March 20, 2020 – Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis today joined Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Fairplex President/CEO Miguel Santana, Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval, and L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer to announce that L.A. County has entered into an agreement with Fairplex to use the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel as temporary housing for individuals who may have been ordered to isolate or quarantine by the Department of Public Health due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Our overwhelmed health care system will not be able to admit every person with mild symptoms of COVID-19. As we contain the spread of this virus, we need quarantine sites where people can receive care and heal,” Supervisor Solis said. “The Fairplex and the Sheraton have responded to this emergency with courage and compassion by providing LA County residents who may have been exposed to COVID-19 a safe space where they can recuperate and recover. This partnership is an example of state, county, and local leaders coming together to keep our communities safe and healthy. LA County stands in solidarity with the Fairplex as we work together to limit the rate of infection.”
The Sheraton Fairplex, a 244-room hotel, is located on the Pomona campus of Fairplex, home of the Los Angeles County Fair. Fairplex owns the hotel; Marriott International manages it as the owner of the Sheraton Hotel chain. The agreement calls for the hotel to be used by the County from March 23 to May 31, with the potential for a four-week extension. This is a part of a larger effort under way to seek out supportive housing facilities throughout the County. The Sheraton Fairplex is the first in the County to have the entire hotel contracted out to the County for COVID-19 assistance.
Santana said this may be the most important community service role Fairplex has played in its 98-year history.
“Fairplex is offering its unwavering support to Los Angeles County for its plan to provide regional accommodations for individuals who must be separated from their loved ones who have been medically directed to self-isolate,” Santana said. “While this is just one element of a much broader effort at all levels of our community to help slow the spread of COVID-19, it goes to the core of what Fairplex is all about: supporting, even preserving community. And never is this more important than when the threat is greatest and we all feel challenged to think of our own needs first. Stepping outside that perspective and focusing on the broader benefit is what it means to be a community, and I’m proud of the role we will play.”
Mayor Sandoval agreed with Santana.
“This is about helping our neighbors, our families, our community. This is what Pomona does, this is what we’ve always done,” Sandoval said. “Pomona is a city with compassion.”
In addition, the Fairplex Child Development Center will open its doors to the children of health care workers and first responders. Hospital personnel and law enforcement will be provided with childcare. Fairplex is currently working with Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center to assist its staff.
President and CEO of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Richard Yochum said this service will be an “immense help.”
“Many of our dedicated hospital associates are being pulled in competing directions – protecting public health and arranging childcare for their children who are home from school, so that they can care for our community. Childcare near the hospital will alleviate a tremendous strain on them,” Yochum said. “And having the hotel beds available for medically quarantined individuals will free up hospital capacity for our most critically ill – cancer, heart, stroke and trauma patients – as well as those who may become seriously ill from COVID-19.”
Today’s action is part of LA County’s commitment to comply with the County Department of Public Health’s guidelines to minimize the risk of transmission. While hotel rooms will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, the Office of Emergency Management said it will assist in housing individuals who have been medically quarantined in close proximity to their home, making the Sheraton Fairplex an option for eastern San Gabriel Valley residents facing isolation over COVID-19 concerns.
“Our County is committed to supporting our residents during this pandemic. Our mission is aligned with the County’s commitment to provide service to the most vulnerable in a caring and supportive way. A clear example of this is the supportive housing solution we’ve developed by leveraging important partnerships – like today’s agreement with the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel,” said Kevin McGowan, the director of LA County’s Office of Emergency Management. “We must show compassionate care, reject the urge to focus only on ourselves, and provide for those that have been impacted by this virus. We urge others in the business community to step forward and work with the County on similar temporary housing solutions across the region.”
This partnership comes a day after Safer at Home Orders were issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom, LA County, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. The County’s order called for retail stores not considered essential to close. This includes malls and shopping centers. Both the County and City orders went into effect at early morning March 20 and will last through April 19. The County order bans gatherings of 10 or more people, with few exceptions.
“I want to thank the Fairplex and the Sheraton for stepping up and helping us in our efforts to mitigate this virus,” said Supervisor Barger. “The proposed quarantine site will help keep our communities safe as we continue to increase our efforts to practice social distancing.”
Public health officials will determine who will be referred to the Fairplex for quarantine.
“Social distancing remains the best and most effective tool to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “As every County department is responding to this pandemic, it is encouraging to see local partners such as the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel step up to do what they can to protect residents. This effort will likely take several months, so every single one of us must remember that we are all in this together and we must all do our part.”
Today’s announcement is a collaboration between state, county and local officials, along with the Marriott.
“Marriott International is working directly with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services to make some of our properties available to support California’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19,” said Allison Sitch, vice president of public relations for Marriott International. “We recognize these are unprecedented times that require different actions and solutions. We intend on cooperating with the Governor on the state’s response.”
Santana acknowledged that there will be some push back on the decision.
“Sadly, some may criticize the plan as inappropriate for our neighborhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, it is representative of all that is good about our community,” he added.
Fairplex also is working with the nonprofit La Verne-based food bank Sowing Seeds for Life to operate a drive-thru food pantry in the Fairplex parking lot off Gate 15 on the La Verne side of the campus. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every first and third Wednesday of the month starting April 1. ID will be required. The pantry will be available to all residents of LA County.
To learn more about the County’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, visit lacounty.gov/covid19/.