After two years, the isolation hotel program has come to a close. Hotels provided a safe place to isolate or quarantine for over 33,000 New Yorkers and visitors to New York City. The program’s work has contributed greatly to Test & Trace’s commitment to helping all New Yorkers isolate safely.
One of the most common risk factors for the transmission of COVID-19 is living in a household with multiple individuals. The infectious period in a positive case is the greatest starting about two days before symptom onset and continuing to the following week. Even if a case is asymptomatic and does not show any symptoms, it is critical that prevention measures are met when exposure is suspected as soon as possible.
Sometimes, New Yorkers who tested positive or who have been exposed may deem it too high of a risk to stay at home while they are isolating. Maybe they live with someone who is more susceptible to serious illness, such as an elderly individual, someone who is immunocompromised, or someone who is not yet vaccinated. Other times, someone may not live in an environment they feel comfortable isolating in.
Following prevention guidelines such as wearing a well-fitted mask around others, maintaining social distancing, using separate rooms or bathrooms, and practicing good hand hygiene, are all fantastic methods to keep others safe. To help those who liked to consider other means of keeping their families and friends safe, the NYC Test & Trace Corps provided resources that ensured that anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts could separate at a Take Care Hotel free of charge.
Take Care hotels and services
The Take Care hotel program provided safe, comfortable, and convenient places to separate. Hotels had comprehensive services—including roundtrip transportation to and from a hotel and any necessary medical appointments, onsite testing and vaccination, wellness checks, social work services, three meals a day, medication delivery and telehealth/psychiatry—to support New Yorker’s recovery or prevention of exposure to COVID-19 in a safe and supportive environment.
Just like if you were traveling and needed a place to stay, you were given a private and clean hotel room with all the amenities you needed. Guests stayed at a participating NYC hotel, and in addition to room and board, they also had access to other free services.
If a case or contact lived in a household with more than one person or shared a room with someone, they were encouraged to consider safely separating in a hotel. Staying in a Take Care hotel was an effective option for those who decided to do so, and they could stay for free for up to 10 days.
Universally safe and successful outcomes were thanks to the dedicated, compassionate work of multidisciplinary teams of onsite physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, and administrate and environmental services workers, who closely monitored guests’ conditions and supported their needs throughout their stay.
From the time that the program began on June 1st, 2020 through March 5th, 2022, Take Care Hotels hosted thousands of guests who safely separated.
During December 2021 and January 2022, when the omicron surge was at its peak in NYC, the program took on over 3,000 guests. This helped to free up households that had been exposed to the extremely contagious omicron variant and slow the spread.
As the shape of the pandemic changed, the Take Care hotels program grew and expanded. New services were added to better fit needs. These included vaccination, quality treatments, monitoring, and remote behavioral health services.
All throughout February 2022, a number of important onsite services reached hundreds of hotel guests:
- Number of people tested for COVID: 577
- Number of vaccinations: 460
- Monoclonal antibody treatments (referred from the hotel to H+H sites): 186
The impact of the Take Care hotel program is unique. NYC is the only jurisdiction in the United States that has ever offered a free isolation program for cases and close contacts. Take Care hotels have served thousands of people, and patients never suffered an adverse outcome.
The program began before the approval of the vaccines that prevent COVID-19 transmission and before antiviral treatments that work to reduce severe illness. Through these available tools, the City has seen cases remain low and, in turn, hotel volume remained low.
Now, the legacy of the Take Care hotel program serves as a model for other innovative ways to develop existing modes of quarantine and isolation that cater to patient experiences to improve their healthcare delivery.
Test & Trace continues to offer a range of services, including resource navigation, Take Care packages, and emergency food delivery, along with AfterCare to support those with Long COVID. Take Care services such as free food delivery, take care packages, antiviral oral pill delivery, and connections to monoclonal antibody treatments will continue to be available.
New Yorkers can connect directly with a navigator at 212-540-6923.