Airbnb partners with LA County to offer free stays for health care workers

(Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Airbnb announced Friday it will work with Los Angeles County and its health care workers union to offer free accommodations to frontline hospital staff fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

The partnership allows staff at county medical centers, including Harbor-UCLA, County/USC, Olive View and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, and other frontline responders at public and private hospitals across the state to book accommodations allowing them to be close to
their patients and remain safely distanced from their families.

The Airbnb Frontline Stays program also allows Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West members -- including licensed vocational nurses, environmental services workers, technicians, therapists, transporters and others -- to book stays throughout California,
according to the online peer-to-peer lodging service.

The $1.5 million commitment from Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky will support the program, the company said.

"The courage and resilience of frontline responders who are risking their lives to protect our communities is inspiring,'' Chesky said. "We are grateful to our hosts across California who have stepped up to offer thousands of places to stay for these heroes. We are also deeply appreciative for the leadership of L.A. County local officials and members of SEIU-UHW who are working with us to ensure front line responders have a comfortable place they can call home while they help fight this unprecedented crisis.''

Health care workers can book stays on the Airbnb platform and HotelTonight site in coordination with the county Department of Health Services and SEIU-UHW.

"Los Angeles County's health care workers are on the front line every day, caring for the sickest members of our communities and saving lives,'' Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. "Undoubtedly, it's stressful for them to leave work and risk potentially exposing their own family members to this brutal
virus. I'm grateful to Airbnb for their generous donation that will provide our health care heroes much-needed relief with a safe, comfortable place to rest.''

Since last month, when Airbnb announced the Frontline Stays program, the company's global community of hosts have offered more than 140,000 places to stay for those responding to the pandemic, Airbnb said. Through the program, health care staff and other first responders can
book eligible and available stays in 160 countries and regions around the world, Airbnb said.

"These are extremely trying times for health care workers who are committed to serving our COVID-19 patients but also need to keep themselves and their families safe,'' said SEIU-UHW Vice President Stan Lyles. "Having a comfortable place to stay to avoid infecting the people they love is huge, and
the members of SEIU-UHW are appreciative to have this support.''

RELATED:, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates. 

Dr. Christina R. Ghaly, director of the county Department of Health Services, said the county's public hospitals ``are one of the first lines of defense against the ravages of COVID-19 illness, and it's our dedicated teams of health workers who are on the front lines every day.''

"When the private sector and government sectors unite to combat challenges, these are the types of solutions that result -- inspiring our collective resolve to help the helpers and sustain the county's health system for all who need it.''

Accommodation for relief and medical workers, who have higher exposure to COVID-19, requires robust preventive practices and stringent safety standards. Airbnb has worked with experts and officials to develop a protocol, incorporating guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for hosts supporting the effort, the company said.

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