CONWAY S.C. (WBTW) — COVID-19 treatment tents came down Monday at Conway Medical Center.

For many of the hospital’s staff members, seeing the tents come down was a breath of fresh air.

“I’ve seen more smiles this morning than I’ve seen in a long, long time, obviously because we’ve been wearing masks,” Dr. Paul Richardson, CMC’s chief medical officer, said. “You can see it in people’s eyes. This is a big deal.”

The triage tents went up outside the emergency entrance in August because of the late-summer surge in cases.

“We don’t know if that’s going to occur,” Richardson said. “We hope it’s not, but for right now this is the right move for us. We do believe that the time is right to go ahead and get these down.”

CMC officials said the tents were used for patients with symptoms of COVID-19 and for treating patients with the virus who did not require hospitalization.

“I think it’s a real morale booster for everybody, I hope for the community as well,” Richardson said. “Again, we’re not saying COVID is gone by any stretch of imagination. We’re just at a point where we believe this the right move at this point.”

The decline in case numbers also calls for a relaxed masking protocol.

“For vaccinated individuals, we are going mask optional, Richardson said. “Now, obviously, if one of our patients or another team member feels more comfortable with someone in a mask, we are asking everyone to mask up in those kinds of occasions.”

As of April 8, Richardson said there were three COVID patients within the system.