As nighttime temperatures dip into the 1940s with the onset of fall, Larimer County has stepped in with a temporary housing solution for homeless people who test positive for COVID-19.
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The Fort Collins Rescue Mission had created a space of isolation for HIV-positive men seeking refuge in the downtown facility, but can no longer do so as the need for a warm and safe place for those without. shelter in cold weather increases.
The shelter, which serves homeless single men, recently had 21 men tested positive for COVID-19. They isolated the men in one of the three dormitories, reducing the number of other men it could house.
Since then, however, the Fort Collins rescue mission has seen the number of men seeking overnight shelter increase as temperatures drop.
On Monday, he turned down 20 men, said Seth Forwood, the shelter’s senior manager.
“It really made it clear that our main mission needs to be focused on providing (a) shelter for the homeless and we need to find other partnerships in order to serve those suffering from COVID, all the more so that we anticipate colder weather, ”he said. .
“We don’t want to be in the position where we are doing a bad job containing COVID in our shelter and it is spreading while being completely full and denying a warm and safe place without COVID to the general homeless population. Said Forwood.
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The Fort Collins Rescue Mission worked closely with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment to set up an alternative isolation site.
County spokesman Kori Wilford said on Thursday that those without housing and who test positive are now given a hotel room in which to isolate themselves and recover from COVID-19. The five remaining COVID-positive men from the Fort Collins rescue mission moved to hotel rooms on Thursday, Forwood said.
Hotel rooms are paid for through epidemiology and laboratory capacity funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wilford said.
Samaritan House Fort Collins, which is part of Catholic Charities serving Larimer County, has had three confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the past month, said regional director Joe Domko. A mass test on Friday could change those numbers significantly, he said.
“While it is an ongoing challenge to find adequate shelter space during the winter season, the pandemic has made it exponentially more difficult to find viable solutions to this problem,” he said.
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Shelters also face labor shortages that make it more difficult to recruit and support their teams, Domko said. “For each additional location operated, the staffing requirements effectively double. “
And if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 among the staff, they need to hire even more team members to fill those positions, he said.
“This combination of the annual seasonal shelter space challenge coupled with staff shortages and a critical lack of decompression options like an IRQ (site of isolation and recovery and quarantine) makes winter operations very. intimidating. ”
Pat Ferrier is a senior journalist who covers business, health care and growth issues in northern Colorado. Contact her at [email protected] Please support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a subscription today.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Larimer County Health Department Steps In to Help Homeless People Tested Positive for COVID