WASHINGTON -- As of yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers was performing 50 Federal Emergency Management Agency-led COVID-19-related missions — totaling $1.8 billion — with 15,000 people engaged, according to an updated Defense Department fact sheet released today.The Corps of Engineers has assessed 1,129 sites for possible use as alternate care facilities and has awarded 32 construction contracts to add 14,544 beds to states with critical bed shortages. Twenty of those are now complete, according to the fact sheet.In the Alaska District, engineers recently transformed the auxiliary gym of the Alaska Airlines Center arena into a temporary care facility that can accommodate 51 patients. The design includes a pipe and drape configuration for each patient pod, nursing stations, and a system to maintain a negative air pressure environment. In all, the project cost $1.26 million and was completed in one week, according to an Army Corps of Engineers statement yesterday.The Corps of Engineers has a long and illustrious history of aiding civilians as well as warriors.Although there were American military engineers during the Revolutionary War, the official start of the Army Corps of Engineers was March 16, 1802. That's when President Thomas Jefferson authorized its establishment in the Military Peace Establishment Act.By the 1820s, engineers helped open the interior of the United States by surveying roads and canals. They also built bridges and railroads in the decades that followed.After the devastating Mississippi River flood of 1927, the mission expanded to include flood control projects such as dams and levees.The Corps of Engineers also built the Washington Monument, which opened in 1884, and they supervised construction of the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914.Beginning in 1941, the mission of the Army Corps of Engineers further expanded to include building structures to support the war effort. They erected large numbers of hospitals, barracks and workplaces on installations around the nation. They also erected factories for making tanks, aircraft and ammunition.Two of their notable achievements during the war was the construction of the Pentagon and the facilities used for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Pentagon was built in just 16 months.Today, the Army Corps of Engineers has about 37,000 soldiers and civilians working around the United States and in 130 other nations.Their work also includes dredging waterways to support the movement of barges; helping restore wetlands in the Everglades, the Louisiana coast and elsewhere; maintaining recreation areas; and cleaning contaminated sites.Related linksArmy.mil: Worldwide NewsU.S. Army COVID-19 GuidanceU.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters WebsiteDefense.govCorps of Engineers rapidly assessing, building hospital spacesCorps of Engineers transforms convention center into treatment facility