King County announced that it will be purchasing the Econo Lodge in Kent and turning it into a quarantine facility for the coronavirus, and the City of Kent is very upset.
This hotel is located at 1233 Central Ave N. (map below).
There are no known cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Kent as of Wednesday.
The city says it was first alerted to this issue by a third party late on Monday, Mar. 2, and claims it was not consulted or notified – at all – by the county.
Mayor Dana Ralph said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mar. 4, 2020, that Public Health – Seattle and King County “has been looking at this site for months, with the intent for using it for public health purposes, including homelessness and as a site for quarantines for other communicable diseases.”
“We are concerned that the coronavirus is simply a pretext for the siting of a longterm quarantine facility here in Kent,” Ralph said.
Ralph added that the county plans to move patients into this facility within 9-10 days, but still has not inquired with the city about permits or occupancy of the building.
“I am very concerned about the public health and safety implications this has for our community,” she said. “They are replicating and bringing a facility similar in scale to the Life Care Center in Kirkland and dropping it in our community. We have asked numerous questions that they have no answer for.”
“This has not been a transparent process,” she said, adding that she thinks the county will put this property back on the market once the coronavirus crisis is over.
“This location is in the middle of one of our main gateways into the city of Kent. We have invested millions of dollars into the infrastructure around this location, and now visitors and residents will be greeted by a public health quarantine facility,” Ralph said. “The county intends to bring sick people from wealthier and less diverse communities and drop them off in Kent without regard to our community or the people in it.”
Ralph encourages all residents who have questions about this new facility to call the county at (206) 477-3977.
Other city officials spoke at the conference, which was held in council chambers.
“I took an oath to protect our community, which is why I cannot support this ill advised and dangerous plan by King County,” Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla said.
Padilla added that this new site will be a voluntary intake facility, which means patients could come and go as they please.
“It will not be a secure location,” Padilla said.
“As a City Councilmember, I am deeply disappointed by the action of the county,” Councilmember Bill Boyce said. “This will only cripple our growth, it feels wrong -– wrong to me, that the county put the only large permanent site not next to the majority of the coronavirus outbreak, but instead put it in the heart of one of the most diverse commmunities and shipping patients to Kent without any regards to our community. We expect the county to respect all residents, including the residents of Kent.”
Below is raw video of the city’s press conference:
The Econo Lodge is located at 1233 Central Ave N.: