HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said around 130 rooms will be added as temporary lodging in Waikiki for people who tested positive for COVID-19. He said the units could be helpful for people who live in crowded conditions or first responders.
Mayor Caldwell said under the agreement with the hotel they will not disclose its name or location.
In April, the City and County of Honolulu partnered with the Department of Health to open a quarantine facility on Kaaahi St. for homeless people exposed to the virus. The facility has quarantined 150 people since it opened, with 19 currently in isolation.
The new agreement with the hotel increases the city’s isolation capacity to more than 300 rooms.
Caldwell said, “We have, last Friday, retained an entire hotel with hundreds of rooms to quarantine folks in that are either positive or come in close contact with positives, including first responders who stand with us here today.”
Deputy Health Director Edward Mersereau said state staff and contractors will provide surrounding services to those in quarantine.
“In general the hotel staff will be taking a backseat to all of the interactions with people that are staying in the hotel that have COVID,” Mersereau said. “Our staff and our contractors will be doing most of the interaction.”
Honolulu Councilmember Tommy Waters, who represents Waikiki, said he is in favor of the program and that it could actually benefit some residents. Although he does plan to double check safety measures.
“I’ve heard stories of people quarantining in their car and to me that’s way more than quarantining in a hotel room,” Waters said. “I want to make sure wrap-around services also include making sure these folks are not leaving their hotel rooms and hotels and walking the streets.”
The state’s COVID-19 joint information center said the 300 rooms will be used to quarantine non-medical and low-medical acuity patients.