Richmond’s Craneway becoming COVID-19 medical station

City Council green-lights app for walking tour of Richmond’s historic sites
Ford Point-Craneway Pavilion at 1414 Harbour Way S.

By Kathy Chouteau

The Richmond home front will once again mobilize in a “wartime” effort, this time in the nation’s fight against coronavirus (COVID-19).

Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion, located on Harbour Way along the city’s shoreline, is being converted by Contra Costa County, federal and state authorities into a 250-bed medical station for COVID-19 patients, per a statement from Contra Costa Health Services.

The Craneway medical station would be used as a backup to local hospitals in the event they’re unable to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases. While the Federal Government will provide the location’s equipment and supplies, medical staffing will be facilitated by the County. The federal medical station will be secured and closed to visitors.

The National Guard is hauling in beds and medical supplies to the expansive event center this week as it’s transformed into a temporary medical facility that will start receiving patients by the third week of April—when Bay Area COVID-19 cases are expected to peak.

“Dedicated County physicians, nurses and other professional staff will provide vital medical care in this historic building to help prevent our local hospitals from becoming overburdened by an expected surge in patients,” said County Supervisor John Gioia. 

Aside from the Craneway, the County is working to establish other alternate care sites, such as utilizing hotels for homeless people.

In unison with other Bay Area counties, Contra Costa County recently extended its stay-at-home order through May 3 with the aim of helping to reduce COVID-19’s impact on local hospitals through social distancing practices.

The Craneway Pavilion once served as an integral part of the United States’ World War II home front effort. From 1928 to 1956, it operated as a Ford Auto Plant and pivoted to assembling jeeps, tanks and military vehicles during the war.

“The Craneway played an essential part in winning World War II. Today it is being repurposed to fight another global war. This facility will help not only our local communities but contribute to the overall effort to contain COVID-19,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.