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Kent to reopen motel quarantine center as hospitals are overwhelmed with surging cases

The Econo Lodge in Kent will be reopening as a quarantine and isolation center for those exposed to coronavirus and have no place to go.

KENT, Wash. — On Monday, King County officials will reopen the Econo Lodge motel in Kent as a quarantine and isolation center as concerns over hospitals being overwhelmed grow along with positive cases of the virus.

About 80 rooms will be available for those who either have or have been exposed to the virus but have nowhere to go. The motel is located at 1233 Central Ave. North.

When the county first bought the motel in March, Mayor Dana Ralph said she and other city leaders were surprised by and criticized the county’s lack of communication.

“Everybody was really unsure about what was going on,” Ralph said,"... It really turned into issues around a plan and security, and what it meant, what an isolation and quarantine facility was whether people would come there and stay there, how they would get back to where they came from, all of those kinds of things," Ralph said. 

In one instance, someone was caught on camera walking off-site to a nearby store.

“The county has assured us that they're staffed better. So they're spending more upfront time with folks that are being brought in,” Ralph said.

Now, the county and the city have an agreement with terms that include better staffing and security and more outreach to ensure those who are at the facility stay there. 

Ralph said the county also agreed to stop using the motel once Gov. Jay Inslee lifts his emergency order on the pandemic, and she’s working with nearby business owners who were concerned about crime.

“Just letting them know and asking them to keep an eye out if there is activity that is occurring that you know, we think probably shouldn't be," Ralph said.

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