Chicago will start renting more than 1,000 of its empty hotel rooms to house coronavirus patients or those awaiting test results

Chicago will rent more than 1,000 empty hotel rooms as housing for those affected by the coronavirus, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a press conference[1] on March 23.

The rooms are intended to free up space in hospitals for patients in need of critical care.

“Beginning today, individuals who either have a COVID-19 diagnosis or who are awaiting test results, but who cannot safely return home and do not need hospital care can be transferred to downtown hotels rented by the City of Chicago,” the Mayor’s Press Office wrote in a release[2]. “This will ensure these individuals do not put unnecessary strain on local hospitals and healthcare workers and will free up beds needed for more seriously ill patients.”

The first hotel joining the housing program, as detailed by the press release, is Hotel One Sixty Six[3], a boutique hotel on Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile.

Occupants of the hotel rooms will be referred by the Chicago Department of Public Health, Ryan Ori and Lori Rackl reported[4] for the Chicago Tribune. The city will cover the cost of the hotel rooms as well as three meals a day and plans to seek reimbursement from the federal government, among other sources, they said.

According to the press release, hotel workers will be “properly trained” and will not directly interact with guests.

Last week, Illinois, along with California and New York, became one of the first states in the US to issue a stay-at-home order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The order went into effect[5] on March 20 and will remain in place through April 7.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on which additional Chicago hotels will be part of the patient housing program. 

Chicago is not the first city to look for alternative housing to relieve the burden on hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak. New York City’s Javits Center is set to become a 1,000-room field hospital as early as next week[6], and Florida cities including Miami and Orlando have instituted mobile testing sites[7].

1 2 3