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City will use 11,000 more hotel rooms to quarantine New Yorkers next week

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference for the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at City Hall in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 17, 2020. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

Thousands of more hotel rooms are being prepared as quarantine spaces for some of the city’s most vulnerable communities in order to slow the spread of the virus,  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. 

“We are far from out of the woods,” said de Blasio during his daily coronavirus press conference. “Bluntly, I thought that by this point I had expected a number of these hotels to already have been converted to field hospitals….thank God that has not been the case.”

Priority will be given to healthcare workers at any of the city’s 56 hospitals, the homeless and sick New Yorkers living in multi-generational homes in lower income neighborhoods in the city, the mayor said.

“If a member of the family is symptomatic or a member of the family is high risk, we will have a room that will allow them to isolate from other family members,” said de Blasio. Officials will work with community centers, public hospitals and clinics to identify people to place in the new quarantine rooms. 

The change in approach comes five days after the mayor announced that his administration would move 6,000 New Yorkers facing homelessness to hotel rooms and weeks after homeless advocacy groups like Vocal-NY, Picture the Homeless and Neighbors Together called on de Blasio to immediately place 30,000 homeless individuals in one of the city’s over 100,000 vacant hotel rooms. 

The change in housing approach also comes weeks after preliminary city data highlighted the disparity between available health care and race in the city and showed that black and Hispanic New Yorkers are dying nearly twice as much as other New Yorkers. 

Officials will begin moving those New Yorkers to the newly available room next Wednesday April 22.

Hotel in the Bronx could be one of those used by the city. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

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