UNC Charlotte prepares student dorms to house COVID-19 patients

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- UNC Charlotte is about to help with the local COVID-19 response by opening its residence halls to patients.

The University is prepared to use six of its dormitories on campus to house more than 2,000 patients if needed. The buildings have up to 400 beds, according to the UNCC website.


In a letter to students, Chancellor Phillip Dubois writes "We are in an international crisis. We are being asked to live, study, and work differently. We must also think differently about our responsibilities to each other and the larger community during this time, which means sometimes stepping forward to serve the Charlotte region in new ways."

Students in the dorms will move out over the next week.

This was a move Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry talked about as being a possibility during the state's daily news conference on Thursday. During that news conference, he said his office was working on a sheltering program for people who have been exposed to the virus or are symptomatic, but may not need to go to the hospital. The program would draw on hotels and dormitories for thousands of rooms, Sprayberry said.

The state Department of Health and Human Services reports Mecklenburg County has 495 cases and one death stemming from COVID-19.

RELATED: Gov. Cooper: We haven't reached our peak in North Carolina but 'we're going to get through this'

The health systems in Mecklenburg County are concerned about having enough hospital beds to handle the number of patients. Health care systems Atrium and Novant have asked the county to build a "mass care" field hospital on campus to treat thousands of people.

Health officials say nearly 60 homeless people in the county have either been suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus, or have been exposed to someone who has.
Copyright © 2020 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.