Tulane contact traced students quarantine at the Hyatt

Amy Nankin, News Editor

Starting Aug. 26, Tulane began to send students who have been in close contact with others who tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine at the Hyatt Regency, instead of Paterson Residence Hall. This decision came about after the university received backlash over having Paterson serve as the only quarantine location for both students who had tested positive and those who had been contact traced.

“The Hyatt was chosen as a quarantine location because of their ability to provide a variety of services, including food, and the amount of rooms available for this activity at the hotel,” Brian Johnson, assistant vice president for student affairs, said. “The Hyatt team did an excellent job supporting our arrival center, so we had a high level of confidence in their ability to deliver to our standards.”

Currently, Tulane has 500 rooms reserved for students at the Hyatt. Tulane rents out rooms based on the amount of student need. The Tulane rooms are separate from the rest of the hotel guests.

“As part of quarantine, students are asked to follow guidelines related to remaining in their room, wearing a mask and social distancing,” Johnson said. “Tulane staff are on site at the Hyatt. [Tulane University Police Department] and security staff are there in the evenings monitoring activity in the hotel to ensure compliance.”

Students who are quarantining in the hotel are tested for COVID-19 on the fifth and the 12th day of their quarantine and are moved to Paterson or an off-campus location if they test positive. The lack of frequent testing has been a problem in some situations though, because one person may be positive but will not know until five days in and could be living with someone who tests negative, like in sophomore Amit Jakob’s case. 

“While I understand how hard it is to test every student in the Hyatt, especially as the numbers there are going up, I really believe that I should have been tested upon arrival or at least the day after,” Jakob said. “They allowed me, a positive patient, to stay in the same room as my negative roommate for four nights without being tested.”

Because of the security and safety protocols in place, other hotel guests have not been notified that students are isolating in the hotel, but staff members are aware of the agreement, Johnson said. 

“I think it’s not a concern when the majority of the students there are negative and just need to quarantine due to coming in contact with someone who is positive,” Jakob said. “However, there are cases such as mine, where the student came to the Hyatt positive, but were only tested days into their stay there. I think this is harmful to the workers, guests and other Tulane students at the hotel. For reasons such as these, I believe it is only right to inform the other guests at the hotel of this, or at least not let us check in at the lobby during the same time as other non-Tulane affiliated guests.”

To decrease contact with others, the Hyatt staff provides meals, and Tulane staff provides transportation for the students. 

“The Hyatt food service team delivers individually packaged meals to the door of every Tulane occupied room,” Johnson said. “Students select from a menu developed by the Hyatt that allows them to select from several different options for all three meals. Additionally, the Hyatt team manages individual student dietary concerns. Tulane Campus Shuttles transports students to the Hyatt Regency … If a student needs to leave the Hyatt due to a positive test, they are transported back to campus by TEMS staff in university vehicles.”

The final cost of the Hyatt deal has yet to be decided upon, Johnson said.