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With free rooms, Newport hotel safeguards first responders isolating from their families

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Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 23:41:01-04

NEWPORT, Ky. — For those working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, going home to family after potentially being exposed to COVID-19 can be a dangerous prospect.

“Everyone is experiencing some real-world problems trying to take care of their families, trying to cope with these changes that we’re going through,” said Newport Police Chief Paul Kunkel.

That’s why Hampton Inn and Suites in Newport began offering free rooms to the city’s first responders so they can distance themselves from their families if need be.

“This gives them a sense of relief,” Kunkel said. “They have an option.”

This offer includes EMT, fire personnel, police and city workers who may come in contact with the virus while working, according to the hotel’s vice president of operations Varlarie Orr.

Orr said there is no time limit or room limit for first responders who “feel that they need to social distance a little bit wider from their families after being possibly exposed to this virus.”

“They’re always the first ones here, they never leave us behind,” Orr said. “They always make us a priority and we wanted them to be a priority as well.”

Because of recent travel restrictions, Orr said the hotel went from about 90% occupancy rate to 10%, meaning there is plenty of space for first responders to “give back to the communities that really support them.”

This gesture is just for those for those living and serving in Newport, but hotel owner Shaun Pan challenges other hotels to step up and do the same for the first responders in their neighborhood.

Kunkel said Pan’s gesture just shows the types of business owners in the Newport community.

“There’s 122 rooms and most of them are empty,” Kunkel said. “[Pan is] thinking about what he can do, instead of what he needs to do.

"This hotel is there for the people that have direct contact… you can’t ask for more," he said.

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