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Giant Tents Built For Coronavirus Screening Among Boston's Homeless Population

BOSTON (CBS) - The city of Boston is taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus among the city's homeless population.

Within a matter of days, Suffolk Construction helped the city setup two massive tents outside a homeless shelter in Boston's South End. They are being used to screen shelter residents for COVID-19, and give them a place to isolate while waiting for test results.

"One tent of about 16 beds is an isolation tent. It's for people who have symptoms," explained Dr. Jim O'Connell of Boston Health Care for the Homeless. The tent contains beds, rather than cots, that are six feet apart and 16 individual toilets.

So far, several dozen people have used the facility while waiting on results, or for isolation after exposure to somebody who has coronavirus.

"Rather than send them to the shelter or keep them in the emergency room, we can take care of them there until their test results are back," O'Connell said.

Coronavirus homeless screening tents
Two giant tents were setup in the South End, to screen and isolate homeless people exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. (Image: WBZ-TV)

If the test is negative, that person is discharged from the tents and can return to the shelter.

Treatment is available for those who test positive, in a converted wing of the Barbara McInnis House, a respite care center for the homeless.

"We've converted that or reengineered it," O'Connell explained, "into an isolation ward for people that have the coronavirus and are homeless."

As of Tuesday evening, there have been no positive test results among the city's homeless population.


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