New York City officials have started lodging health-care workers with coronavirus symptoms in repurposed hotels, providing a template for cities across the U.S. looking for ways to keep hospital workers from infecting more people as they battle the pandemic.

The city is putting health-care workers in hundreds of hotel rooms it has secured across the five boroughs and wants to secure thousands more rooms, said Heather Roiter, the head of hazard mitigation in the city’s Office of Emergency Management. Workers with Covid-19 symptoms can quarantine in the rooms, she said, with separate spaces for asymptomatic health-care workers who want to guard against passing infections to family members.

Other cities could adopt similar plans after a big hotel operator on Monday offered up tens of thousands of rooms across the U.S. Aimbridge Hospitality, the largest operator of Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt hotels, announced a deal with Trestle Health and Housing to make more than 700 U.S. hotels with 103,000 rooms available as surge capacity for hospitals and municipalities.

It’s an attempt to bridge the gap in American hospital capacity during an unprecedented crisis. It’s also an effort to try to generate even meager business as the hospitality industry has been battered by the virus’ spread. With few Americans traveling and most confining themselves to their homes, hoteliers are realizing that their properties’ highest and best use may be as makeshift hospitals or as a place to crash for hospital staff who don’t want to risk bringing the virus home.

Roiter of New York City’s emergency management office said the city would foot the room bills, expecting reimbursement later from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“For us what’s really important is that the hotel is willing to take people who are exposed to Covid-19 and may be symptomatic. And because of the nature of being in isolation, we’ll have to isolate them in a room, and we must have a way to provide feeding and laundry services,” she said.

The city will provide some on-site health care for the workers but isn’t planning on using hotels as hospital space, according to Avery Cohen, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.

Trestle, the consulting firm that’s partnering with Aimbridge on rooms across the U.S., saw a need to move quickly to address the expanding health crisis, according to founder Bill Mulcahy. When the coronavirus hit, Trestle was crafting arrangements with hotels in Los Angeles to house homeless people, he said. “You didn’t have to be a genius to figure out how quickly this was moving and how fast you’d overwhelm the hospitals,” said Mulcahy.

Trestle and Aimbridge pre-published room and meal rates to ward off any concern of price gouging, from $69 a night for a room at the Doubletree in Beaverton, Oregon, to $106 a night for the Hilton in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Governments or hospitals will prepay for an entire hotel for 60 days, and Mulcahy says the hotels can turn them over in fewer than two weeks.

The urgent need to house more patients and health-care workers aligns with hotels’ empty-room woes. Shares of hoteliers have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus bear market, in many cases doubling the 19% year-to-date losses in the S&P 500 index. Shares in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. have fallen 38% during that period, while shares of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Inc. have collapsed 49%.

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