Chicago uses hotels to quarantine coronavirus patients as New York considers a similar plan

Chicago News

The city of Chicago has started reserving thousands of hotel rooms for people with mild cases of the coronavirus and others unable to return to their homes while awaiting test results.

Chicago has partnered with five hotels that will have 1,000 rooms available, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says. 

The first patients were moved into a lodging, renamed Hotel 166, on the city’s North Side Tuesday.

A hotel on the north side of Chicago (pictured) which has been renamed 'Hotel 166' is one of five that will be used to help quarantine people with mild cases of the coronavirus and others unable to return to their homes while awaiting test results

A hotel on the north side of Chicago (pictured) which has been renamed 'Hotel 166' is one of five that will be used to help quarantine people with mild cases of the coronavirus and others unable to return to their homes while awaiting test results

A hotel on the north side of Chicago (pictured) which has been renamed ‘Hotel 166’ is one of five that will be used to help quarantine people with mild cases of the coronavirus and others unable to return to their homes while awaiting test results

Chicago has partnered with five hotels that will have 1,000 rooms available, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says. She is pictured during a coronavirus briefing

Chicago has partnered with five hotels that will have 1,000 rooms available, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says. She is pictured during a coronavirus briefing

Chicago has partnered with five hotels that will have 1,000 rooms available, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says. She is pictured during a coronavirus briefing 

The view from a rooftop lounge at Hotel 166, one of the lodgings in Chicago that has been set up to take in coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and others who are awaiting their test results to know if they are infected with the deadly illness

The view from a rooftop lounge at Hotel 166, one of the lodgings in Chicago that has been set up to take in coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and others who are awaiting their test results to know if they are infected with the deadly illness

The view from a rooftop lounge at Hotel 166, one of the lodgings in Chicago that has been set up to take in coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and others who are awaiting their test results to know if they are infected with the deadly illness

The city did not release how many people were moved into the hotel, and did not name the other hotels that have agreed to join the effort. 

Lightfoot estimates 2,000 rooms will be available by the end of the week. 

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he’s also considering hotels and dormitories for treatment sites as work continues to turn the city’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a temporary field hospital. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he's also considering hotels and dormitories for treatment sites

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he's also considering hotels and dormitories for treatment sites

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he’s also considering hotels and dormitories for treatment sites

Cuomo mentioned his interest in hotels and dormitories as work continues to turn the city's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a temporary field hospital. He is pictured against a backdrop of key supplies, including masks, needed to contain the outbreak

Cuomo mentioned his interest in hotels and dormitories as work continues to turn the city's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a temporary field hospital. He is pictured against a backdrop of key supplies, including masks, needed to contain the outbreak

Cuomo mentioned his interest in hotels and dormitories as work continues to turn the city’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a temporary field hospital. He is pictured against a backdrop of key supplies, including masks, needed to contain the outbreak

New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is being converted into a 1,000 bed medical facility for combating the coronavirus outbreak

New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is being converted into a 1,000 bed medical facility for combating the coronavirus outbreak

New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is being converted into a 1,000 bed medical facility for combating the coronavirus outbreak

Chicago’s move comes as government officials nationwide are searching for facilities that could act as a relief valve for hospitals amid building concern that demand will exceed available space and equipment for coronavirus patients with severe symptoms.  

Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for neighborhood and economic development in Chicago, said the city’s public health team wanted a plan that teamed with hotel owners and their staff, rather than a takeover run entirely by public employees as in cities in Asia and Europe.

‘Quarantine and isolation units are going to be used in every city across the country eventually, in their own way, shape and form,’ Mayekar said. 

‘Every hour, every day counts.’

There have been in the US close to 60,000 confirmed cases of the deadly, virus, also known as COVID-19. The infection has been blamed for at least 823 known deaths across the country. 

Illinois has had 1,865 cases and 19 known deaths blamed on the outbreak. 

There have been in the US close to 60,000 confirmed cases of the deadly, flu-like virus, also known as COVID-19. The infection has been blamed for at least 823 known deaths across the country

There have been in the US close to 60,000 confirmed cases of the deadly, flu-like virus, also known as COVID-19. The infection has been blamed for at least 823 known deaths across the country

There have been in the US close to 60,000 confirmed cases of the deadly, flu-like virus, also known as COVID-19. The infection has been blamed for at least 823 known deaths across the country

The reserved hotel rooms in Chicago are intended for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 but have mild symptoms that don’t require a hospital stay.

They also could be used by people awaiting test results who are unable to stay home due to the risk of spreading the virus to family members, particularly those who are vulnerable to more severe symptoms due to their age or health issues.

‘We need to build this excess network of other spaces so we can take pressure off of hospitals and reserve those acute care beds for those that are most in need of intensive medical treatment,’ Lightfoot said Tuesday.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. 

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Public health officials or hospitals will inform patients who test positive that the rooms are available, but the decision to use a room is voluntary, Mayekar said.

No one is making public predictions about demand.

City officials have said Chicago’s hospitals aren’t at the critical level seen in New York this week. But Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that the state will need almost 38,000 additional hospital beds – double what’s available – as the number of cases continues to rise.

Chicago officials say local hospitals aren't at the critical level seen in New York this week. Workers dismantle the awning on the city's Norwegian American Hospital to install a second coronavirus testing and screening tent outside the facility

Chicago officials say local hospitals aren't at the critical level seen in New York this week. Workers dismantle the awning on the city's Norwegian American Hospital to install a second coronavirus testing and screening tent outside the facility

Chicago officials say local hospitals aren’t at the critical level seen in New York this week. Workers dismantle the awning on the city’s Norwegian American Hospital to install a second coronavirus testing and screening tent outside the facility

Workers outside Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago install a second coronavirus testing tent. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that the state will need almost 38,000 additional hospital beds to treat coronavirus patients - double what's available - as number rise.

Workers outside Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago install a second coronavirus testing tent. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that the state will need almost 38,000 additional hospital beds to treat coronavirus patients - double what's available - as number rise.

Workers outside Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago install a second coronavirus testing tent. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that the state will need almost 38,000 additional hospital beds to treat coronavirus patients – double what’s available – as number rise.

A coronavirus tent is seen outside the emergency room at Chicago's Norwegian American Hospital. On Wednesday afternoon, Illinois reported 1,865 COVID-19 infections and 19 deaths linked to the virus

A coronavirus tent is seen outside the emergency room at Chicago's Norwegian American Hospital. On Wednesday afternoon, Illinois reported 1,865 COVID-19 infections and 19 deaths linked to the virus

A coronavirus tent is seen outside the emergency room at Chicago’s Norwegian American Hospital. On Wednesday afternoon, Illinois reported 1,865 COVID-19 infections and 19 deaths linked to the virus

Americans are unlikely to respond positively to being forced into quarantine outside their home, so it’s wise to choose appealing options like hotels that can provide comfort and familiarity, said Effi Benmelech, director of the Guthrie Center for Real Estate Research at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

A more forceful approach, as deployed in China and Israel, would likely be rejected here, he said.

‘In the U.S., we need to think about the carrot, the incentive,’ he said.

In the Chicago hotels, public health and other city employees will handle all face-to-face interactions with patients, delivering food to their doors and announcing it with a quiet knock, Mayekar said.

Hotel cooks will prepare three meals per day and housekeeping staff will receive training from public health employees on cleaning linens and handling trash or meals. 

Fresh linens will be delivered outside patients’ rooms as needed, not daily.

If maintenance staff are needed inside a hotel room, the patient will move to another room and their first room will be sanitized before workers enter, Mayekar said.

‘This is not going to be a day-to-day, normal experience in a hotel,’ he said.

The agreements also made the city responsible for extensive cleaning of the hotels when they are no longer needed for quarantining patients.

The deal comes as a life raft for some Chicago hotel industry workers, who saw customers and their income disappear as the virus began to spread in the U.S.

Hotels in some markets have seen occupancy dive to single digits and reports of hotel employees being laid off throughout the country began this week, said Michael Jacobson, president of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association.

‘By no means is a hotel making money off of this,’ he said of Chicago’s plan. ‘The money that is being collected is really just helping these hotels get by.’

Leave a Reply