As college students leave on-campus housing after the COVID-19 outbreak forced schools to close, some universities are planning to use the freed-up space to help local hospitals and health care systems at risk of being overwhelmed.
“The quickly expanding COVID-19 outbreak in the United States is soon expected to outstrip the capacity of our hospitals, as in Italy, where they have resorted to makeshift tents, hallways, and parking lots,” Anthony Monaco, president of Tufts University in Massachusetts, wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed. Tufts ordered its students to vacate shortly after a student tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan and causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement of the outbreak fueled its spread throughout China and across the world.
“When this happens, colleges and universities must take a leadership role in relieving this unprecedented stress on our health care system,” Monaco wrote, adding that Tufts’s campuses are prepared to help local hospitals meet their needs if they reach peak capacity due to a surge of patients.
Those vacant dorms, according to Monaco, are ready to be used for patients in quarantine, health workers who have been exposed to the virus and want to stay away from family members, as well as patients requiring non-essential medical care so that hospitals can save beds for COVID-19 patients. Monaco also proposed that the university’s parking lots and gyms be converted into drive-thru virus testing centers and field hospitals.
Meanwhile, the University of Maine (UMaine) system is working with state and local health agencies to determine how its resources, including its now-vacant residential facilities, can be deployed to help Maine better respond to the pandemic.
The UMaine system has seven schools across the state, hosting some 30,000 students. All students left their dorms by Sunday.
“We have taken immediate steps to protect the health of our students and employees, continue to provide instruction at a distance, and to help reduce the spread of coronavirus,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy in a press release. “But with lives hanging in the balance Maine’s universities must do even more. We are considering all appropriate steps to deploy our resources to assist Maine’s public health and emergency management leaders.”
Last week, New York University also told its students to vacate dorms so they could be re-purposed to house COVID-19 patients. The move came shortly after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged President Donald Trump to order U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to convert dorms at the State University of New York into temporary medical centers.
“Let’s retrofit buildings, let’s purchase the equipment, let’s use that massive logistical machine of the military to actually save lives,” said Cuomo. “It’s the best option.”