With more than 500 Mecklenburg County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, the CEOs of Charlotte’s two largest hospital systems are asking the county to build a “Mass Care field hospital” in anticipation of a surge of the virus, according to a news release.

In a joint letter on April 2 to Mecklenberg County Manager Dena Diorio, Atrium CEO Eugene Woods and Novant CEO Carl Armato said there is a potential need for as many as 3,000 additional hospital beds.

“We have been working with Emergency Management at the state and local levels to prepare for this potential since the incident began weeks ago,” Diorio said in a news release. “And as we have done from the beginning, we are planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”

The CEOs proposed building the field hospital on the campus of UNC Charlotte. Earlier today, the school notified students living in six dorms to remove their belongings “to ensure the community has the resources to support Emergency Management, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard,” according to a Mecklenburg County press release.

By the numbers: April 2

  • Mecklenburg County cases: 533, 3 deaths as of 4:30 p.m. today
  • NC cases: 1,857 cases, 16 deaths as of 2:00 p.m. today
  • Find updated info at the NCDHSS site.

More news:

In a policy reversal, the Washington Post is reporting the White House will urge Americans to begin wearing cloth masks or face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. New research shows that coronavirus may be spread by talking, or even just breathing. Read more.

Also, late Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced that Social Security beneficiaries who typically do not file a tax return will automatically get the $1,200 payment deposited into their accounts. Read more.