Durham hotel will be used to quarantine offenders being released from prison

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A Durham hotel will be used to quarantine those being released from prison. It’s part of a pilot program.

The state is renting out the entire hotel, the Quality Inn & Suites on Hillsborough Road for three months.

Nawaid Ahmad, the General Manager of the hotel, said he welcomes the opportunity. It will fill his hotel with people who’ve served their time behind bars and were exposed to COVID-19 in prison.

“The most important thing is to keep the people who are coming here to stay safe, to keep our staff both ways, not infecting the people and not getting infected and to prevent outsiders from coming in,” Ahmad said.

The Department of Public Safety is behind the pilot program. “This short-term housing option would enable these individuals to quarantine following CDC guidelines prior to returning to their home community,” DPS wrote in response to an email seeking more information on the program.

It will be one former inmate to a room. The hotel has 114 rooms in all.

“They’ll set up a test facility here in the meeting room and they’ll test the people. Then they will release them to us and we’ll assign a room, those people will stay in the room. They’re not allowed to go outside or mingle with outsiders that come to visit them,” Ahmad said.

He explained food will be brought to them. DPS said probation officers will provide security.

“They have to be quarantined somewhere,” one neighbor said.

“This is a weird world we’re living in now but I think now that they have two weeks to figure it out. I think its a good idea, one for them, second for public health,” Heather Lavin, a neighbor said.

As for the Quality Inn & Suites, Ahmad said they’re at about 40 percent occupancy right now. The business has been uncertain at best.

“It will basically be a work in progress, we have to see are we benefiting the community as well as our business and the state,” he went on to say.

DPS said the cost of the program is $1 million. They explained FEMA would reimburse them for 75 percent as part of the CARES Act.

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