Health experts helping mitigate COVID at homeless shelters

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – In the last few days more than 20 people have tested positive at New Hope Community Center and City Rescue Mission of Lansing

Chad Becerra is one of them. He’s been in quarantine at the shelter for nearly 2 weeks now but says COVID is making it hard for him to survive,

“I’m trying to get my life back. Can’t go to work. They tell me if I leave I can’t come back.”

He’s not the only one.

“I just started a job at through a temp agency. I only got 8 days of work in and then this pops off,” said Joe R. Cross, he’s also living at New Hope Community Center.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says mitigation efforts at shelters need to involve vaccines.

“Their plan needs to incorporate how do we maintain as new individuals come in since the population is so transient, one making sure they get vaccinated and two at the very least knowing their vaccination status.”

Prior to July, the Ingham County Health Department housed people who tested positive offsite but Vail says that the program isn’t coming back.

“We will not be opening up another hoteling program that we have to operate because we just do not have the staff.”

Officials say shelters are difficult places to quarantine because space is limited. That’s why she says it’s important to keep treating covid like a serious threat.

“During substantial and high transmission people should be wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces.”

And Vail says we all can play a role in protecting vulnerable communities.

“There is no reason that we couldn’t have high enough vaccination rates based on availability and other things so when we don’t get there we are failing some people that are vulnerable”

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