A Kearny Mesa hotel turned into a federal quarantine site for passengers who were aboard the Grand Princess Cruise ship and later flown to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar.
Nine passengers who were aboard the vessel and tested positive for COVID-19 are now housed at the Ramada by Wyndham San Diego North Hotel as they do not need hospitalization, the Health and Human Services Agency said.
The hotel's sign has been taken down temporarily.
The 151-room hotel, which sits on five acres of open land located near major freeways in Kearny Mesa, “has been recognized by the government as one of the safest sites in the community because of its location, security and established protocols to support COVID-19 quarantine individuals,” the hotel said in a release.
It was chosen because of its proximity to MCAS Miramar, the presence of multiple separated buildings that will be categorized as "red" and "green" and because it has individual HVAC units in each room as opposed to a central source.
Individuals heading to the hotel have undergone medical screenings and show only mild or no symptoms and will be tested and continuously monitored for the virus, Ramada said.
Individuals who are asymptomatic and are transferred to Ramada will be out of quarantine seven days after their first test. Individuals who are symptomatic will be released seven days after their illness began and at least three days after they had a fever.
As of March 16, the hotel has been completely secured from the public with strong law enforcement presence, Ramada said.
The Federal Government Health & Human Services and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services are managing operations at the hotel with support from the county’s Emergency Operations Center.
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“We all have a humanitarian responsibility to assist during this health crisis,” said Maurice Correia, who has owned the hotel for 25 years. “These Coronavirus individuals being housed at our hotel are not sick enough for hospital care and need to go someplace to be monitored through the incubation process. We are working with Government authorities to do everything we can to help and protect our citizenry from further exposure.”
Initially hesitant to agree to the site, Correia ultimately gave the OK to have the Ramada used for quarantined passengers under the condition that his staff continues to be paid while they are out of work. He told NBC 7 that at first, he was concerned about how the hotel would be perceived.
"What people would think of the property after everyone left but it’s not about that," Correia said. "Once you start thinking about it, it’s about just doing your part.”
“It was the right thing to do and I’m glad I did it," he told NBC 7. "These are different times. Sometimes you have to take different actions and so we did that. I’m glad I did it."
In addition, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said on March 18, that 1,472 motel rooms are available for individuals who've tested positive but don't have the ability to isolate at home. This may include homeless individuals, a senior citizen in a living facility or a person who lives in a one-room apartment with others.
There was no information if when the federal quarantined individuals are released if the Ramada will transform into a site for local quarantine individuals.