LAGUNA WOODS (CBSLA) — Ayres Hotels in Orange County will begin to house older homeless people who test positive for coronavirus or show symptoms.
Orange County officials entered into an agreement Thursday with the hotel chain to quickly move people indoors comes amid fears that an outbreak in the vulnerable population could strain an already fragile healthcare system.
“We weighed the decision very thoughtfully and decided our community would be better served by Ayres providing our buildings to help Orange County mitigate this current health crisis,” the hotels’ owner said in a statement.
The move is part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $150 million plan to shelter older homeless people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Residents at Laguna Woods Village, one of the biggest retirement communities in the state, expressed concern about the fact that the hotel just feet from them will soon house these sick patients.
“There are 18,000 seniors living here, and they want to put homeless people that are not only sick but might have the virus,” said resident Rona Fiedler. “Do they want to just kill everybody in this community?”
Ayres doors are already closed to the public. Laguna Woods Village Mayor Noel Hatch said he plans to fight the plans and try to keep the hotel’s doors closed to all for now.
“Eighty percent of the people in my backyard are between 65 and older,” he said. “We are all, including me, part of this class that the whole country is supposed to be protecting, because we’re the greatest at risk.”