Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) is urging state health officials to implement a coordinated COVID-19 surge plan for the SouthCoast.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Lou Sudders, Montigny says he's spent the last week conferring with local health providers about the need to identify, equip, and staff local facilities capable of handling a surge of coronavirus cases requiring isolation, quarantine, and care.

Montigny added, "Its critical that the Southcoast has an immediate plan, coordinated and led by the state's COVID-19 Response Center in collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers and local health care providers. We cannot afford to wait."

Here's Montigny's letter to Secretary Sudders:

Dear Secretary Sudders:

I am writing to urge for immediate coordination by the COVID-19 Response Command Center to implement a Southeast regional overflow plan, addressing the projected surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Since hearing from our local hospitals on Monday, both myself and staff have sought
direction and answers from the Center that our providers have repeatedly requested. I have been in daily, personal contact with our hospitals and they are still seeking direction from the state.

We know there are several nursing facilities and other alternative sites in New Bedford being considered by our providers. We also know that considerable effort will be required to properly outfit and staff these sites. Our region needs immediate coordination through the Command Center and Army Corps to execute these options as soon as possible.

To be clear, Bristol County is a very high-risk population in regards to COVID-19. We also know from public health experts that Massachusetts as a whole lacks enough capacity to meet the projected demand. The statistics are unsettling and we must take advantage of these next few days.

Thank you for your continued efforts during these extraordinary times. I look forward to finalizing a Southeast regional plan in the immediate future.

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