Field House at City of Cambridge’s Temporary Emergency Shelter to Open on April 17

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale today announced that the second phase of the Temporary Emergency Shelter at the War Memorial Recreation Center is scheduled to open on April 17. The Field House is an exclusive area at the shelter that will provide dining, daytime services and overnight shelter for Cambridge residents experiencing homelessness.

Staffed by Bay Cove/CASPAR, the Field House has ample space to ensure physical distancing among residents. It will not be open to the general public. Instead, it will open in stages due to the availability of testing kits. Initially, the Field House will be open to residents staying at the Warming Center who test negative for COVID-19. Next week, additional testing will take place for residents staying at the CASPAR shelter. Those individuals who test negative will then have the option of staying at the Field House.

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT is working with Pro EMS to conduct these tests for shelter residents and staff using the same rapid testing surveillance method currently being used at the seven skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in Cambridge. As more testing becomes available, the City will look to expand and provide relief for additional shelters. Residents who test positive will be transported to regional isolation centers managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“Opening the Field House at the Temporary Emergency Shelter will greatly relieve the stressors faced by homeless shelters in the City, as they need to minimize their capacity to ensure safe social distancing is observed among their residents,” said Mayor Siddiqui and City Manager DePasquale in a joint statement. “We have been working on the logistics for weeks to ensure the safety of the facility’s staff and participants. We want to thank the Broad Institute and Pro EMS for making testing available for those who need to use the Field House. This will minimize any potential transmission among those who may have passed any screenings and did not exhibit symptoms, but were unknowingly carrying the virus.”

Earlier this week, a converted garage at the Temporary Emergency Shelter was the first service area to open. It is designed to support residents who need to be quarantined while they await COVID-19 test results (because they have been in contact with someone who tested positive or display symptoms consistent with COVID-19). In the event that a resident staying at the Field House exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they will be transported to a local medical facility, tested and remain in the quarantine unit at the shelter.

The War Memorial gymnasium, another dedicated area in the Temporary Emergency Shelter, was originally planned as exclusive space for residents who need to be isolated and receive treatment due to confirmed tests or symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Any COVID-19 positive cases at the Temporary Emergency Shelter will now be transported to regional isolation centers administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth announced this week that it no longer plans to use the Freepoint Hotel at 220 Alewife Brook Parkway. The War Memorial gymnasium will remain reserved for additional capacity if the need arises; however, this space is not expected to be activated.

“Our residents experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19, and the opening of this temporary emergency shelter space will provide a safe and warm location for them to practice physical distancing during this crisis,” said Claude A. Jacob, Chief Public Health Officer. “Pro EMS, the Broad Institute and the City’s leadership are making it possible for these vulnerable residents to be tested quickly and I can’t thank them enough for their partnership.”

The City has compiled an updated list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the War Memorial shelter, as well as a dedicated phone number (617-349-9770) and email address (311@cambridgema.gov) for any questions or concerns. Please see https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/warmemorialfaqs for more information.

The City and the Cambridge Public Health Department continue to work closely to identify resources to reinforce the City’s response and preparedness activities. For more information and updates on COVID-19, please visit the City’s dedicated information page: https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19.
Page was posted on 4/16/2020 7:10 PM
Page was last modified on 4/17/2020 11:51 AM
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