Hotels fill up as medical workers descend on El Paso to help with COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Local hotels are seeing a spike in bookings and many of those checking in are medical workers.

Some medical workers who travel from outside of El Paso are booking rooms to help local hospitals with COVID-19 patients, but are also doing their part to ensure everyone around them is safe, especially in the hotels at which they stay.

“Our industry was probably hit the hardest,” El Paso Hotel and Lodging Association President Marco Ortega said the hotel industry was struggling at the start of the pandemic and was running on single-digit occupancy.

“We had hotels that had one or two reservations for an entire month and that was really scary for us,” Ortega said. “Now, business has picked up a lot with different precautionary measures that airports have taken, the companies have taken for their employees traveling.”

Within the last two months, Ortega said the overall hotel occupancy in El Paso has ranged between 60 percent to 70 percent, adding that some bookings have spiked due to the traveling medical workers who are helping local hospitals.

“It could be a health and human services company, it can be individual nurses that call our hotels, but for the most part they’ll call and say, ‘Hey we need 20 rooms for a 90-day period.’ They tell us what they’re here for, what they’re going to be doing, and their budgets,” Ortega explained.

While hotels are implementing safety precautions for guests, Ortega said the traveling medical workers do their own part to keep the hotels safe.

“They are very upfront with us. They tell us, ‘Hey we don’t want anyone coming into our rooms cleaning the rooms. We’ll take care of our own cleanliness.’ They take their own precautionary measures,” Ortega said. “The biggest one is that it’s very rare that they use the elevators, they normally come in through the side doors and go up the stairs. They normally, for the most part, inform us (the leadership team) so that we can tell the staff to stay away from that room.”

Ortega added that, luckily, there hasn’t been an outbreak or any cases at the hotels because of the precautionary measures both hotel staff and medical workers have been taking.

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