CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cambridge’s War Memorial and Field house at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School has partially opened as a temporary emergency shelter for those affected by the virus.
There are about 500 homeless people who live in Cambridge, according to city leaders. While the homeless do not all stay in shelters, the shelters generally used by them are full, said Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville Bard, a member of the city task force on coronavirus.
The War Memorial’s garage was converted into space for people tested for COVID-19 who are awaiting results because they came in contact with a person who tested positive or someone who had the symptoms.
“It allows us to decongest our existing shelters thereby mitigating the spread of COVID which we know thrives on congestion.”
According to a news release from the city’s website, the War Memorial gymnasium was to be used as a space for residents needing isolation because of confirmed COVID-19 tests.
Cambridge Police officers are on patrol outside of the War Memorial, and a private security firm has been hired to staff inside the walls of the building as well as medical personnel, according to the city.
Boston 25 News asked what would happen if someone infected with coronavirus with symptoms shows up at the War Memorial, a city spokesperson shared the following:
They would be transported to a local medical facility and tested. Separate physical space is available for individuals that need to be quarantined while awaiting COVID-19 test results. Unique to this site is the ability to provide quarantine space without entering the building, since individuals will be housed in a temporary setting on the lower level. This will allow for easy and safe access to care and transport. If they learn that the results are positive, they would be transported to the State’s hotel facility for positive COVID-19 cases.
Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders announced that the state was entering a contract with the Freepoint Hotel on 220 Alewife Brook Parkway to serve as the exclusive space for regional homeless people who tested positive for the virus.
The War Memorial is for more than just those who are homeless, Bard stated. It is also for those living roommates who are especially vulnerable to the virus at home such as the elderly or immunosuppressed individuals.
To get the word out about the new emergency shelter to the homeless population, the City is working with local providers including Bay Cove Human Services and Healthcare for the Homeless.
“I think they are doing the right thing not just for the benefit of this underserved population but also for the overall health and wellbeing of the community,” said Joe Finn, President of the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance.
Friday, the field house at the War Memorial is scheduled to open for those with no symptoms, who have nowhere else to go.