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Phoenix quarantine hotel for COVID-19 patients who are homeless is filling quickly

COVID-19 cases are soaring across Arizona. And a Phoenix health care organization that serves homeless populations is noting a steep rise in demand. 

"We are filling up rapidly," said Marty Hames, a spokesperson for Circle the City. 

Throughout the pandemic, Circle the City has been providing medical care to COVID-19-positive homeless individuals quarantining in a vacant hotel on lease to Maricopa County. Hames said a few months ago, the organization had actually moved into a smaller hotel because the number of patients needing to quarantine had dwindled to single-digits. By mid-December, the nonprofit returned to a larger space. On Christmas day, Hames said, there were 25 people quarantined in the hotel. Two weeks later, occupancy has more than tripled, with 78 people in quarantine as of Friday morning. 

"A lot of different facilities are directing patients who are homeless to us," Hames said. “People who are testing positives in emergency rooms in hospitals and are homeless and have nowhere to go, people in shelters, congregate living facilities that are testing positive and have nowhere else to go.” 

Circle the City's quarantine hotel does still have rooms available. But Hames said the organization needs to hire more staff quickly, since they expect COVID-19 cases will continue to soar.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.