Journalists photograph a room at an Econo Lodge motel in Kent, Wash., Wednesday, March 4, 2020. King County Executive Dow Constantine said Wednesday that the county had purchased the 85-bed motel south of Seattle to house patients for recovery and isolation due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

COVID-19: Seattle-area officials buy $4 million ‘quarantine’ motel

Not everyone is putting out the welcome mat

Hard surfaces, easy-to-clean floors and separate heating-and-cooling units in each room: The amenities offered by the suburban EconoLodge motel may not be fancy, but they were just what Seattle-area officials say they were looking for in a quarantine facility for coronavirus patients.

Officials in King County, which is dealing with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, announced this week that it is buying the motel for $4 million. The deal is expected to close on Friday and officials hope to have the first patients in within days.

But not everyone is putting out the welcome mat.

ALSO READ: ‘Very concerning’ — Travellers from Iran asked to self-isolate as COVID-19 cases increase

The EconoLodge is a two-story, 84-room motel just off a state highway in Kent, about 20 miles (32 km) south of Seattle. The rooms’ doors open to the outside, rather than to a central hallway, reducing the likelihood of contact between the patients. The individual heating-and-cooling units reduce the chance of germs spreading through a ventilation system.

“Maybe you’re a patient who is out of the hospital, out of the active treatment phase, but you have someone who is high-risk, elderly or a pregnant spouse at home, so you can’t go there — this would be a place for someone like that,” said county spokesman Chase Gallagher. “The other category would be maybe someone who is homeless and can’t go to a shelter.”

The motel is part of the efforts officials are taking in an epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. There have been 70 confirmed cases in Washington state, most of them in the greater Seattle area, where researchers say the virus was apparently circulating undetected for weeks. Ten people have died — most of them residents of Life Care Center, a nursing home in the suburb of Kirkland.

Officials are also setting up isolation units in trailers on public parking lots or other land.

ALSO READ: B.C. senior in critical condition after contracting COVID-19

But the county’s plan for the motel has drawn opposition from local leaders. Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said officials didn’t notify her about their intent, and that while the city has spent money and time to improve its appearance, visitors and residents will now be greeted by a quarantine facility as they enter town.

“We are concerned the coronavirus is simply a pretext for the siting of a long-term quarantine facility here in Kent,” Ralph said at a news conference Wednesday. “They are replicating and bringing a situation similar in scale to the Life Care Center of Kirkland and dropping it off in the middle of Kent.”

She called it an “equity issue” that patients from wealthier, less-diverse parts of the county would be brought to Kent.

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla called it an “ill-advised and dangerous plan.” He said the patients would be under a voluntary quarantine: “At any point a patient can simply walk into our community and spread the virus.”

He called on the county to ensure that it had the security presence and authority to keep people in the motel if necessary.

Gallagher said he wasn’t sure it was true that the patients would be allowed to leave whenever they wanted, but he acknowledged that questions remained about how the facility will operate.

“This is moving very quickly,” he said.

Gene Johnson, The Associated Press

ALSO READ: COVID-19 — Six handwashing mistakes to avoid

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Petition opposed to supportive housing unit on Dogwood circulating

UPDATE: City-owned property meets the needs of such a facility, including being within a community neighbourhood

Campbell River Storm re-signs member of leadership core

Few possible scenarios emerge for upcoming VIJHL schedule

Nanwakolas charity golf event raises more than $40K for Indigenous NIC students

Funds were raised during 2019 event at Storey Creek Golf Club

North Island College launches virtual orientation

New and returning North Island College students are being welcomed to the… Continue reading

Tidemark Theatre gets ready to roll out summer camp

The summer theatre camp will be held from August 17-28 and participants can opt for on-site or virtual modules

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 year

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Most Read