Sheraton hotel cleared to reopen following Legionnaires' outbreak

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that the Department of Health has cleared the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta to reopen following a Legionnaires' disease outbreak.

The Health Department said Legionella bacteria was found in the hotel's cooling tower and in a decorative fountain in the hotel atrium.

As of Thursday, the Health Department said there were 13 lab-confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease, including one death, and 66 probable cases from the outbreak.

The hotel had been closed for more than a month while staff cleared it of the bacteria.

The one victim who died from the disease tied to the hotel was identified as Cameo Garrett.


In an interview with Channel 2's Tom Jones, Garrett's father said he suspected his daughter died from the illness after becoming sick shortly after staying at the hotel.

"She said she was having stomach problems and intestinal problems," Al Garrett said.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of lung infection that is caused by bacteria living in warm water. You get it by breathing in affected water droplets and there are many ways to be exposed.

Danielle Johnson said she booked a room at the hotel back in May. When she and Brian Walker arrived on Thursday, they didn't know the hotel had reopened the same day after being closed for a month because of the outbreak.

"We've got the run of the place that's for sure," Johnson said.

They found out about the outbreak at check-in but the news sending them packing.

"It's probably the cleanest the hotel has ever been. It's going to be the safest place to stay right now because it's not going to get any cleaner or safer," Johnson said.

The Sheraton sent the following statement Thursday night:

"Sheraton Atlanta Hotel reopened today, with the support and concurrence of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and Fulton County Board of Health (FCBOH). An extensive investigation has identified no evidence of a risk of Legionella exposure at the hotel at this time. Periodic sampling and testing in accordance with DPH recommendations will continue.  

Out of an abundance of caution, the hotel closed voluntarily on July 15 in response to information provided by DPH and FCBOH. For the past month, the hotel has worked closely with public health officials during an investigation of an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease.  

During this time the hotel carried out: an environmental assessment of hotel water systems in conjunction with FCBOH and DPH; technical assessment and extensive environmental sampling and analysis completed by independent consultants and laboratories with expertise in remediation for and control of Legionella; and comprehensive remediation.

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel looks forward to welcoming its valued guests and associates, and reopened with full services."

Anthony Almond said that, even though the hotel was cleared to open, he still feels uneasy about being a guest.

"I'm considering staying for Dragon Con I was kind of iffy on the fence. I heard it opened back up but it looks pretty dead," he said.