Two Rhode Island mayors are asking that a hospital that closed in 2017 be reopened to help the state deal with the new coronavirus pandemic.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa sent a letter to Care New England this week saying Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket could be used as a testing site, respiratory center or isolation center.
The mayors said many residents of their cities can’t make it to other hospitals or testing sites around the state.
Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday the state is looking at 15 to 20 sites, including Memorial Hospital.
Care New England’s CEO, Dr. James Fanale, said his organization is working with the state to figure out the best geographic locations for coronavirus care sites.
Care New England closed Memorial in 2017, citing low patient counts and steep financial losses.
Eight people have died in Rhode Island from the coronavirus and there were nearly 500 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, the state Department of Health reported.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.