PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With the spread of the coronavirus, there are growing concerns about hospital capacity and equipment shortages. People on the front lines are worried as hospitals around the Philadelphia region are seeing a surge of patients and a shortage of protective gear.
Officials say to get more people screened, the state will now set up more testing spots that are expected to open next week.
Similar to what was set up in New Rochelle, New York, Pennsylvania officials are expected to open two mass testing sites for COVID-19 — one in Montgomery County and the other in Philadelphia. Chopper 3 found tents being set up by PA Task Force One at the Citizens Bank Park parking lot.
Sources confirm that the task force is setting up for a possible coronavirus mass testing location in South Philadelphia. It’s unclear when the site will be in operation.
Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Dr. Valerie Arkoosh tells Eyewitness News the Montgomery County site could open as early as next week.
“We have requested and received approval for a drive-through testing location in Montgomery County. This site should be open to the public by early next week,” Arkoosh said.
It’s desperately needed by hospitals that are being bombarded with patients. Many have resorted to drive-thru testing in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside already crowded hospitals.
“I need to save my personnel and my supplies and my tests for patients that end up in my emergency rooms and in my urgent care and in my inpatient beds,” said Jack Lynch, president of Main Line Health.
Lynch says they have 40 patients hospitalized at Lankenau, Bryn Mawr and Paoli with positive and presumed cases of COVID-19. They’re being cared for in specialized rooms to protect staff and other patients, but there are limited supplies of protective equipment, especially masks.
“So, we’re trying not to use the highest level on every single potential risk, to ensure that we have those masks available for the more serious, higher risk procedures and patients,” Lynch said.
Medical supplies are a big concern everywhere as more hospital workers are now testing positive. Whether they’re exposed inside the hospital or the community, it could result in staffing shortages.
“As more get sick and have exposure, we get sidelined and then who’s there to take care of the patients?” said Bonnie Castillo, executive director of National Nurses United.
Health officials are pleading with people to stay home to help contain the spread. Testing is still limited and only for people with symptoms of a fever, cough and intense fatigue and they have to have a doctor referral.
Resources mean progress, which is good, but sights like the mass testing site at Citizens Bank Park can also solidify some negative emotions like anxiety.
“It’s OK to not be OK. This is a very unusual and unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in,” Arkoosh said.
Over FaceTime, Eyewitness News connected with Dr. Valerie Braunstein, a local clinical psychologist.
“Yes, it’s scary but we are not helpless,” she said.
Braunstein says to focus on the things you can control and to practice self-care.
Mental health experts explain how we should talk to our children about why they are home.
“Take this opportunity to talk to kids about how we help vulnerable people in our community, like the elderly, and that we are washing our hands and making sure we stay home so we don’t spread this to them,” Braunstein said.
She adds that anxiety over new situations like this doesn’t last forever. The mind adjusts to the task.
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.