As West Virginia begins reopening business following the COVID-19 outbreak, our Governor has instituted some questionably requirements for hotels/motels/Airbnb/VBRO/Bed and breakfasts. This is my letter to him regarding his requirements of me as host.
Governor Jim JusticeSenate
House Speaker Hanshaw
I am writing to you to voice my objection to Governor Justice’s requirements for Airbnb/VRBO hosts under the “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” steps slated for implementation May 21, 2020. I ask that you consider my perspective and reach out to him to correct this requirement to report out-of-state guests simply because they are not from West Virginia. My comments below are a duplicate of what I sent through the Governor’s web portal, as no direct email address could be located for him.
According to the PDF posted ” Lodging providers include properties such as hotels, motels, condo hotels, rental properties, Airbnb/VRBO style lodging, and cabins” are required to complete “Screening and tracing forms: Out-of-state guests over the age of 18 must complete a screening and tracing form. If guests are of the same family, one form can be submitted per family. Forms must be completed and submitted to the county health department within 24 hotels. Electronic submission of forms is recommended. Guests who do not pass the screen questions cannot be permitted to check-in.”
Ignoring the fact that as of this date, May 13, 2020, the required forms have not been developed by the health department, and also ignoring the recent WV Public Broadcasting report that local health departments cannot manage the anticipated volume of submissions I must protest simply on the grounds that I as a host am not prepared to handle the confidential personal medical information I am required to collect, process, distribute, and secure.
What happens if the transmission does not go through? Who is going to help if a guests sues me when I refuse to honor their reservation because they choose not to complete the form? Am I going to be required to change insurance coverage because of the potential for and unintentional violation of a privacy act? Do I now have to purchase HIPPA compliant software to transmit this information? How long am I required to maintain the information on previous guests?
Unlike the well known Airbnb host Jim Strawn, who recently was subject of a brief television interview on the effects of the Corona Virus on his basement rental, I am a traditional Airbnb home-share host. Since 2017, I have shared a room in my home with people traveling through our state. They eat at my table, sleep in my upstairs guestroom, and we interact from their arrival to their departure. I’ve hosted people from nine countries. I’ve had a cellist practice in my kitchen, and chatted into the wee morning hours with a grad-student discussing the history of the coal mine wars in the area. Photographers, grad-students, Buddhists, Yoga instructors, parents, grandparents, orchestral musicians, and even Rastafarians have come into my home as they traveled through our wonderful state.
Screening, tracing, and reporting of guests is not my responsibility. It is the responsibility of the individual who is ill and should be done at the point they seek treatment. I am asking potential guests not to come if they have any symptoms. Anything else is between the individual and their medical professionals.
I look forward to hearing from you.