Tennessee Governor Bill Lee visits alternative care facilities for coronavirus patients

WATCH: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee visits alternative care facilities for coronavirus patients

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee made a trip to Memphis to check out two alternative care facilities.

His first visit was to the Christ Community Health Services Center testing site.

The second visit was to the old Commercial Appeal building.

Content Continues Below

It’s being prepared to provide a safety net for local hospitals.

Of course, the hope is that this building never has to be used but if there is an overload, this facility will be able to take in up to 400 patients.

Have questions about the spread of coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.

FOX13 spoke with officials and they said they’re here for the long haul, and if needed this building will be available for at least two years.

“It’s an impressive facility. It will be a great asset for the state,” said Governor Bill Lee.

He was pleased with the work being done inside the old Commercial Appeal building.

Richard Walker, Chairman of Emergency Medicine, said this location is for those who would normally be able to go home but have oxygen requirements and other supportive care needs.

He said there is the capability to provide high-level care if conditions worsen for individuals.

Walker said, “We have a few ICU level and step-down level beds. They would be treated, resuscitated and then transferred back to the hospital where the full scope of American medical care could be provided to them."

This project comes as counties across the state get ready to re-open restaurants and retail stores next week.

Governor Lee said this isn’t a message to stop healthy practices.

He said he’s hoping businesses take heed to The Tennessee Pledge, aiming to provide safe environments.

“They’ve got to continue to do what they have done,” said Governor Lee, “Because when we can do that then we have an opportunity to take measured steps to being to open up sectors of our economy.”

He said encouraging numbers has provided some promise.

“We had about a 5 to 1 conversion rate. So, one person in this state was inoculating five people and now we’re down around one to 1.2 which is the same as flu,” said Walker.

Governor Lee said, “We will always use data to drive decisions with the underlying premise that health and safety is the utmost consideration in those decisions.”

Walker said they’ve been putting in about two weeks of work a day to get this facility finished by mid-May.

He also added he doesn’t expect there to be a need for this building before that it is finished.