New York’s beleaguered hotel industry is getting drafted to help out in the disease outbreak that threatens its very survival.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has plans to take over as many as 10,000 hotel rooms, college dormitories and other spaces in New York for medical services as the number of coronavirus hospitalizations rises exponentially, the Wall Street Journal reported.
With hotels practically empty — the 1,878-room Hilton Midtown is completely shut down — the city’s hospitality business has been hammered by the virus-driven halt in tourism, events and conventions. The drop-off for hotels is worse than after 9/11 or during the 2008 financial crisis, operators say.
Dorms across the city are also largely empty, after students were sent packing when the schools moved to online-only instruction. In an email, NYU asked dorm residents to clean out their belongings by Sunday because “there are significant indications that the state” will fill the rooms with hospital beds.
The Army Corps would contract with any hotels, colleges and possibly even empty sports arenas, Army Corps Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite said at a briefing.
“We would then take the building over in a period of an exceptionally short amount of days, and we would go in and turn this into an ICU-like facility,” he said.
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