The GUARDIAN has confirmed that Boise City is funding sanitizing services and renting rooms for members of the homeless community at the Red Lion Downtowner.
An unofficial source told us the entire second floor and about 46 rooms were occupied by homeless residents. That source also inquired at the registration desk about the situation, but their questions were basically dodged.
A city spokesperson told us, “We are also paying for the rooms, but are submitting the incurred costs to the State for reimbursement via the CARES Act. This is a plan we’ve had in place from the beginning to provide the necessary medical care to our most vulnerable community members and ensure the safety of all residents amidst the pandemic.”
First responders were sent a city memo last Thursday advising them of at least one positive COVID test at the Downtowner and warning them to take appropriate precautions responding to calls at the hotel.
Meanwhile, we got this evasive response from the Central District Health District on Friday despite the alert sent to city first responders. “CDH is not able to confirm whether a homeless community member was ill at the Red Lion Hotel. I can tell you that to date there has not been a public exposure associated with a person living homeless in our jurisdiction.”
The message from CDH went on to say, ” However, from a public notification standpoint, if someone were to test positive for COVID and were staying at a hotel, that alone does not constitute a public exposure or need for a widespread notice. When, through contact tracing, we identify people who were exposed by someone infected with COVID-19 (we use CDC’s guidance to determine exposures), there are a number of communication channels we or an impacted business might use – a widespread public notice is typically only used when we don’t have a way to directly communicate with each person that the ill individual interacted with while infectious.”
Today the IDAHO PRESS reports 11 members of the homeless community have tested positive and none are at the Interfaith Sanctuary. We suspect they may have been at the Red Lion Downtowner, but the location of the COVID outbreak was not disclosed.
When we began investigating this story there was only a single report of a positive COVID test. We questioned hospitality and travel providers about the moral and ethical duty to inform patrons of homeless and potential health hazards. All of them said it would be wrong to not inform guests of the potential hazards. It now appears that at least 11 people have tested positive.
We don’t have any answers to the pandemic, but felt compelled to make the facts known to the public.
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