The city of Philadelphia is closing its COVID Isolation and Quarantine Hotel on Saturday after two years of operation.
The hotel was used to provide housing and meals to the homeless population, Afghan refugees, and others who could not safely isolate or quarantine.
The need has declined to the point where the city feels comfortable closing the hotel service. While in use the hotel served more than 2,400 people, with each staying, on average, more than eight days, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said in a statement.
“To be able to provide safe spaces for our most vulnerable residents has been one of the more challenging but most rewarding parts of the Health Department’s response to the COVID pandemic,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, in the statement.
“I want to thank every person who has contributed to this effort, including our staff, our partners, and every Philadelphian who donated items to ensure that our guests were well taken care of,” she said.
Volunteers took time to sort an overwhelming amount of donations from the public, including clothing and toys for children.
The isolation and quarantine hotel opened on March 30, 2020. It was first located at Holiday Inn Express Midtown-Philadelphia and later moved to the Rodeway Inn where it remained.
In addition to shelter, more than 118,000 meals were served, with care taken to provide food specifically crafted to meet the medical and cultural needs of the people they served, including meals for those with diabetes, meals to excite and interest children, and meals tailored to the tastes of Afghan refugee guests.
The service was not without drama. There was a fire on Nov. 11, 2020, and isolation and quarantine staff evacuated the 24 guests in the hotel at the time.
The need is not completely gone, so services will continue, just not at a hotel. Isolation and quarantine space for Philadelphians who do not have homes will be provided at the City’s Office of Homeless Services COVID-19 Recovery and Isolation Site.
In another COVID-related service, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has also been publishing a monthly newsletter, “Bounce Back Philly Creative Corner.” It is geared to people in isolation for COVID-19. Each issue includes inspiring personal stories, original artwork, creative writing, recipes, games, and tips for self-care. The March issue has tips for how to make your own escape room.