After nine months working around the clock to keep the homeless men and women of Colorado Springs safe and healthy from the COVID-19 pandemic, Springs Rescue Mission has now experienced its first confirmed outbreak of the virus.
We’ve been blessed up to this point that an outbreak didn’t hit sooner. But as the second wave of the pandemic began sweeping the nation, we knew it would be only a matter of time before we began seeing our first positive cases among staff and the individuals we serve on our campus in downtown Colorado Springs.
We are working with El Paso County Public Health to relay our numbers to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. From what we know, the outbreak began on Oct. 25 and there have been 15 positive cases among staff members and residents of our New Life Program for men’s addiction recovery, as well as another individual who is presumed positive but is still waiting for test results.
We’ve also started to see positive cases among our homeless guests, which will be published by county and state health agencies after they are confirmed and properly vetted. Those individuals were immediately sent to the Isolation Shelter for testing and quarantine after they were found to be symptomatic during routine screening at the Mission.
We take this matter very seriously and will do everything in our power to keep our staff, volunteers and guests healthy and safe moving forward. The population we serve is among the most vulnerable to this virus, and we are committed to protecting them.
We will continue to practice the “Layers of Safety” protocols we developed early in the pandemic, and to utilize the Isolation Shelter at City Auditorium in downtown Colorado Springs. The Isolation Shelter is used to quarantine and provide medical assistance to homeless individuals who are experiencing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19.
Those Layers of Safety protocols were based on Centers for Disease Control recommendations for homeless service providers and include:
• screening all guests for symptoms upon shelter entry;
• providing easy access to hand sanitizer and masks to all guests, volunteers and staff;
• increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting;
• encouraging “social distancing” and other CDC-recommended self-care techniques;
• implementing head-to-toe sleeping strategies in all shelter programs;
• posting signage related to and encouraging best practices in cleanliness and safety;
• requiring all staff, guests and clients to wash and sanitize hands upon entry;
• referring anyone with symptoms to seek appropriate medical attention; and
• requiring volunteers and non-essential staff to remain home/work remotely.
As we enter the coldest months of winter, we recognize that our community’s most vulnerable men and women need our help now more than ever. We will continue to provide reliable shelter, meals and life-giving services to guests, while working proactively to stop the spread of this virus.
Please pray for the health and safety of our homeless neighbors and all who serve them, as we continue to balance the risk of infection with the urgent need for homeless services in Colorado Springs.
PS: The Mission needs your help now more than ever to protect our neighbors in need from COVID-19, and to continue helping them find pathways out of homelessness, poverty, unemployment, illness and addiction. Please consider supporting this cause by giving today.
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