RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced during a press briefing Thursday that the city will now offer hotel rooms to COVID-19 positive individuals who are unable to isolate at home.

This is Richmond’s ninth week tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, 20 Richmonders have lost their lives due to COVID-19. There are 888 possible cases of coronavirus in the city.

As testing in the city continues to ramp up, Mayor Stoney said he wants to make sure Richmond is supporting the isolation of those who test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Stoney said research shows that expanding testing, building out contract tracing and supporting isolation will help us go back to normal.

“Test, trace and isolate,” Stoney said, referring to what the city is focusing on.

COVID-19 out

The City of Richmond will be focusing on “Box It In” an enhanced strategy to facilitate isolation and stop the spread of the virus.

Using money from the CARES ACT, Stoney said he is working with Greater Richmond Continuum of Care — ‘a coalition of service providers with expertise in the intersection of physical security and human services due to their charge of aiding those experiencing homelessness’ — to provide hotel rooms for COVID-19 positive people who can’t isolate safely.

“Let me be very clear. This program is for those in specifically for those who cannot isolate,” Stoney said. “This is not a vacation.”

Those who isolate in these hotel rooms will have their basic needs cared for, such as food and COVID-19 related primary care.

Consider Richmond as your family. It is our responsibility — all of this is on us– to take care of one another.”

Mayor Stoney

“I’ve been to homes in parts of Richmond where there are sometimes six, seven people living in a two bedroom apartment throughout the city. That makes it very, very difficult to isolate if you are infected with covid-19​,” the mayor also said.

Wear your mask

Dr. Danny Avula with the Richmond and Henrico Health Department said testing efforts in the city continue to do well.

Next week, the city has four community testing sites including one at Southwood Apartments that will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As we head into “Phase One,” both Stoney and Dr. Avula emphasized the importance of Richmonders wearing their masks.

Dr. Avula said it is very concerning that people are not wearing their masks as the city works to safely reopen. The director said that an outbreak can spread quickly, especially now that people are heading back into the workforce.

“Our goal here is to make sure we don’t have such a spike that our healthcare system is overwhelmed” Dr. Avula said.

“Wearing a mask is one of the most respectful things you can do during this time,” Mayor Stoney said. 

WATCH: Full coronavirus briefing with Mayor Stoney, city officials