Mo. State COVID-case downturn leads to ending lease with Q Hotel

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 7:04 PM CDT
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Confirmed cases of coronavirus have dropped off substantially at Missouri State University so that the school no longer needs to use a local hotel to house students who’ve tested positive.

The “Q” in The Q Hotel & Suites stood for “quarantine” when Missouri State announced in August that it was leasing the then-closed 120-room building next to Hammons Field as a place to house students who contracted COVID-19.

Actually, the hotel on St. Louis Street was used as an isolation location for those who had the virus while near-by Kentwood Hall was used to quarantine those who had come in contact with COVID patients.

At its peak on August 31 the university was housing 122 students in either quarantine or isolation.

Now that number is 10.

The hotel never housed more than 16 students.

The total number of confirmed COVID cases has also gone down as the fall semester has progressed, reaching a high of 383 the week of August 30th and going to a low of 26 the week of October 11th.

This past week the total was 31.

So after spending $478,000 from the federal government’s CARES Act to lease the Q Hotel out of concern that it would need hundreds of rooms for COVID-related issues, the university decided there was no reason to renew the lease that lapsed in mid-October.

“Just because the federal government is providing funds that you can have access to, there’s no use in spending those funds for something you really don’t need," explained David Hall, Missouri State’s Director of Safety. "So if we can be more efficient with it, that’s what we did.”

That efficiency includes continuing to use Kentwood Hall plus having smaller apartments available if needed at a lesser cost than the hotel. Those options have space for 136 students and the school also has access to 59 other beds on an as-needed basis with the ability to expand more if necessary.

Hall said officials are pleased with how students are responding to the health crisis, pointing out that the early spike in cases came mainly from the influx of out-of-town and out-of-state students coming from other hot spots.

“We really weren’t seeing evidence of spread from them going to large parties although that did happen on occasion,” Hall said. “Everybody also started realizing the implications because if you’re not careful about who you’re around you’ll end up not going to class for 14 days. And the majority of our students preferred seated classes and wanted to make sure they could stay in class throughout the semester.”

At a media briefing on Tuesday Katie Towns, the Assistant Director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, lauded the efforts of Missouri State to bring its COVID numbers down.

“MSU has had a phenomenal response to having an increase in disease happen quickly and then providing the tools and mitigation techniques to get things under control. We give them a lot of credit for the work that they’ve done.”

Hall said while the downward trend is encouraging it doesn’t mean the battle is won and that with students having just returned from fall break where many of them were back home, the days ahead may also see a surge in cases.

“The next couple of weeks will be a good indicator of what the levels will be for the rest of the semester," he said. I’m certainly concerned about that. However, our data is showing that we’re running much lower than the community around us which is surprising.”

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