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Guests from hot zones must quarantine, county says

The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and other hotels and motels come under tight restrictions on room rentals. The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and other hotels and motels come under tight restrictions on room rentals.

Aiming to prevent the import of the coronavirus into the county from hot spots around the country, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners is restricting the lodging industry’s ability to rent rooms.

Hotels, motels and B&Bs may take no new reservations at all and guests from known “hot beds” of infection must self-quarantine for the length of their stay up to 14 days, commissioners ordered today in adopting a second supplement to the emergency order the county first imposed on March 14.
Commissioners directed Public Health Director Steve Smith to notify every hotel, motel and B&B of the new order in a written statement spelling out guidance for enforcement and directed hotel staff to give each guest a written statement of the rules.

Commissioners said they wanted hoteliers to have the ability to deny guests a room if they are from a COVID-19 hot zone like New York City but were unsure whether that would be discriminatory.
“You’re discriminating against the virus,” Chairman Grady Hawkins said. “If you come here and you’re going to stay here you need to self-quarantine for 14 days.” The board is asking the lodging industry to “help us enforce it.”
County Manager Steve Wyatt said the order is intended to protect Henderson County residents.
“The first (reason) is to stop the spread of the virus from hot spots,” he said. The second is “to preserve the medical capacity of our community. We feel for folks in other areas but as we found out last week. you have X amount of capacity in the community and that may well be needed for folks that are living here as citizens of Henderson County. An influx of folks (from hot zones) could adversely impact your capacity.”
The order notes that South Carolina, Florida and Texas have imposed quarantine periods on travelers from various “hot-beds” of COVID-19. For now, the county’s order identifies areas “with substantial community spread” as the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) and the metropolitan areas of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Visitors from those areas “shall isolate or self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the county or the duration of the individual’s presence in the County, whichever period is shorter,” the order says.
The order authorizes Wyatt to add County Manager to add regions, cities and states that are later deemed to be areas of “substantial community spread.”
The order exempts people employed by Essential Businesses and Operations. Anyone required by the order to isolate or self-quarantine is responsible for costs associated with such isolation or self-quarantine, including transportation, lodging, food, and medical care.
The order is effective at noon Wednesday and remains in force until it’s rescinded.

In an update on the COVID-19 situation in general, Smith told commissioners the county is up to 18 confirmed cases, triple the number on Friday. Five are in long-term care facilities. Although that is "certainly of grave concern to us," he said, the nursing facilities "are being very cooperative with us in enhancing their protocols." In testing, "we’re really focusing on high risk groups, health care personnel and nursing homes." The fact that the county does not have the ability to conduct widespread testing "doesn’t mean we don’t have community transmission.”

About 30 tests are pending a result currently, Smith said.

"I’m concerned about having enough test kits available and how many peo we’ve got that are sympomatic and haven’t been tested," Commissioner Bill Lapsley said.

Smith said he is on a daily call with Pardee physicians to monitor the supply of test kits.

“The folks that the doctors are saying need to be tested, they’re being tested,” Wyatt said.