Obviously big cities get a lot of attention given their population and density. New York is a current hot spot and we were interested when they mentioned they are going to use the Jacob Javits Center to help alleviate some of the strain and demand being put on their hospital infrastructure.
For those who don't know, the Javits center is a huge convention space similar to our McCormick place campus. This got us wondering if McCormick Place might be used for overflow patients who were sick, but didn't require ICU type of treatment a hospital could provide?
We haven't seen any news about this and did a quick Google search which didn't provide much insight on the thought. Instead, it was announced that the city of Chicago was working with hotels to use their empty floors/room to meet the demand of sick patients (via Chicago Tribune):
The city of Chicago plans to rent thousands of hotel rooms to be used for people diagnosed with the new coronavirus or those who believe they’ve been exposed, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus and relieve the burden on hospitals.
By Tuesday, the city will have more than 1,000 rooms in a combined five Chicago hotels available to isolate people who are mildly ill with COVID-19, who fear they’ve been exposed, and for those who are awaiting test results. The city already has an agreement to rent rooms in the 215-room Hotel One Sixty-Six Magnificent Mile, formerly a Cambria hotel.
By the end of this week, there will be more than 2,000 hotel rooms available, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced at a Monday news conference.
“People in Chicago are stepping up and rising tall in this moment,” Lightfoot said.
In addition to helping on the health care front, the effort will provide a source of revenue and continued employment for the hospitality industry, which has been hobbled by travel restrictions and the growing number of cases.
It's an interesting idea and at face value seems like an ingenious solution. Sure there are a ton of questions - who is paying? how will the hotels be cleaned afterwards? are the hotel staffs really equipped to tend to the sick?
Assuming the details get sorted out, it meets the likely demand surge most experts are warning us of and potentially props up a sector of the economy that has been decimated by the shelter in place order. The article notes some chilling (yet unsurprising) stats about this industry:
Chicago’s decision to rent hotel rooms comes as the hotel industry struggles to weather a plunge in demand for guest rooms. Occupancy levels at hotels in the central business district hovered at nearly 53% during the first week in March and dropped to 35.6% the following week — about half as high as occupancy rates for the same time period last year, according to hotel industry data firm STR.
Occupancy levels are “in the single digits across the city,” Jacobson said. “I heard one of the largest hotels downtown had one flight crew last night of 10 rooms and one other person. Another hotel had a single guest check in earlier last week.”
Will any of the Sloop's hotels be tapped to help here? It seems like the hotels around Northwestern in Streeterville are likely the first ones that will be utilized, but we will see.
Regardless, we applaud this thinking by the city and hopefully it lives up to its potential.