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Harvard Square Hotel Opens Doors to Healthcare Workers, First Responders

The University-owned Harvard Square Hotel has opened its doors to medical workers and first responders as a place to stay near local healthcare facilities as they help fight the coronavirus.
The University-owned Harvard Square Hotel has opened its doors to medical workers and first responders as a place to stay near local healthcare facilities as they help fight the coronavirus. By Courtesy of Brigid O'Rourke
By Jasper G. Goodman, Crimson Staff Writer

The University-owned Harvard Square Hotel has opened its doors to medical workers and first responders as a place to stay near local healthcare facilities as they help fight the novel coronavirus.

The University is offering the hotel — which sits on Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square — to local healthcare provider Cambridge Health Alliance, as well as city police, fire, and emergency medical services as a place for front-line workers to stay.

“We hope these can help alleviate some of the burden and anxiety that those on the front lines of this pandemic are currently facing,” Harvard Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp wrote in an emailed statement.

Harvard Square Hotel has 73 guest bedrooms, the least expensive of which normally sell for $169 per night, according to the hotel website. Cambridge Health Alliance personnel are operating the facility, and the University will continue to provide cleaning services during the day.

“We very much appreciate Harvard’s support for the city’s efforts to confront this crisis,” Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale wrote in a statement. “Having unfettered access to all the rooms at the Harvard Square Hotel will allow our health care workers and first responders a safe place to stay in close proximity to our emergency facilities.”

“It alleviates stress for both our frontline workers and their families during a very anxious time for everyone involved,” he added.

Several Cambridge Health Alliance facilities are within a two-mile radius of the hotel.

The announcement comes as the total number of coronavirus infections in Massachusetts increases by about 16 percent per day. Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker ’79 said Thursday that he expects the hospitalizations due to the virus to peak later this month.

There have been 119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Cambridge since March 6. One city resident has died due from the disease.

Sharing the hotel property is one of several ways Harvard says it is trying to help to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. Some students have called on the University to do more; one petition asks it to use now-empty dorms to house Cambridge residents experiencing homelessness.

“We’ve also offered the use of various lots and open space on our campus — particularly locations that are easily accessible — to help support health care operations,” Lapp wrote.

—Staff writer Jasper G. Goodman can be reached at jasper.goodman@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jasper_Goodman.

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