Yale to Provide 300 Beds, COVID-19 Testing to Police Officers, Firefighters After Criticism

March 29, 2020 Updated: March 29, 2020

Yale University said that it would provide 300 beds and expedite COVID-19 testing to its home city’s first responders who may have been exposed to the virus.

The move came after New Haven, Connecticut, Mayor Justin Elicker criticized Yale for declining to make a residence hall available to the city’s police officers and firefighters. Elicker said during a Friday online press conference that the Ivy League school turned down the mayor’s request because “all of the residence hall rooms on campus are filled with student belongings.”

“Our student rooms still contain their belongings, but we have teams planning the feasibility of packing and storing all the student belongings so that the rooms could be utilized,” Yale responded in a statement, reported New Haven Register. “We are pursuing schemes that involve professional movers and packers, and using temporary storage. The process will take weeks, as all of the residence hall rooms on campus are filled with student belongings.”

Elicker then called on the University of New Haven (UNH) to support the city in those efforts. Steve Kaplan, president of the university, quickly accepted the request.

“UNH has rolled out the red carpet for us. They have worked to quickly get students’ belongings out of the dorms, and they are working with us to address other logistical and liability hurdles,” Elicker said. “We are quite close to finalizing an agreement with them so that our police officers and firefighters can begin moving into the space in the coming days.”

Yale president Peter Salovey announced Saturday afternoon that the residence hall and expedited testing are now ready for New Haven’s first responders.

“Yesterday, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker expressed frustration with Yale University’s lack of a swift positive response to his request for the university to provide housing for first responders to COVID-19,” Salovey said in a statement. “We are eager to help New Haven with this need. We have been working to make this possible—and we agree that we should move as quickly as we can.”

He also emphasized that Yale is raising a $5 million fund to help address the fallout of the pandemic in New Haven.

“Now more than ever, Yale and City Hall need to be on the same page,” he said. “I know how committed all of us across the city and the university are to implementing an effective response to COVID-19, and I will do all I can to support this shared work.”

As of Saturday, Connecticut’s health department reported over 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state. New Haven county, where Yale University is located, has 236 cases and 6 deaths.