O.C.’s use of Ayres Hotel as COVID-19 center for homeless has Laguna Woods officials ‘deeply concerned’

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An agreement reached between Orange County and Ayres Hotels to provide housing and medical care for homeless individuals who have contracted, or who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, has Laguna Woods city officials concerned.

More than 80% of the city’s residents are over age 65 and are already at high risk of contracting the virus, Laguna Woods Mayor Noel Hatch stated in a news release Wednesday.

“The City is deeply concerned with the County of Orange’s unilateral decision to place individuals afflicted with COVID-19 right in the middle of the most concentrated community of older adults in Orange County,” Hatch said.

The decision to use the 138-bed Ayres Hotel located at 24341 El Toro Road was made without the input of city officials, who are now asking the Orange County Board of Supervisors to revisit the plan.

Laguna Woods officials are worried that visitors or staff entering and exiting the hotel will spread the virus to the surrounding community.

“The County’s decision jeopardizes the good work of Laguna Woods residents who have followed every guideline and precaution to stay safe and self-isolate,” Laguna Woods Mayor Pro Tem Shari L. Horne stated.

The news release states that those staying at the hotel will only be allowed to leave for scheduled appointments.

Ayres Hotels confirmed the hotel’s arrangement earlier this week in a news release, which stated the lease with the Orange County Health Agency would start on April 1, and would continue on a month-to-month basis.

County CEO Frank Kim said Gov. Newsom issued an order to identify locations to help lower the amount of people within homeless shelters, the Orange County Register reported. Kim added that additional sites within the county are being discussed.

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