5 confirmed cases of Legionella in people who visited, stayed at downtown hotel

ATLANTA — More hotel guests in downtown Atlanta had to find a new place to stay Tuesday because the Sheraton Hotel on Courtland Street is shut down "until further notice" after guests got sick with Legionnaires' disease.

[READ MORE: Downtown Atlanta hotel closed after 3 cases of Legionnaires' disease]

The Georgia Department of Health is now investigating five confirmed cases of the disease that may have come from the hotel.

Channel 2's Nicole Carr ran into a couple about to check in when they learned about what was going on.

"What was going through your head when you heard Legionnaires' disease?" Carr asked Tom Woodcock and Heather Hellman, of St. Louis.

“Get me out of here," Hellman said.

"How fast can you get me another hotel?" Woodcock said.

[READ MORE: What is Legionnaires' disease? FAQs about the severe form of pneumonia]

The handful of guests Carr spoke with were from out of state and had not yet heard the news. They were handed relocation paperwork upon arrival.


"Basically, they just said, 'We're going to put you in another hotel.' Not necessarily them giving us input of it being the same caliber, 'cause we picked this hotel out," Woodcock said.

The Sheraton relocated Woodcock and Hellman to the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, citing an "unexpected event."

Last Friday, a Georgia man made a public Facebook post warning against staying in the hotel after he'd been hospitalized for pneumonia earlier in the week. He confirmed health department involvement.

Carr asked the state health department when reports of sickness began. The first unspecified illness report was last Wednesday.

The hotel has not started Legionella testing, saying they're still researching contractors who they'll pay to develop a plan that must be submitted to the state, according to a Sheraton spokesperson.

There's no definite timeline on what the state calls a complex investigative process with those independent experts.

A state epidemiologist told Channel 2 Action News that there were 189 of these cases in Georgia last year.

The caseload has quadrupled in the past decade, but we have not yet received information on whether the state has testing requirements amid what's become a nationwide spike in Legionnaires' cases.