We spoke this morning with Cheryl Bartlett, CEO of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center. She told us that because of the obvious demand for COVID-19 testing, the health center was able to launch outdoor testing this week.

Bringing the testing outdoors will enable the center to more than double the amount of testing they are able to do on a daily basis.

"We moved to a tent out back so we can test more people," she said. "When you test indoors in a closed environment like a patient exam room the airflow is inadequate to really clear the air and the virus out of the space, so we have to leave those rooms closed for two hours before we then go in and disinfect them. Clearly, that takes up a lot of the resources we have, so a tent with the open air and airflow, we are able to minimize that risk and see more people."

Bartlett says that the tent will not be like the drive-thru variety that you may have seen on TV. According to Bartlett, roughly 75 percent of the health center's patients do not own a car, traveling instead by bus or on foot, so the tent will be walk-up.

The new outdoor testing setup will allow the Greater New Bedford Health Center to now test up to 50 people a day for COVID-19. If the health center sees an increase in demand, they will look towards increasing that number even higher.

It is very important for people experiencing symptoms and seeking a COVID-19 test to call to make an appointment before heading into the health center.

Pictured below are some of the COVID-19 nurses on their lunch break.

Courtesy of Greater New Bedford Community Health Center

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