COVID-19 Impacts I-House Community
March 23, 2020 – International House of New York City learned on Saturday that a resident of our community has died as a result of the COVID-19 virus, according to reports from the person’s family, who have requested us not to disclose the individual’s identity at this time.
We offer our sincerest condolences to the person’s family and friends, and along with them, we mourn this heartbreaking loss to our community. We will be providing more information about this tragic event when we are able to and will honor and commemorate this individual in an appropriate way at a later date.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the second instance of a member of our community testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The first person, a staff member, has not come onto the International House premises since their diagnosis several weeks ago, and is currently recovering at home, without complications.
International House cares deeply about all members of our community, and, in these challenging and uncertain times, we take our responsibility for safeguarding their lives very seriously. We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation as it develops and to take all necessary measures to stem the spread of the virus and protect the health of our residents and staff, with whom we are grateful to share this wonderful community.
For that reason, on March 19th we decided to close down International House South, the larger of our two buildings, which contains numerous communal spaces such as study rooms, lounges and dining facilities. Like a dormitory, it also has shared bathrooms. I-House is currently expediting the process of closing down this building and any remaining residents of the South Building must vacate by March 27th. Our North Building, which has self-contained apartments, has remained open, and some residents have remained.
In addition to closing the South Building, when state and local authorities issued guidance about public gatherings and enforcing social distancing, International House took the following actions:
- We thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the entire complex and have maintained a strict regimen of daily cleaning and disinfection.
- We encouraged remaining South Building residents to leave International House.
- We suspended various communal gatherings.
- We advised residents to adhere to social distancing in accordance with the guidance issued by state and local authorities.
- We waived financial penalties and refunded used room and dining fees.
- We have been providing residents with alternative housing and are continuing to work with universities and other organizations affiliated with residents to help identify safer housing options.
- We have negotiated a very low hotel rate for short-term or long-term stays at off-site lodging, and are making connections with International House alumni who are identifying other short-term lease options.
- We dedicated staff to continue answering questions and assisting all residents so that no one will be left without support on-site or without somewhere to relocate.
- We are operating with only essential staff and have provided them with strict protocols for safety as well as protective gear.
We fully realize and regret the difficulty and disruption these measures have caused to the people in our community, and wish a less disruptive option was equally effective in preventing the virus’s spread.
We will continue to stand with and support our community as we weather the COVID-19 crisis together. Our appreciation goes to the many residents who have already left for helping reduce the population density. And we are grateful for the support and advice of neighboring institutions, government authorities, health professionals, and our hard-working staff during this very difficult time.
The Office of the President
More notices and updates on the impact of COVID-19 on the I-House community are being posted to the COVID-19 page.