Last week, a New York Times article put the spotlight on the travel industry’s efforts to tamp down the spread of coronavirus, with airports — including Chicago O’Hare and Chicago Midway, Los Angeles International, Tampa, Newark, and Minneapolis-St. Paul — offering rapid coronavirus testing centers.
The article also noted that Disneyland is now a COVID-19 vaccination site, joining convention centers around the country and the world that have swung into action by becoming mass vaccination sites — from the Javits Convention Center in New York City on the East Coast to the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California on the West Coast and across the pond at ExCeL London.
Now hotels also are stepping up to do their part to combat the virus. Last week, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) sent the Biden Administration transition team, CDC, HHS, NGA, Operation Warp Speed, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors a letter offering hotel properties as vaccine administration sites across the country.
The letter from Chip Rogers, ALHI president and CEO, spells out why hotels are uniquely positioned to help with the vaccine rollout, including geographic reach — there are more than 50,000 hotels in each state, located in cities, suburbs, and rural areas.
Hotels also have a variety of rooms that can allow for social distancing — private rooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, ballrooms, and outside areas, as well as ample parking — and are set up for 24/7 operations. In addition, Rogers said, the hospitality industry has adopted enhanced cleaning initiatives to ensure the safety of guests during this public health crisis. The majority of hotels also have refrigeration capabilities for vaccine storage.
“With the next phases of vaccination distribution underway, hotels have the unique capability to help provide additional locations to assist with the administration of the vaccine,” Rogers wrote in the letter. “As an industry, we have always stepped up to help our neighbors and communities in a time of need, including early-on in the pandemic through Hospitality for Hope,” an initiative that identified more than 20,000 hotels willing to provide temporary housing for emergency and health-care workers during the health crisis. “The industry looks forward to continuing this work in partnership with the public and private sector to support this next phase of recovery.”
Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.