Kent mayor ‘more comfortable’ as controversial motel quarantine site spins back up
At the start of the pandemic in March, a quarantine site housed in a former Econo Lodge motel in Kent for King County’s homeless population found itself at the center of frequent controversy. With the site set to operate fully once again, the city’s mayor, Dana Ralph, feels confident that those problems can be avoided this time around.
Issues with the site were brought up from the moment it opened in early March, with Ralph voicing concerns over city officials not being consulted by the county prior to the purchase of the Econo Lodge.
Shortly after it opened, a patient left the motel against the advice of on-site security, allegedly shoplifted items from a nearby convenience store, and then rode a King County Metro bus, which was temporarily taken out of service for cleaning and sanitation.
The site scaled back to “warm status” in the months to follow, and is now spinning back up to house as many as 10 people. This time, Ralph says that communication with county health officials has been much smoother, and that overall, she’s far more optimistic about how the site will be run in the days and weeks ahead.
“That was one of our biggest issues in the very beginning, that we were the last ones to know — we didn’t feel like there was there was good communication at all,” she told KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “I am now getting regular updates … and am grateful that we finally feel like we’ve found sort of a groove.”
“We are definitely more comfortable as we’re going through this reopening,” she added.
This is one of several quarantine facilities King County has operated over the course of the pandemic. Others can be found in Issaquah, White Center, Shoreline, Bellevue, and Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.
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