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March 23, 2020

DCU Center could turn into coronavirus care center

Photo | Grant Welker The DCU Center in Worcester

Worcester city officials are due to tour the DCU Center on Monday with the heads of UMass Memorial Medical Center and Saint Vincent Hospital for potential use for caring for coronavirus patients.

City Manager Edward Augustus announced the potential use of the arena and convention center Sunday, giving the region a potential boost in capacity to care for patients at a time when existing hospital beds are expected to fall far short of expected demand in the coming months.

"Right now, there's plenty of capacity at the hospitals," Augustus said. "This is trying to be ahead of the curve should it be necessary."

Projected cases of coronavirus in Greater Worcester and the area's typical hospital bed supply show there is likely to be a major gap, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. The institute's analysis determined Greater Worcester could have among the worst 8% shortage of hospital beds nationally and among the worst 10% for intensive care beds.

Columbia University researchers have estimated Worcester County could see a minimum of 20,000 coronavirus cases by Aug. 1, or multitudes more if containment measures aren't effective.

Augustus said Sunday he met with the heads of UMass Memorial Medical Center and Saint Vincent Hospital -- both major hospitals based in Worcester -- to talk about the need for potential extra space to treat patients who need services but don't need to be in a hospital. They were due to tour the DCU Center together Monday morning.

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