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Governor extends ban on 'non-essential' businesses, says state to build three field hospitals, orders hotels to rent rooms only to 'essential' workers

COVID-19 Update: March 31, 2020

It's tough, but it needs to be done, Gov. Baker said of extending the non-essential ban to May 4 in his daily press briefing today.

Baker said that starting tomorrow, the state will begin construction of a 250-bed field hospital inside the DCU Center in Worcester, for patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, but who no longer need more intense care. UMass Medical Center will run the temporary hospital, he said, adding the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is looking for sites for two more such hospitals.

Baker said that effective immediately, hotels and short-term-rental units can remain open only for health-care workers and people who work at other "essential" businesses, the list of which has been expanded to include optometrists and chiropractors.

Baker said 13 veterans are now dead at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. "This episode is a gut-wrenching loss that is nothing less than devastating for all of us," he said. The state has rushed medical workers, the National Guard and equipment there there to stabilize and support patients and families, he said, adding that once that is done, "we will get to the bottom of what happened."

All residents and staff will be tested for Covid-19, by a new mobile testing unit, run by the National Guard and the state Department of Public Health, aimed at nursing homes. After the unit is finished in Holyoke, it will travel the state, offering testing at nursing homes so residents no longer have to go to a hospital.

Baker emphasized that people need to stay home to help flatten the curve, now more than ever, as we enter "perhaps the most difficult period associated with this virus" over the next couple of weeks.

"Don't play basketball just because you can," he said. "Don't sit on the beach with your friends all day."

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Comments

Remember, Douglas Adams made us laugh at phone sanitizers ...

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How about the Garden and the Big E?

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March 19th is when he activated the guard.

It's now the 31st, and they haven't even STARTED building hospitals?

Were they waiting for an engraved invitation?

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Baker said that starting tomorrow, the state will begin construction of a 250-bed field hospital inside the DCU Center in Worcester, for patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, but who no longer need more intense care. UMass Medical Center will run the temporary hospital, he said, adding the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is looking for sites for two more such hospitals.

  • TD Garden - Boston
  • MassMutual Center - Springfield
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Could they use all the empty dorm rooms?
(Seriously, I have no idea if that sort of thing is allowed, but...they've already got beds and tables, bathrooms, etc?)

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maybe.. One thing baker said yesterday that is missing here is that he's trying to look for already outfitted buildings to use as hospitals.

And frankly, I can't blame him. it takes more time to stand up a field hospital. and why not, thanks to Bighealthcare many hospitals have shut or merged.

Since they are looking for places who need care but not intensive... we have community hospitals dotted across the state that have either have shuttered or are barely staying open. many are just glorified doctors offices, with no ER (or just 'urgent care'). And if not COVID, but maybe prop them up to be positioned as "if its a non-COVID 19 emergency, go to your community hospital" kinda place. Have checkins out front to 'test' people to ensure they do not have it before entering

but larger places? The Agannis Area, and the Tsongas Arena would be good places.

I'd also start to look at some of the recently abandoned malls in the area, or ones slated to close soon. Silver City being one. Those big anchor stores with tons of parking, limited building egress access, loading dock facilities, HVAC systems, power feeds and such.. would make great pop up hospitals.

If the mall is still open (but shuttered due to restrictions) but anchors are vacant. you could still easily close off the mall entrance. Most anchors are built as separate structures so they are 100% off the grid of the rest of the mall.

Its time to think "out of the box" (pun in tended)

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It's large, already has HVAC, toilets etc

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I think the BCEC is already said to be used. I know i read it here in one of the daily postings a few days ago

I wanna suggest the Hynes might be a smaller place. Tbh, they could take over the Sheraton AND the Hynes. Sheraton could provide private rooms for very sick people, and Hynes could be for folks with less symptoms. The Sheraton already has kitchens, laundry and conference space. It could also be a command center of sorts. Plus its in the city and NOT near any other real hospital.

Its too bad Bayside kinda collapsed.. that would have been a useful space, and the nearby Umass campus could have been used.

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The Hynes, Sheraton, two shopping malls, several office buildings, three other hotels, and two MBTA stations are all directly connected indoors.

If the state takes over some of this for emergency hospitals, can they easily seal it off from the rest that may remain open for public use?

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As long as we are using temporary hospitals, there won't be much else going on as far as normal life.

But the buildings should have isolated utilities, so if we are only concerned about physically sealing the spaces off, that shouldn't be too hard. If you built a wall on both sides of the passage doorways, you'd seal it. Studs and sheetrock do not take very long to hang and finish.

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Two big ones I can think of locally are Sears at CambridgeSide, and Kmart at Assembly Square.

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There's the Silver City Mall in taunton, and the Hanover Mall in Hanover (if it hasn't been torn down some). I am sure if we looked around we could find some more. It really depends on the condition of the building.. if its been sitting a while. It probably can't be used.

And then there's some dying malls like the Square One.. tbh, any for Sears or Kmart location could be used.

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I believe this is mostly or completely closed because of failure to pay utilities and property taxes. And Berkshire County is having its own Covid-19 outbreak.

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There have been numerous discussions about this on reddit where architects who design hospitals weigh in. Existing buildings need to be torn down practically to the frame. Hospitals need very high amounts of power in each room, and then there's compressed air, O2, vacuum. Running those lines outside the walls is both bulky and dangerous.

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I would hesitate to use the Garden only because it is part of North Station -- there is that new community directly above it in those apartments and there is the Star Market that's recently opened -- I think in a pinch it could be used but I don't know if it would be the best solution because the trains and the market are essential and that grocery store serves an underserved section of the city -- if they had to close it to put up a hospital people living around N. Station and in Beacon Hill/The West End would only be able to grocery shop at Whole Foods at Charlesgate or have to travel out of the area when people are supposed to be close to home.

And there's the fact that the owners wouldn't pay their employees when the shut downs happened, so I fear what they'd want in exchange for Partners Hospital at TD Garden.

Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum would be a better choice.

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I can't watch the video right now. Did Baker say how long the extension was going to be? I'm hearing reports of May, June, July... did he not give a date at all?

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Sorry, had that in originally, then managed to edit it out by mistake.

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Why not the Motel 6 in Braintree? Seperate rooms with bsthrooms. Use the lobby and restaurant for staff to setup

https://www.patriotledger.com/news/20180919/braintrees-troubled-motel-6-...

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They should reopen hospitals such as Lynn Union Hospital and the other equivalents as COVID 19 centers in their various locations. Having a dedicated hospital in each major area -- North Shore, South Shore, etc -- will help mitigate the risk of cross-contamination among regular patients at the major hospitals, and having a more local hospital in the communities would encourage people to actually go to the COVID19 center instead of their local hospital for treatment. Obviously no one wants to trek into Boston to go to the Carney while they are suffering symptoms and have no idea where it is because they live in Hamilton, or something, but they might be more willing to go to a more conveniently located hospital.

Setting these hospitals up solely for COVID makes more sense than trying to outfit them to treat everything else BUT COVID, because many of them have become specialty outfits so they probably have a limited capacity for new equipment and set ups. Since the hospitals and clinics that closed in mergers still exist, it would make sense to navigate using those first, before the state navigates more esoteric measures, such as opening up overnight patient care facilities in our state's abandoned department stores.

A good use for the department stores would be to set up a blood donation facility, or maybe even a testing center for COVID19. I think that they are large enough and hopefully in good enough shape that they could be used for these purposes. I do not know if I would trust the structural stability of either the abandoned Kmart or the Sears at Cambridgeside for long term patient care.

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And yes I know, obviously I'd like to see existing buildings used :-) It makes sense and it is the fastest.

But yeah I love your idea of using department stores as testing sites or blood donation facilities. Lots of parking, and ready to use in the short term.

And yes in regards to re-opening the some of the smaller community hospitals for regular emergencies and try to keep people separated as much as possible.

I make up alot of these points because I fear that that these larger centers are being set up, there will be pockets around the state where we'll need smaller more acute care for people, and yes.. even dedicated non-COVID19 places (i.e. current community hospitals). With the idea to try to stop people from coming into Boston to the large hospitals and/or pop up ones.

In the city, because of the density, its's going to be the worst, so its best to try to get people not to come in as much as possible and go elsewhere.

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Yes I didn't want to completely disregard the thoughts of utilizing the old Kmart etc because I think that these buildings can and do have a purpose -- it's just that the people who have COVID already have so many things against them that I would prefer them ideally treated in a place designed for some sort of medical care and not a store that may be in a less than ideal state of repair at this time. Poor Kmart was looking pretty rough there -- decent for a Kmart, a little scary for people with compromised immunity due to a virus.

I think that it would make sense to use community centers or even an old shopping center in places in MA where it is not easy to get to help. I know that UH is Boston based but I fear for those communities that are out in Western MA, especially if borders start to close and suddenly their closest medical center/hospital is inaccessible to them. While ideally utilizing hospitals should be the first step some of those areas are really rural -- it would make more sense to use what space is available there to at the very least assess/triage and THEN make the decision to send them to a bigger hospital.

I know there is a push for telehealth but let's be real sometimes people actually need to see the doctor especially in an emergent situation. If they could either open a health center for those emergencies like broken bones etc I think that would be in people's best interests, less people in the ER means less chance of exposure.

And the fact that the state's ONLY dedicated COVID 19 hospital is still the Carney is no longer acceptable. It's great what the Carney is doing but in the city of Boston we should have more than one center. Even if the VA has to grit their teeth and let civilians get treated at JP or something. Or the Faulkner. There has to be a "less essential" hospital in the city that can fully dedicate itself to this crisis.

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The biggest caseload is and will continue to be Middlesex and Suffolk counties, but some thought has to be given to spread and increasing numbers elsewhere.
Yes, the available hotel & convention space in Boston proper is an important resource, but it's important to increase capacity elsewhere in the state. DCU is a great idea, especially close to all the hospitals in Worcester. I agree with whoever suggested Lowell somewhere upthread. Probably would be a good idea to have something south, too (Brockton, New Bedford/Fall River?) and out west toward Springfield - and prep them now, even if they're not quite needed yet.

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