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Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to become 1,000-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients, Marty Walsh says

"I’m hoping it stays empty. These are just for emergency purposes."

Mayor Marty Walsh confirmed Thursday that officials will transform the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston into a 1,000-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients, half of which will be reserved for treating homeless adults.

The announcement came a day after members of the National Guard began assembling a 250-bed facility at Worcester’s DCU Center and as state officials continued to search for sites in the state that could house non-critical patients amid an anticipated surge in coronavirus cases.

According to Walsh, construction at the Boston convention center began Thursday, and the city has released a request for proposals for a partner organization to oversee the homeless care at the site.

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Five hundred beds will serve homeless men and women who have tested positive and need care but do not require full hospitalization, he said. The other 500 beds will be dedicated for coronavirus patients coming from area hospitals, Walsh said.

“Whether it’s our homeless facility there or it’s spillover for additional beds, we’re hoping that we don’t need it,” Walsh said during an afternoon press conference. “We’re … building it and I’m hoping it stays empty. These are just for emergency purposes.”

With the new influx, the city will have over 1,000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 treatment for homeless patients, he said.

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“That includes 250 beds at Boston Medical Center’s Newton Pavilion that we’re working with the state on,” Walsh said. “This space allows us to care for a population with complex needs, and, if necessary, we’ll be able to open up the convention center beds for hospitals to serve sub-acute COVID patients from the general population.”

As of Thursday, Boston had seen 1,233 coronavirus cases — up 176 since the day before — and 106 local patients had made full recoveries, according to Walsh. He said 10 city residents have died due to COVID-19 complications.

Officials are anticipating cases will continue to rise across Massachusetts as the number of patients is anticipated to surge this month.

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“Moving forward, we’ll continue to be an active partner to our medical community in securing the space and support as they need it to do their life-saving work,” Walsh said.

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