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February 10, 2021 –
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The COVID-19 pandemic has turned many institutional and commercial facilities inside out and upside down. Convention centers have become field hospitals. Hotels have offered their empty facilities as long-term offices. Now, as vaccines roll out for distribution nationwide, many areas of the tourism industry are offering their facilities.
With hotels at record-low occupancy, some airports running on skeleton crews and fairgrounds emptied of guests, many domestic travel companies and operators have begun donating their resources and newly vacant spaces to help get the pandemic under control, according to The New York Times. Among them:
• Disneyland has been shuttered since mid-March, but a section of its Toy Story parking lot was full recently as emergency medical workers and residents over 75 queued for the first of five Orange County, Calif., “Super POD” (Point Of Dispensing) sites.
• Inside many airport terminals, XpresSpa has pivoted from offering airport massages and manicures to rapid coronavirus tests.
• Monterey Bay Aquarium, closed since March, recently lent one of its ultracold freezers to a hospital in nearby Salinas. the freezer can maintain temperatures of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which are required to safely store some coronavirus vaccines.
• The State Fair of West Virginia signed an agreement with the Greenbrier County Health Department in spring 2020, pledging the use of its facilities for testing, vaccination and even a surge hospital, if needed. Their grounds have since been the site for three free drive-through testing clinics, and are now operating as a vaccination center for local residents.
Dan Hounsell is editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.