With concerts and hockey games on hold for the immediate future, city officials in Worcester are considering the DCU Center as a potential facility to house overflow patients amid the coronavirus crisis.
The arena is just one location that officials are eyeing as they prepare for an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases. As of Sunday, Worcester County had 37 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 13 cases in the city itself.
"It's a fairly large building with lots of breakout rooms and space that it's almost kind of a field hospital style could be organized," said Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus.
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Normally busy with sporting events and shows, the center is seen as a potential facility in the battle to fight COVID-19 due to its size and numerous breakout rooms.
City leaders and the CEOs from UMass Memorial Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospital toured the DCU Center Monday to see if would meet their needs. Augustus said if staff and management from the hospitals approve, the city would provide the facility to them and help coordinate logistics.
“This is an abundance of caution. Right now there is plenty of capacity at the hospitals," said Augustus. "They have taken down all of their elective surgeries...so there’s plenty of capacity in the hospital for folks, but this is trying to be ahead of the curve.
"Should it be necessary, we want to have everything predeployed, planned and organized to make sure that we meet the needs of anybody here in central Massachusetts who needs the hospitals and needs the support facilities.”
City leaders say the DCU could also be a place for the city’s homeless to be housed if they test positive or are under quarantine and awaiting results.