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Hillsborough County to open quarantine site at two hotels in Tampa

The site will be available to patients who can’t stay at home.

Hillsborough County will open a quarantine and isolation site at 10 a.m. Thursday to house individuals who are able to care for themselves but unable to stay in their homes.

The site, two adjoining hotels the county is leasing, is for individuals who may have contracted the coronavirus and want to isolate away from family members to keep them healthy. It would also be a solution for single people who live with roommates.

The sites will allow residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus to receive shelter, food, telemedicine support and basic services including laundry and sanitation.

The length of time patients will stay at the hotels will depend on the Florida Department of Health which, along with Hillsborough County government, will oversee the facilities.

The sites are intended to help limit the spread of the virus.

The two sites are the Quality Inn & Conference Center at 2701 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa, and West Wing Hotel at 2501 E. Fowler Ave. The sole entrance for those using the sites will be the Quality Inn.

In all, the two hotels will provide 362 rooms. The county signed a six-month lease with both hotels to provide shelter and services for quarantined individuals.

In addition to providing services for sick residents, the county’s lease also preserved 111 jobs for hotel workers. It’s not clear how the county plans to protect workers from being infected by temporary residents at the hotels.

When the quarantine and isolation sites are no longer needed, both hotels will undergo medical-grade cleaning and sanitation.

So far, Hillsborough County has had 309 positive cases of COVID-19 reported, a number that is likely to continue to rise steeply as health officials continue to ramp up testing. The county facilitated more testing at the Raymond James drive-thru site this week after securing an additional 1,500 tests from the state. Those tests are only available for residents showing symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath, with priority going to individuals who have traveled to known hot spots or who have had contact with someone who already tested positive.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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