Hotels Seek to Boost COVID Vaccine Rollout
In an effort to speed the process of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, the hotel industry is offering its services to the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, sent a letter to the transition team detailing why hotels are well-positioned to assist the effort. Among the compelling arguments:
- With 50,000 properties across the country, the hotel industry has the geographic reach to touch all Americans.
- Hotels have available private rooms, meeting spaces, ballrooms, outdoor venues and more to administer shots without mingling with guests.
- Properties already operate on a 24-hour schedule, a far larger timeframe than typical pharmacies and doctors’ offices.
- Hotels have been using extensive cleaning protocols for months while continuing to welcome travelers and other guests during the pandemic.
- Many hotels have large parking lots and are located on or nearby highways and/or major thoroughfares, making them easily accessible.
- Kitchen areas have extensive refrigeration capabilities to ensure safe storage of vaccines.
“As an industry, we have always stepped up to help our neighbors and communities in a time of need,” Rogers said in a statement. “The industry looks forward to continuing this work in partnership with the public and private sector to support this next phase of recovery.”
Last year, AHLA organized its “Hospitality for Hope” plan that located more than 20,000 hotels able to provide lodging for emergency and healthcare workers during the health crisis.
“The initiative identified a total combined 2.3 million rooms located in close proximity to established healthcare facilities for frontline workers to use as they worked around the clock to save lives and provide lodging for those exposed to COVID to quarantine safely,” Rogers noted.
Many business sectors, including group business, are counting on efficient vaccine distribution to open up the U.S. economy. Meetings and events, in particular, need attendees to feel comfortable and remain safe to start organizing the large gatherings many of us are accustomed to. That confidence will boost not only attendance, but also provide a needed boost to airlines and other transportation services, hotels, catering services and other elements associated with hospitality.
Convention centers, including Javits Center in New York City, and sports stadiums like Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, are already serving as vaccination centers. Increasing the number of venues capable of hosting large numbers of people eager for shots while still maintaining social distance should only speed up the recovery process.
“Accelerating the distribution of vaccines is the key to getting travel back to normal,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association in a statement. “Travel will play a vital role in America’s economic recovery in the months ahead.”
President-elect Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion recovery plan last week ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration. The package includes greater direct stimulus checks to eligible individuals—adding to the $600 payments approved as part of a package passed in December. It also aims to assist with unemployment benefits, assistance to small businesses and a higher minimum wage, among other elements.
Said Dow: “We are grateful to President-elect Biden for his focus on combating the virus and providing relief to America’s hard-hit industries.”