Chicago to rent out thousands of hotel rooms for people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

As U.S. hospitals struggle to figure out ways to manage the expected influx of COVID-19 patients, the city of Chicago is moving ahead with one strategy — renting out thousands of rooms in hotels to isolate confirmed and suspected cases of the new coronavirus illness, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The city will have rented 1,000 rooms in five hotels by March 24 for people who have mild cases of COVID-19, people who think they may have been exposed to the virus and people who are waiting for test results.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a news conference that by the end of the week, 2,000 hotels will be available for COVID-19 isolation. The city's public health department will refer people to the hotel rooms rented by the city at "competitive rates" of about $175 per night, the mayor's office said. The people quarantined in the hotel rooms will receive three meals, paid by the city upfront.

Aside from helping ease the strain on the city's hospitals, the new plan will help provide revenue for the city's hospitality industry and allow its employees to continue working. The city's health department employees will staff floors where people are isolated.

Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar told the Tribune that Chicago's plan is different from those in which cities have taken over full operations of hotels. In Chicago's plan, hotel workers will continue running the front desk, kitchens and other tasks. Hotel workers tasked with making meals and cleaning rooms will not have any contact with the quarantined people.

"What we're announcing today is a pioneering model for the country," Mr. Mayekar told the Tribune. "It's one of the first situations in any major city where we've actually worked out an agreement with a hotel operator, owner and the workers to help staff this type of agreement."

As of 11:48 a.m. CDT, March 23, Illinois had 1,050 cases of COVID-19. There had been 490 cases of COVID-19 identified in Chicago, on March 22.

More articles on public health:
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