An emergency shelter for the homeless and for people who may have the coronavirus is opening in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The facility, located at the War Memorial Recreation Center, partially opened Tuesday. The first service area to open was a converted garage where people can quarantine away from their loved ones while awaiting coronavirus test results.
Later in the week, the center's field house will open to residents without symptoms or exposure to someone with the virus but who need a place to stay.
“The more we can do to keep all residents safely distanced and quarantined, regardless of where they call home, the greater chance we have to prevent increased illness due to this epidemic," Cambridge Public Health Commissioner Assaad Sayah said.
There are currently 256 confirmed cases among Cambridge residents, according to the latest data on the city's website, and one death.
"The War Memorial is an ideal location to insulate our most vulnerable residents who are in need due to the ongoing public health crisis," Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui said, "while providing them with ample space and various resources, including medical support, food, showers, bathrooms, changing space and other activities."
Homeless residents who test positive will be treated at the Freepoint Hotel Cambridge by Hilton under a contract with the state. The War Memorial gymnasium is being reserved for additional isolation capacity if needed.
The shelter will be staffed around the clock by clinical staff of Cambridge Health Alliance, which city officials said is ideal due to its proximity to Cambridge Hospital. On-site security for residents and staff will be provided by private security and the Cambridge Police.