The Craneway Pavilion in Richmond used in WWII to be converted into a federal medical station for COVID-19 patients

Contra Costa County officials on Thursday announced they are converting The Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, used in WWII to help win the war, into a 250-bed medical station for COVID-19 patients.

Beds and medical supplies are being brought in by the National Guard this week to begin transforming The Craneway Pavilion, a large event center on the Richmond waterfront, into a temporary medical facility, according to the county. 

The goal is to have the facility ready to receive patients by the third week of April, when health experts predict the Bay Area will see COVID-19 cases begin to peak.

“This is one more step to be better prepared for the anticipated COVID-19 surge,”  said Candace Andersen, chair of the board of supervisors.

The federal medical station will serve as an alternate care site for COVID-19 patients who don’t need ICU-level care, county officials said. This week, work also began on turning the San Mateo County Event Center into an emergency hospital as well. 

And like the San Mateo County center, The Craneway Pavilion would be used only in the event local hospitals lack capacity to handle a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said The Craneway Pavilion, located in the Ford Building, was a Ford Auto Plant from 1928 to 1956 and switched to assembling Jeeps, tanks and military vehicles during World War II.

Butt noted the building played an essential part in winning that war.

And now, Butt said, this historic enter is being repurposed to fight another global war.  

While equipment and supplies are provided by the federal government, the county will be coordinating the medical staffing of the site, said Supervisor John Gioia, who represents the area where this site is located.

Meanwhile, Contra Costa County is also setting up other alternate care sites, including using hotels for homeless residents to care and protect them during the coronavirus pandemic.

Crews begin working on The Craneway Pavilion in Richmond to turn it into a medical station during the coronavirus outbreak. April 2, 2020

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez