LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Fayette County homeless shelter has contained a small COVID-19 outbreak in its shelter.
Now, they’ve increased their safety precautions adding on more protocols, and ramped up efforts for their street outreach team
“It’s just more of a drop-in shelter,” said Carey Cairo, volunteer community manager at the Hope Center in Lexington.
The center is now a low barrier warming shelter.
“People who are out on the streets can come in and stay. they can stay overnight. We’ve been housing around 30 men every night,” Cairo said.
It’s a separate tent with beds and blankets to help keep people dropping in from the community in one area, while those who are using the emergency shelter are in another location. These are all efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Like most other organizations we did experience some positive cases,” Cairo said.
In December, they saw a spike.
“I think we had about 44 positive cases,” Cairo said.
Now, there’s only one case present. This a first for the Hope Center during this whole pandemic.
“I think it's hard when you have staff working directly with clients and they do have to quarantine if they’re exposed or think that they might be exposed,” Cairo said.
She said the staff worked around the clock to sanitize and clean spaces to contain the virus.
“We have also switched things around to maintain more social distance and we had to utilize some space. the area we typically used for clothing donations, which is our clothing closet we had to switch that around and make it sleeping areas. so that we could space people out,” Cairo said.
Through the CARES Act funding, the Hope Center has mobilized a Street Outreach Team.
“Reaching those people who may be hesitant to come because they’re worried about virus numbers and covid in a residential setting but I feel like we’ve done a very good job of reaching out into the community and meeting them where they are,” Cairo said.
The center is also conducting daily tests on those in the emergency shelter and weekly tests for all other programs.