Miami setting up ‘COVID isolation’ hotels, hotel rooms

Hotels converted to isolation centers an effort stop communal spread

MIAMI, Fla. – Piggybacking on an announcement he made Monday, Miami Mayor Francis Suárez said there will be hundreds of hotel rooms that will be adapted to house coronavirus patients in isolation centers.

Suarez said his administration is working with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “I just confirmed last night with (Jared Moscowitz, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management) that they are renting a hotel for 350 rooms in the city of Miami.”

Currently, selection of who would placed in the isolation rooms would be through the hospital system.

Suárez would like to reform the criteria system.

“One is that if you are symptomatic and you get tested. If that creates too much of a demand, the other would be that you are symptomatic, you got tested and are waiting for results, and there’s a vulnerable person in your home,” said Suárez.

Data from contract tracers shows, according to Suárez , is that 30.9 percent of people who get COVID-19 are reporting that they believe they got sick at home, while 37.7 percent are reporting that they are getting sick from a family member. The isolation rooms would work to keep symptomatic family members apart so they would not spread the virus.

With the Thursday announcement by Miami’s mayor, that puts the total number of isolation hotel rooms at 450 in the city. They are still in the development phase for what exactly the criteria will be for those who will be placed in those hotel rooms.

At a Wednesday meeting with the League of Cities and almost two dozen mayors from the County’s 34 cities, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami’s mayor discussed expanding the program to serve multigenerational households where grandparents and parents can be at higher risk from a younger member testing positive.

“This is a critical step to stop the spread of the virus in multi-generational households, especially for families that do not have sufficient room for a family member to isolate from others,” Gimenez said. “I want to thank Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz for their partnership and swift action to make a hotel available as we continue to take measures to tamp down the spread of COVID-19.”

The County’s existing program pays for hotel rooms for individuals recommended by the state Department of Health who have received hospital care and are released to go home but still need to isolate for a number of days. The expansion of the program will also help families with a member who has tested positive for the virus but does not necessarily have symptoms, though that person can still spread the virus to family members.

Miami-Dade County residents who need temporary hotel rooms to isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic are asked to call a new “help line” for assistance. The number to call is 305-614-1716 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local