BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. (WPRI) — The state of Massachusetts is up to 957 deaths due to COVID-19 and the total number of cases has topped 28,000, according to new numbers released Tuesday by the Mass. Department of Public Health.
The DPH reported an additional 113 deaths on Tuesday — the highest one-day increase to date — along with 1,296 new cases.
Earlier on Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito toured the field hospital being set up at Joint Base Cape Cod. The 94-bed facility is expected to begin admitting patients on Monday, April 20.
“We are all incredibly grateful for the work that’s been done by the National Guard across the Commonwealth since the beginning of this outbreak,” Baker said. “I can’t say enough good things about the work that they’ve been doing.”
He also said a similar facility with 140 beds is being deployed at UMass Dartmouth.
The university confirms it will be located inside Tripp Athletic Center and run by Southcoast Health.
UMD Chancellor Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., released a statement Tuesday saying the university is “proud to assist Southcoast Health and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency in the preparation of a surge hospital on our campus.”
“We are an institution committed to society’s greater good and celebrate the power of these collaborations for the benefit of all,” he continued. “I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their leadership during these unprecedented times and to our long-time partners in Southcoast Health who have done a tremendous job keeping our region safe.”
At this time, the campus remains open to the public so people can walk around and enjoy the outdoors. Pam Sefrino, who lives nearby and often visits with her dog Troy, said she hopes that doesn’t change but understands the need for the field hospital.
“Doesn’t really concern me, as long as they keep it contained,” she said. “We need to do our best to care for the sick because any of us could end up in that situation and be sick and we would want that opportunity for ourselves.”
Renee Clark, Southcoast Health’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said she met with MEMA at the center on Monday. She expects it to be up and running by April 27 and said it will be essential in making sure Southcoast Health doesn’t exceed patient capacity.
“Honestly, we wouldn’t be able to add 140 more beds at our facility so yes, it does take a little bit of that pressure off,” she added.
Baker also announced Tuesday that the state has expanded its COVID-19 response reporting to include hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution data.
As of Sunday night, the state is up to roughly 15,900 hospital beds in total, about half of which are available right now for various levels of care, according to the governor.
On Monday, Baker launched new initiative to help manufacturers start producing much-needed equipment and supplies for hospitals and other health care facilities, with $10 million in funding available for equipment, materials, training and more.
For more information on COVID-19 in Massachusetts, visit Mass.gov, call 211 or text COVIDMA or COVIDMAESP (Spanish) to 888-777 to receive text notifications.
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