Chicago provides hotel rooms for people with coronavirus

People who test positive for coronavirus or are awaiting test results may be housed in hotel rooms rented by the city beginning today, according to a press release issued by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.

Intended to “relieve unnecessary strain on hospitals and healthcare workers,” the measure will apply to those “who cannot safely return home (but) do not need hospital care.”

To date, the city has reached agreements with local hotels to provide more than 1,000 rooms for those “exposed to or mildly ill with COVID-19.” 

“I applaud the commitment and dedication of our city’s partner organizations as we work together to meet this moment brought by COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “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.”

According to a story published today in the Chicago Tribune, the program may expand to include up to 4,000 hotel rooms costing about $175 per night, and the expense will be covered by “federal funds and other potential sources.” 

Chicago Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood and Economic Development Samir Mayekar told the Tribune that the plan is a “pioneering model for the country.”

“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,” he explained.

The news comes four days after Governor Pritzker addressed the need for additional beds during a COVID-19 press conference on Thursday, March 19. These beds will help relieve the burden that the outbreak may place on hospitals.  

In his opening remarks, the governor announced that he had activated 13,000 National Guard troops. Referring to them as a “force of really extraordinary citizens,” he described their help in planning for the future.

“The Guard is also doing critical work planning for the weeks and months ahead,” he said, “including expanding our health care capacity by refitting and reopening previously closed hospitals.”

The comment inspired an attendee to enquire about capacity during the post-conference Q&A.

“We’re looking at what’s available now,” he said. “Then we’re looking at all of the available other opportunities for us to increase hospital beds.”

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