2 Beverly Hills hotels using coronavirus-fighting robots to keep guests safe

A recent study found the robot killed 99.99% of the virus that causes COVID-19 in two minutes by using high-intensity, high-energy light.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020
2 Beverly Hills hotels are using robots to fight COVID-19
The Beverly Hilton and its sister property Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills are using germ-zapping robots to keep travelers safe during the pandemic.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- At the Beverly Hilton and its sister property Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, the last person in your hotel room before you check-in isn't human. Instead, it's the XENEX light strike robot.

The disinfecting machines are used at over 600 hospitals, but are new to hospitality thanks to COVID-19. The two Los Angeles hotels have purchased three, which haven't replaced housekeeping staff.

"We're opening all the drawers. We're putting the remote, the iPad and other devices face up, the phone, taking it off the hook," said David Alagem, an executive with the Beverly Hilton and Waldorf Astoria. "Then, we're running it a second time where we're closing the doors, so that's where somebody touched the front of the door now and the backside of the remote, the backside of the iPad, the other side of the phone."

A recent study found the robot was able to kill 99.99% of the virus that causes COVID-19 in two minutes at close range, using electricity to put out a high-intensity, high-energy light.

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"We're familiar with UV-A and UV-B from the sunlight, this is UV-C. It has even more energy," said Mark Stibich, the founder of XENEX who produced the robot. "And because it doesn't naturally occur on Earth, the bacteria, the viruses, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID, doesn't have any defenses from it. What it does is it penetrates those organisms and it mucks up their DNA, mucks up their RNA, mucks up their genetic materials so they can't replicate. They can't create an infection."

Hotels like the Beverly Hilton and Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills hope their increased cleanliness procedures make guests feel their hotel rooms are just as clean, if not cleaner than their own homes.

COVID-19 has crippled the hotel industry and left thousands of hotel rooms across Southern California empty, even causing some hotels to pause operations.

Alagem says they've stayed open and expanded their cleanliness procedures, even producing their own disinfectant and cleaning product on site. Alagem says it's a delicate balance to keep guests safe and relaxed while not overwhelming them with the fight against COVID-19.

"What we don't want to do is to create another health risk for them here. So you don't want to pump in chemicals into their rooms before they come in," said Alagem. "Nothing worse than going to a hotel and you come into the room and your eyes are burning from the bleach."