Chicago to rent more than 1,000 hotel rooms for COVID-19 isolation

A woman waits for a bus on a nearly empty street

A woman waits for a bus on a nearly empty street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, on March 21, 2020. – Almost one billion people were confined to their homes worldwide on March 21 as the global coronavirus death toll topped 12,000 and US states rolled out stay-at-home measures already imposed across swathes of Europe. More than a third of Americans were adjusting to life in various phases of virtual lockdown — including in the US’s three biggest cities of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — with more states expected to ramp up restrictions. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

CHICAGO (WGN) — The city of Chicago announced Monday it plans to rent more than 1,000 rooms at five hotels for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not in need of hospital care.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the partnership with local hotel operators will take the burden off hospital resources during the coronavirus pandemic.

“By working in tandem with healthcare experts and local organizations to increase capacity for those affected, we have been able to develop innovative solutions to ensure every resident — regardless of status or where they live — are able to obtain the care and refuge needed to prevent the spread of this disease and keep every Chicagoan safe and secure,” Lightfoot said.

People who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 — or are waiting on test results — can be transferred to downtown hotels.

Lightfoot’s office said it will secure rates of about $175 per night, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Lightfoot said it will cost the city $1 million to operate each hotel for 30 days.

Hotel workers who work during the quarantine operation will be trained and will not directly interact with guests, Lightfoot’s office said.

“These companies and workers stepping up at this time should be held in the highest regard,” said Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara.

To ease the burden, YMCA centers will be repurposed to serve as emergency shelters with the city providing 400 beds for people who are displaced or homeless.

The city said it is increasing visits to encampments to check for hygiene kits and hand-washing stations.

“These measures are needed now because we do expect to continue to see a significant increase in lab confirmed cases in Chicago for some time, both as the virus continues to spread and as more testing become available,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner, Chicago Public Health Department.

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