California: hotel rooms for coronavirus health workers


California healthcare workers may be eligible for discounted hotel rooms under a new deal announced today by Governor Gavin Newsom as part of the state’s continued efforts to limit the spread of the disease. coronavirus.

More than 150 hotels around California have agreed to provide discounted rooms to help “a deeply stressed workforce,” the governor said – health workers treating COVID-19 patients who fear sleeping at home could expose their families to the virus.

“Some of the finest and finest hotel chains in the world are participating in this program, providing significant discounts to the State of California, and we will extend these significant discounts directly to our caregivers,” Newsom said.

“They can stay closer to the needs of their communities. “

The announcement follows a similar move in New York City and comes after reports surfaced that a Bay Area nurse was spending $ 2,000 a month to stay at an Orange County hotel and doctor. sleeping in a tent in his garage – both trying to avoid exposing their families. to the virus they may have caught at work.

Newsom did not identify participating hotels or give extensive details on the cost of discounted hotel rooms. He described a sliding scale that would offer discounts for workers with higher incomes and full refunds for workers with low wages, and said more information will be available on this website soon.

The priority is to provide hotel rooms in areas of the state that have a dense population or large numbers of people with COVID-19, including Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Diego and Fresno Counties.

Healthcare workers who were frustrated with a shortage of protective equipment said the discounted hotel rooms were “a nice gesture” but were not what they expected from their employers.

“The bottom line is that healthcare facilities should provide appropriate personal protective equipment and infection control policies and practices in the first place so that nurses and other healthcare workers should not have to resort to life in their own. car or camp in their garages to avoid exposing loved ones to the COVID-19 virus, ”said a statement from National Nurses United spokesperson Lucia Hwang.

The union, she said, wants employers or the government to cover the full cost of hotel rooms, adding that the discounted rooms “do not adequately support nurses who risk their lives on a daily basis to fight back. first line of this COVID pandemic “.

The cost of hotel rooms is shared by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Newsom said, adding that the new stock of rooms for healthcare workers would not impact an effort. separate to house the homeless in hotel rooms. About 2,000 people sleeping rough or in shelters have moved into hotel rooms since the state launched a resettlement effort last month in response to the pandemic.

Providing discounted hotel rooms for healthcare workers is also helping the hospitality industry, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and government orders for people to stay at home. Occupancy rates are dropping and many hotels are planning to lay workers on leave or to close.

Airlines are also stepping in to help healthcare workers, Newsom said. United Airlines will provide free flights to medical professionals who enroll in California’s Health Corps, a program to expand the health workforce, the governor said, and the state is negotiating with other airlines to provide service. similar.

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