Western Minnesota counties explore converting former prison to care center for coronavirus patients

BENSON, Minn. (AP) – Three western Minnesota counties are exploring converting part of a former prison into a center to care for people who have the coronavirus.

Swift, Chippewa and Lac qui Parle counties have asked the owner of the Appleton prison that shuttered in 2010 about using a pod at the prison exclusively for coronavirus patients.

Boards in the three counties are expected to take votes on the idea this week.

Appleton Area Health Services CEO Lori Andreas said the plan would start with 11 rooms and expand to 77 beds if needed. Tennessee-based CoreCivic says it will provide the facility at no cost.