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What are those tents outside of Norwegian American Hospital?

By Jim Vondruska / March 26, 2020

I woke up to the sound of a large engine idling outside my bedroom window. Looking out, I came to find that a bright red semi truck was parked in the bus lane with “Mutual Aid Box Alarm System: Illinois Terrorism Task Force Special Operations” written in big bold letters on the side. With a slight bit of confusion I grabbed my cameras and ventured outside to see what was happening. The next side street over was being used as a staging area for a few vans and trucks towing portable flood lights. I assumed this was going to be something to do with the hospital, so I continued on.

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The Norwegian American Hospital is only a two block walk from my apartment, and as I turned the corner on Cortez street, I saw a large brown FEMA type tent outside the ambulance drop-off doors. When I approached the tent, there were a handful of workers in day glow vests using circular handsaws to cut apart the awning that spans from the south entrance to the curbside. After introducing myself to a few people on the grounds, I met the COO of the hospital and he detailed what exactly was happening.

Norwegian American Hospital had received the first federally funded COVID-19 testing tents in Illinois. They received two large military grade vinyl tents, with lighting, and air circulation systems. The tents will initially be used as preliminary screening facilities for the staff entering and exiting the hospital. It will eventually be open to the public for these preliminary screenings until the hospital can receive adequate testing materials from the US Government. The tents will remain open and operating until the end of the pandemic.