Normally around this time of the year the O'Neil Center on the Westside Campus of Western Connecticut State University would be filled with people enjoying a Home Show, a concert or an NCAA Division III Basketball tournament game.

But these are extraordinary times and they require extraordinary measures. With the projection that April will be a tough month and more and more COVID-19 cases being reported, the city of Danbury will be turning the 80,000-square-foot O’Neill Center into a 300 bed makeshift hospital.

According to, the Connecticut National Guard will be retrofitting the space with not only the beds, but with respirator equipment and everything else necessary to treat the overflow of COVID-19 patients from Danbury Hospital.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton explained what is going to happen starting on Thursday:

We will be building out the O’Neill Center in the next week as we expect a surge to take place beginning in the third week of April. We want to be ready, because Danbury has the state’s second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, behind Norwalk. If we need those beds, we want to be sure they are there.

The transformation of the gym is part of a statewide response to the coronavirus health crisis.

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