Amid the growing coronavirus outbreak, a Massachusetts hospital has erected an outdoor medical tent that will serve as the location for any upcoming testing for the virus.
Norwood Hospital set up the tent outside of the hospital's emergency room for "potential future testing" of COVID-19 cases.
Hospital officials said that, right now, tests are only being administered to people who have been told they need one by local public health officials. And they urged people not to worry when they see it.
"We don't want people to be concerned when they see the medical tent. This is a standard practice and hospitals and medical facilities throughout the world are using similar tents for coronavirus testing," said Salvatore Perla, president of Norwood Hospital, in a statement. "The medical tents are simply meant to limit any potential exposure between individuals suspected of having the coronavirus and patients in other areas of the hospital."
Despite the new precautions health officials are taking some people say they think things are being blown out of proportion.
"I think it's blown out of proportion. Especially considering the flu killed about 160,000 this year alone," said one man.
Others say the tents may not be a bad idea.
"I guess it's necessary. In Italy, the hospital staff is overworked and they are running out of room so if it could come to that state then maybe it's good to have some precautions," said another man.
The hospital is in close contact with the Norwood Health Department and other statewide health officials as developments with the coronavirus come daily.
"We have been in coordination with them throughout this process and our lines of communication will remain open," said Sigalle Reiss, director of the Norwood Health Department.
The Massachusetts Department of Health is encouraging other hospitals to have an alternate space to accommodate what could be a surge in patients requiring COVID-19 testing. In addition to Norwood Hospital, South Shore Hospital has also set up a medical tent.
There were over 90 confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts as of Tuesday, and over 1,000 cases nationwide. Officials are preparing for the outbreak to get more intense, as has happened in other countries dealing with what the World Health Organization on Wednesday deemed a pandemic.
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