Entering a hotel room

The health department and other agencies have been working to secure blocks of rooms at area hotels to use as housing alternatives for people who need to quarantine away from their household members and others.

RALEIGH — AppHealthCare has been working collectively with local partners to secure blocks of rooms at area hotels to use as housing alternatives for people who need to quarantine away from their household members and others — a program that received FEMA approval on April 8.

“These rooms at area hotels would be used to house someone for a variety of reasons, including people who may reside in a congregate living facility, and the need to quarantine them away from others in order to prevent the spread of infection will be very important,” said Melissa Bracey, AppHealthCare spokesperson.

Appalachian State University will provide meal support for these individuals, and Watauga Rescue Squad and Watauga Medics will provide transportation, Bracey said. AppHealthCare also noted the “great support” offered by local law enforcement officials across the municipalities and Watauga County.

“We are appreciative of the hotels who are willing to provide temporary housing and know this will benefit the public’s health and protect our community from the spread of COVID-19,” Bracey said. “We are appreciative of these agencies, in addition to local law enforcement for their ongoing partnership throughout this planning process.”

Gov. Roy Cooper announced on April 8 that North Carolina has received approval from FEMA to provide housing alternatives, such as hotels, motels and dormitories, for North Carolinians with unstable housing who may need to quarantine in response to or are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“North Carolinians without stable housing still need places to go if they are have a mild case of COVID-19 or need to quarantine after being exposed to the virus,” Cooper said in a statement. “These types of alternatives will help people who have no other safe options to self-isolate or social distance while we slow the spread of this virus.”

The state will work with local partners to provide more than 16,500 units of individual housing in dormitories, hotels, trailers or other facilities to:

  • People who test positive for COVID-19 and need to be isolated but do not require hospitalization, including those discharged from hospitals;
  • People exposed to COVID-19 and identified by a health care professional as needing quarantine but do not hospitalization; and
  • People needing social distancing as a precautionary measure, as determined by public health officials, particularly for high-risk groups such as people over 65 or with certain underlying health conditions such as respiratory illness, compromised immunities or chronic disease. This may include those whose living situation makes them unable to adhere to social distancing guidance.

The federal government through FEMA will pay 75 percent of the costs associated with operating the non-congregate sheltering program, the governor’s office stated. North Carolina will pay the remaining 25 percent. Funding includes the cost of all supporting infrastructure, such as electricity and waste disposal, as well as other services such as laundry, food, cleaning and security.

The hospitality industry and other private-sector partners will be critical in facilitating the non-congregate sheltering program, the governor’s office stated. Businesses such as hotels, motels, colleges, universities and other large-scale facilities that may be able to serve as non-congregate facilities can email BEOC@ncdps.gov.

As of March 26, all lodging, short-term rentals and other fee-based overnight accommodations for a period of less than 30 days have been prohibited by the state of emergency declaration in Watauga County, including at hotels and motels.

To learn more about North Carolina’s response to COVID-19, visit ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

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