Tulane contracts Jung Hotel for students with COVID-19

Gabby Abrams, News Editor

Following an uptick in COVID-19 cases after Halloween, Tulane contracted with the Jung Hotel to house students who have tested positive for the virus. The Jung Hotel, located on Canal Street in the Central Business District, is occupied by 60 Tulane students and has a capacity for 158 more as of Wednesday night. 

Tulane is still using its other two isolation locations, Paterson Hall and the Hyatt Regency, to house students. Paterson Hall is used for students in isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test and has 76 students as of Wednesday. The Hyatt is for those quarantining due to being considered a close contact, having been within six feet of someone who tested positive for 15 minutes or more. 183 students are quarantining there as of Nov. 10. 

Sophomore Jessie Lehman tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, Nov. 7 and is currently isolating in the Jung Hotel. 

“I was called by my contact tracer to let me know that I tested positive, and she said that I could either go to the Jung Hotel where they were now placing people because I think Paterson had filled up at that point, or I could make my own accommodations,” Lehman said. 

Lehman chose to stay at the Jung Hotel because it was free and she is the only one of her friends who has tested positive for the virus thus far. Nurses and hotel staff members care for Lehman and other COVID-19 patients, delivering their meals to their door three times a day. 

“We are checked on by nurses several times a day — always once in the morning and once at night,” Lehman said. “They take your temperature and see if you need anything, and then yesterday and today I was also checked on once during the middle of the day just to see if I had any new symptoms or needed anything. And we are also given the nurse on duty’s phone number so we can text or call if we need medicine or need medical attention.” 

Unlike students quarantining in the Hyatt, students at the Jung Hotel are not given any “outside time.” However, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. they are allowed to go on short walks around the fourth floor hallway, where most Tulane students are residing, with a mask on. In order to avoid exposure to nurses and other staff members, students are told to keep their walks brief, if at all. 

Tulane Executive Director of Public Relations Mike Strecker is confident that using the Jung Hotel as an additional area of isolation will help reduce COVID-19 cases for the remainder of the semester. 

“The recent uptick in COVID-19 cases following Hurricane Zeta and Halloween made it necessary that Tulane enact one of a variety of contingency plans — in place since before the beginning of the semester — to increase its capacity to isolate students who had tested positive for COVID-19,” Strecker said. “In response to this rise in cases, we have also greatly increased the frequency with which we test students and are already seeing encouraging signs that the increase in cases is leveling off. Through increased isolating space and stepped up testing efforts, we believe we can control further spread and, as a result, we will see our positivity rate return to its previous low levels — which were below the positivity rate for the city and state throughout the semester.”

Update Nov. 12: Students were initially allowed out on limited walks while quarantining at the Jung hotel but are now confined to their rooms, according to an email sent to students at 6:15 p.m. on Nov. 11.

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