Quarantine Hotels reported as successful

Negative guest reviews tell another story

by Katelynn Robinson and Catlan Nguyen

The San Diego State Institute for Public Health released a review of San Diego county’s COVID-19 Hotels where it was determined they helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 however, the staff were under trained and the residents felt under served. 

The county’s COVID-19 Non-Congregate Emergency Shelter Program was implemented in March 2020 in four hotels, primarily at Crowne Plaza in Mission Valley, and was designed to “mitigate community spread” of the coronavirus by isolating and quarantining individuals who tested positive for the virus or were exposed to it.

The COVID-19 Hotels were provided with the goal of isolating those who tested positive for the virus and had nowhere to go and to protect those who could develop severe illnesses from the virus. The hotels were available to the public and to those who experienced homelessness, according to an SDSU report.

“The San Diego State University Institute for Public Health recently completed a months-long evaluation of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Public Health Hotel Program,” a statement from the SDSU Institute of Public Health said. “With the goal to provide data and information with transparency, the review included broad interview access with HHSA staff,  management and contractors, and access to all requested documentation.”

Reports from various news stations including CBS8 have gathered testimonies of people stating they were repeatedly served food they were allergic to and they did not get the medicines they needed.

“It is important to note that programs, like the HHSA public health hotel initiative, are not ubiquitous,” the statement said. “Most jurisdictions lack such forward-thinking programming for their communities’ most vulnerable residents. To clarify: There were, and are, no widely accepted best practices for this specific type of program.”

SDSU’s Institute of Public Health completed a 154-page evaluation. According to this report, the initial program had a 100 percent success rate in preventing a COVID-19 outbreak in the program, a 93 percent success rate of guests staying the recommended amount of time and a “high percentage of positive guest satisfaction surveys.”

However, detailed guest interviews in the evaluation described the atmosphere and treatment received from the staff. 

Guests who left negative reviews reported that deliveries took 45 minutes to two hours if items made it to their rooms at all. The interviews stated there was not enough food and no extra water. Guests reported extra sheets and cleaning supplies for the room were not available. Nor were additional COVID-19 tests, according to the guest interview section of the report. 

“It is our view as evaluators and public health professionals that the program continues to have an overall positive impact in our community,” the SDSU statement said. “And the metrics are in line with or exceed that of similar programs across the country. While there are areas for improvement, our findings must be contextualized by the environment of the ongoing public health emergency.”

The COVID-19 emergency shelter program is expected to run through December 2021.

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