With Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris (left) and Mayor Jim Strickland (center with Memphis Strong mask) among those with him, Gov Bill Lee touted the partnership that resulted in turning the old Memphis Publishing Co. building into an emergency hospital site. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Top leaders in Tennessee got a sneak peek Monday at a former Memphis newspaper building that has been transformed into a 401-bed hospital for COVID-19 patients.

Gov. Bill Lee, Shelby County officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers toured The Commercial Appeal building’s transformation, made to assist local hospitals should they exceed their bed capacity because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The alternate care site has been set up with basic supplies, such as beds, chairs, tables and IV poles. More medical equipment will be provided if the site is activated to receive and treat COVID-19 patients. The facility has set aside 33 beds for patients that require a higher level of care, designated 22 nursing stations and built 30 storage rooms.

An inside look of what now is an alternate care site after its transition from the former home of Memphis Publishing Co. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

“Our work in Shelby County represents an effective local, state, and federal partnership effort to put in place a critical need in our COVID-19 efforts,” Lee said of the transformation project.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis will provide medical direction for the care of patients if the facility is occupied.

Tennessee was reporting 301 deaths from the coronavirus Monday and more than 18,000 confirmed cases. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be life-threatening.

(Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.)