Houston leases additional 400 hotel rooms for first responder quarantine

The $48,000 deal with the Cambria Hotel in downtown Houston will provide up to 400 rooms over the course of the month. (Screenshot via Google Earth)
The $48,000 deal with the Cambria Hotel in downtown Houston will provide up to 400 rooms over the course of the month. (Screenshot via Google Earth)

The $48,000 deal with the Cambria Hotel in downtown Houston will provide up to 400 rooms over the course of the month. (Screenshot via Google Earth)

Houston City Council approved a lease for an additional 400 hotel rooms for use as quarantine sites by first responders April 8.

The $48,000 deal brokered with the Cambria Hotel in downtown Houston provides up to 400 rooms over the course of the month, or an average of 13 rooms per day.

In addition to applicable taxes, the agreement includes rooms provided at $60 per night plus a $40 per room meal package and $7 per room parking pass.

Houston City Council approved two other hotel leases April 1 and amended one April 8 to add an extension option at an increased rate. The two other leases provide a total of 186 rooms daily at rates between $50 and $60 per room. Government disaster declarations may allow the city to recoup losses from lease payments, city documents show.

One of the two original leases provides rooms specifically for homeless residents in need of quarantine sites, and the other provides rooms for municipal workers and first responders, Mayor Sylvester Turner told council April 1.

Among the three leases, Houston has committed about $360,000 toward quarantine sites and will have about 200 rooms available on any given day.

Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said the department had 220 firefighters in quarantine as of April 7, and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he has 125 employees in quarantine. These numbers include those who choose to quarantine at home.

"Our firefighters are doing OK, but in general there are concerns. There are concerns that they will take this back to their families," Peña told reporters April 7.

Quarantine sites are not the only temporary shelters popping up in the city. Earlier in the week, construction of a medical shelter began at NRG Stadium to serve as an overflow medical care site if area hospitals experience a surge.

The county committed up to $60 million for the 500-bed site April 7. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she secured confirmation that the federal government will reimburse the county for up to 75% of the costs of opening and operating it.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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