UPDATED: Nine students awaiting COVID-19 test results sent to Hayes Street Hotel to quarantine

Vanderbilt reserved 17 rooms for two weeks to be used as quarantine housing, per a hotel employee.

picture+of+blakemore+house+from+the+front

Hallie Williams

Blakemore House, as photographed on Oct. 29, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Hallie Williams)

Charlotte Mauger, Managing Editor

This story has been updated to include a response from the university regarding quarantine housing and COVID-19 cases on campus. 

Nine students were sent to quarantine at Hayes Street Hotel on Sept. 2 while awaiting COVID-19 test results, per a hotel employee with knowledge of the arrangement. One student has since been confirmed negative and left the hotel.

The employee further detailed that Vanderbilt reserved one floor with 17 rooms for a two-week period. Vanderbilt personnel brought the students in individually and took them to their rooms. Sept. 2 was the first night that these students stayed in the hotel, per the employee. 

“[The students] are not allowed to come out once they go to the room,” the employee said. “They get food delivered, but it has to go straight to their room.”

The employee was granted anonymity for protection from retribution. The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment as of Sept 2.

Junior Sahas Goli was one of these nine students. He reported receiving a COVID-19 test at Student Health around 9 a.m. CDT and was subsequently sent to Hayes Street Hotel to await his results. 

“I chose to get tested because [my friend] tested positive,” Goli said. “I woke up, and I was already on edge. And I had a sore throat this morning.”

Goli said he was brought to the hotel via golf cart and told to stay in his room. Consistent with reports from those quarantining on campus, the university provided $50 in GrubHub credit for meals. Goli received a negative result at around 6 p.m. CDT and was able to leave the hotel.

“We’re supposed to know the rest [of the students’ test results] by tomorrow morning,” the hotel employee said.

The employee said the quarantine housing arrangement with the university felt partially “last-minute.” They elaborated that the university has a “partnership” with the Hayes Street Hotel. 

“This was our second time doing the block rooms for them; we did one a couple of months ago,” the employee said. “I’m not sure if it was for the same reason or what reason it was, but they basically came and said they wanted to reserve another block of rooms.”

While the university has not specified their quarantine locations for this semester, multiple students report being sent to Blakemore House to quarantine prior to Sept 2. During the 2020-21 Academic Year, the university allocated Blakemore as a designated quarantine location. Blakemore houses 142 people at full occupancy with a mix of single, double and triple rooms.

The university did not respond to The Hustler’s request for comment regarding the number of students quarantining in Blakemore, the university’s on-campus quarantine capacity or the number of positive cases. 

Per university protocols, individuals who receive a positive test must remain in isolation for ten days. However, quarantine criteria for those named as close contacts is dependent on an individual’s vaccination status. Students named as close contacts who are both vaccinated and asymptomatic are exempt from quarantine but encouraged to get tested. Unvaccinated students named as close contacts are also required to quarantine for ten days. 

“Close contacts who are vaccinated and symptomatic may have to quarantine based on severity of symptoms and specific living situations,” the regulations detail. “This determination will be made by their medical provider in consultation with the Command Center.” 

On Sept. 3 the university commented on their arrangement with Hayes Hotel.

“The university has worked with Hayes Street Hotel to offer additional quarantine housing, as needed, for students awaiting COVID-19 testing results,” a university spokesperson said in an email to The Hustler. “Blakemore is not at capacity. Rather, the university has opened up additional space to make the process for students moving in and out of quarantine more efficient.”

The university also released a “COVID-19 Update” that included the current number of students who have received positive test results. The report specified there have been 69 cases confirmed between Aug. 22-28. Fifty-eight of the 69 were vaccinated students, per the report.

This story will be updated as more information regarding quarantine housing and COVID-19 cases becomes available.