St. Regis, Wythe Hotel open rooms to medical staff, patients as occupancy plummets

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Pier 94 also eyed as potential treatment sites

From left: Four Seasons Hotel at 57 East 57th Street, Room Mate Grace Hotel at 125 West 45th Street and the St. Regis Hotel at 2 East 55th Street(Credit: Four Seasons; Google Maps; Fashawks8 via Wikipedia)
From left: Four Seasons Hotel at 57 East 57th Street, Room Mate Grace Hotel at 125 West 45th Street and the St. Regis Hotel at 2 East 55th Street (Credit: Four Seasons; Google Maps; Fashawks8 via Wikipedia)

While hotels sit empty due to the coronavirus, some operators are offering up their rooms to medical personnel and non-critical patients.

The Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street, the Room Mate Grace Hotel and the Wythe Hotel have offered free housing for doctors, nurses and other staff, while the St. Regis Hotel, the Palace Hotel and Yotel will be providing space for non-critical care patients, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

While the state touts the efforts of the private sector, New York City is scrambling to find places to house healthcare workers and patients as the number of coronavirus cases tops 21,000 and the death toll approaches 300.

With multiple stay-at-home orders around the country, hotel occupancy has plummeted as low as 15 percent. New York City in particular has been hit hard, with nearly eight in 10 hotel rooms sitting empty, new figures released Wednesday by the hospitality data firm STR show. With so many vacancies, the arrangement may be an especially attractive one for hotel operators — though the state would not comment on if and how the hotels were being compensated.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last Monday indicated the city is already using hotels for quarantine facilities, but it also appears to be sending patients with mild symptoms to hotels rather than keeping them in overcrowded hospitals.

The city is looking at hotels for “individuals with mild symptoms who may need isolation but otherwise does not need hospitalization,” according to a spokesperson for the Office of Emergency Management, and is working with the hotel association and large chains to identify more space.

“The city is working aggressively to identify additional medical surge spaces to expand hospital capacity and create as many additional beds as possible,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “We are considering large spaces that include hotels, warehouses, event spaces and other locations that can be converted into healthcare surge facilities.”

The agency is also eyeing the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and Pier 94 as potential sites for more hospital facilities, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the federal government is reaching out to property owners and brokers to lease empty warehouse space to use as temporary triage centers. As of Thursday, the U.S. had 81,321 confirmed cases of coronavirus — eclipsing China.