Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation looks to hotels to possibly house COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the hotel industry faces an unprecedented drop in demand, many are converting into COVID-19 quarantines for doctors and nurses.

More than 400 Tennessee hotels have signed up to help amid the crisis, through a new program, “Hospitality for Hope.”

In Music City, Butch Spyridon, President and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation is now looking to hotels to house COVID-19 patients, something, he says, would only be used as a last resort.

“We’re a long, long way from that,” Spyridon said. “Hopefully with the precautions we’re taking, we won’t get there.”

But if we do, Spyridon is hopeful Music City will be ready, telling News 2 Wednesday, not a single hotel has told him “no” when it comes to possibly housing patients.

“At least 40-50 [hotels] have responded saying as long as we’re open were willing to work with all of the hospitals.

He did add, many have questions.

“I think for the most part hotels are willing to look at it, trying to understand what’s the remediation what’s the exposure to other guests that may be in the hotel, what’s their liability so it’s getting those questions answered and they’re all fair.”​

While they wait for answers, Spyridon says Nashville hotels are already doing what they can, slashing room rates to as low as $25 a night, either currently helping or prepared to help in the following five categories:

1. Healthcare workers who have been exposed and don’t want to expose their families.

2. Healthcare workers who need to be closer to their work.

3. Family members of those stuck in the hospital battling COVID-19.

4. Patients who are not infected with COVID-19.

5. Patients who are infected with COVD-19.

In addition, 410 Tennessee hotels have said yes to the American Hotel and Lodging Associations new initiate, “Hospitality for Hope,” – which identifies hotel properties that have offered to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers as the COVID-19 public health crisis grows.  While the program will primarily focus on housing for the healthcare community, some hotels could potentially be used as “Alternative Care Sites” such as an emergency hospital or place for those quarantined to stay if needed.

Across the U.S and since the initiative was announced, participation has grown from nearly 6,000 hotels to more than 15,000 properties.

Back here at home, Spyridon says our first line of defense is keeping hospitals under capacity, which we are.

Secondly, Nashville would utilize the Music City Center as a makeshift hospital, with hotel rooms being used as our last resort.

“They just want to be ahead,” Spyridon said, adding he hopes to hear a final answer from hotels by the end of the week and by next week he hopes to find out if our city would need the hotels at all.

Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO said, “It has been so impressive to see hotel after hotel join this important initiative as a way of giving back to the communities in which they operate. As an industry of people taking care of people, the hotel industry is uniquely positioned to support our communities by caring for the first responders who are on the frontlines of this public health crisis. Hotels have always been an active member of our local communities, and this time is no different. We are proud to work to facilitate partnerships with federal, state and local governments to support the health community during this critical time.”

Local, state and federal government officials will be able to search willing properties based on geographic location. (Click here for a state by state breakdown of the number of hotels signed up).

Already, examples of hotels partnering with local and state officials offering housing to doctors, nurses, homeless families and quarantined individual are being reported across the country including in:

“The number of hotels wanting to be part of the program is growing by the hour,” Michael Jacobson, CEO and president of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association said. “Our hotels are answering the call to action, and they want to be helpful to the city and the state.”

“‘Hospitality for Hope’ is just one of the many ways that our hotels are helping those in need in our communities during this time of crisis,” said Kim Sabow, President and CEO of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association. “We look forward to working with all interested parties, including local and state officials, and the federal government to find innovative solutions to make it through this critical time together.”

Hotels interested in joining AHLA’s “Hospitality for Hope” initiative can volunteer HERE.  

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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