AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council approved on consent Thursday an extension of the city’s emergency use of a northwest Austin hotel for COVID-19 isolation services. Currently, 39 guests are isolating at the hotel following the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed diagnoses, out of 84 total rooms available.
Under Thursday’s approved extension, the city committed to paying for an additional one-month term, with stipulations in place to allow for up to four one-month term extensions. This latest extension goes into effect Jan. 29 and lasts 31 days, unless otherwise lengthened under the four one-month term extensions available.
As part of that agreement, the city committed to paying a minimum cost of nearly $964,000. If extended for additional monthly terms, council capped the total contract amount at $1.9 million.
“The health of Austin and Travis County residents and visitors is our highest priority. Our public health officials are taking appropriate actions to ensure the health and safety of our community,” officials said in city documents. “Due to the increasing number of Omicron cases recently, the facility is filling up with individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and require a place to isolate.”
Austin City Council first approved its contract with the northwest Austin hotel in Nov. 2020 with a lease length of 60 days. That contract was updated two subsequent times in April and Sept. 2021, before Thursday’s extension.
Funding for the leasing agreement comes from the city’s fiscal year 2021-22 general fund emergency reserve fund, per city documents.
The Austin-Travis County COVID-19 isolation facility is open to anyone who doesn’t have a safe place to isolate and meets one of the following stipulations:
- Unvaccinated person in need of isolation due to COVID-19 exposure
- People with symptoms “consistent with COVID-19” but have not yet been tested
- People with symptoms who are waiting on test results
- People who have tested positive for COVID-19
Isolation services are primarily offered to people who aren’t able to social distance in their own homes due to shared rooms or dorm-style living situations; are living with a high risk individual and cannot maintain social distancing or quarantining; live in a group home or communal-style living situation; or who are experiencing homelessness.
The following accommodations are provided to residents staying in the isolation facility:
- Hygiene products
- Personal protective equipment
- WiFi, Television, in-room telephone
- Limited social services
- Some over-the-counter medications
Guests are required to stay in their rooms and cannot bring any pets or visitors into the facility. Emergency medical teams, security and staff are present on-site.