March 29, 2020: Projections show the largest danger from COVID-19 is running out of hospital space. In an exponential explosion, many more people are going to die by being turned away from hospitals and being left untreated, than will die just from the disease itself if they had been treated properly.
If the spread continues at current predicted rates, it will very soon become critical to set up emergency hospital cots to handle the overflow. But it will be hard to locate venues for this.
The ideal characteristics for a temporary emergency hospital location are:
Although sports stadiums and indoor football fields fulfill most of these requirements, they are not ubiquitous.
The one group of venues that fulfills this is vacant big-box mall stores, and in particular vacant Sears stores. Sears stores are found all across the nation, so only one arrangement has to be put into place--it is not necessary to have to negotiate thousands of agreements separately in just a few weeks. Big box stores are temperature-controlled and safe against the rain and the elements--much better than setting up MASH tent cities in a park. The floor space is one of the few types of locales that are guaranteed to be able to handle thousands of patients in one place. Professional ventilation systems are already in place, again able to support thousands of people. And because of the recent restructurings and closings, most Sears stores are already empty, with no new leaseholders in sight-- so the space should be very economical to procure. Repurposing these resources for the highest and best use will serve everybody.
Land's End may be able to provide cots and supplies at scale as well.
Other stores like Macy's can be useful too, but they do not have such a large footprint, not being found in every small town in the nation.
SCRIER is not being compensated for this proposal, and has no interest in Sears or other big-box stores. Optimization of the economy requires good re-use of existing resources.