Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker visited the field hospital being set up at Worcester's DCU Center on Wednesday and discussed how the facility and others like it across the state will help the fight against the new coronavirus.
Another field hospital is being built at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Baker said, and that Massachusetts' coronavirus command center is investigating where else in the state might need similar measures, based on regional infection numbers.
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Wide-open facilities like the DCU Center, an arena, are the best Additionally, Baker said he anticipated that empty college dormitories and hotels will be used in the state's coronavirus as well, in supporting health care workers as well as potentially for housing coronavirus patients who aren't in need of hospitalization.
Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito spoke as state health officials announced more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases and 33 more deaths.
"It's being set up so quickly, and for what I'm hearing and anticipating, we're going to have patients in here by next week, which is incredible," said Dr. Courtney Temple, a UMass Memorial emergency doctor.
The DCU Center, an arena known for hosting sports and entertainment events, is in the process of being converted into a makeshift hospital with 250 beds to treat coronavirus patients. Worcester health officials are predicting the number of incoming COVID-19 patients will outnumber the beds available to treat them.
The arena's 50,000 square feet will be used to treat patients who are too sick to go home but not ill enough to be in the hospital.
"These are the people on a few liters of oxygen, needing IV fluids, other medications, but not needing a ventilator, not needing advanced pulmonary support," said UMass Memorial Dr. John Broach.
Officials say the peak in hospital patients and beds needed will begin in about a week and a half. The DCU Center will be staffed with UMass Medical School students who are graduating early and eager to work.
Grant Lewandrowski is one of those new doctors. He graduated on Tuesday as part of the state's program to get medical students out on the front lines.
"I'd say the last month, it almost felt like we were kind of sitting on the sidelines, and because of that, I'm glad Gov. Baker and the heads of the medical schools graduated us early and we can get to work," he said.
Around Baker and Polito on the tour, beds were being brought in and privacy screens were being stood up in the 50,000-foot facility.
"A few weeks ago our lives were very different and seemed so very far from where we are today," Polito said.
On Tuesday, Baker extended the state's stay-at-home advisory and his order requiring all non-essential businesses to close through May 4. Both were originally set to expire on April 7.
The 10-person limit on gatherings in the state has been extended as well, following a similar extension by the federal government.
Baker also announced that hotel rooms and home-sharing platforms like Airbnb can no longer be booked for people to go on vacation. Instead, only health care workers and others who were displaced from their homes amid the coronavirus pandemic can book rooms.