Phoenix hotel that provides help for homeless people with COVID-19 overwhelmed with cases

While Phoenix's hospitals are bursting at the seams, so is a local hotel that houses the homeless infected with COVID-19.

Life hasn't been easy for Lovia Primous. The 67-year-old veteran lost several friends and family members, including his brother, to COVID-19. And just a few months ago, he suffered a stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed.

He lost his job, then his house, and began living in his car.

"Prior to [going into the] shelter you have to have chest X-rays for [tuberculosis] and you have to be checked for COVID, and they said my test for COVID came back positive."

A positive test meant he couldn't stay at the shelter. That's when he learned about the Extend-a-Suites Hotel, a hotel leased by Maricopa County and run by Circle the City, that provides shelter and healthcare for homeless battling COVID-19. 

"To be able to come here and sleep and take a hot shower and possibly have a hot meal at least once a day," Primous said.

The Extend-a-Suites hotel has been operating since the beginning of the pandemic. In the fall of 2021, the hotel only had a handful of COVID-19 patients. By Christmas, that number had jumped to 25 people, and on Saturday, Jan. 8, nearly 100 people are checked in at that hotel near Interstate 17 and Northern Avenue.

"We have had to go out and aggressively hire staff, bump up our staff, our hands who are serving at the COVID hotel. [We have to] make sure we have enough staff on hand to meet the needs," said Marty Hames, the communication director for Circle the City.

So that people like Primous can have a safe place to heal.

"I'd just like to thank them. I thank God for them. Make it much easier and maybe one day I can pass it forward. That's how I look at life. My cup is runneth over with joy and love, I never dreamed I'd be in this place."

Many of the homeless people they are helping now are already vaccinated, according to Circle the City. Primous does not have a severe case of COVID-19, but he needed a place to stay while he was not allowed in the shelter.

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