-through COVID-19 testing. More than 3,780 tests have been administered at the site since it opened March 25, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said at a news conference on April 8, according to local media.
- Marriott will provide $10 million worth of hotel stays for health-care professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight in the United States through its Rooms for Responders initiatives. Free rooms are to be available in such heavily impacted areas as New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J., Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson said in an April 10 email.
- Vancouver Convention Centre, in cooperation with Vancouver Coastal Health and other partners, is preparing its West building to be used as an alternative care site, if needed.
- Detroit’s TCF Center was transformed in nine days to TCF Regional Care Center and patients began arriving on April 10, according to WDIV. (Watch the video below.)