The new coronavirus appears to have made its way into the community of people experiencing homelessness in Fort Collins.
Five people at the Northside Aztlan Community Center, which has been converted into a temporary day and night shelter for the homeless, have been tested for the virus, said David Rout, executive director of Homeward Alliance.
One is presumed to be positive, he said. Test results were pending as of noon Thursday.
One person was sick enough to be hospitalized Wednesday, he said. One person appears to have recovered and is feeling well, while three others are in isolation at Aztlan and in stable condition.
The Health District of Northern Larimer County is staffing the center and monitoring the health of guests. The threshold for sending someone to the hospital is serious respiratory difficulty.
“We’ve had several other people present with symptoms,” Rout said. “We are monitoring symptoms very closely.”
Some homeless people are choosing to self-isolate by sleeping outside or in their cars rather than staying at Aztlan or other shelters around the city.
The center also has experienced an outbreak of norovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
More people are showing signs of norovirus than coronavirus at Aztlan, Rout said. A doctor is on site all day; staff and volunteers are working hard to keep the site clean.
Rout said Homeward Alliance and the Health District are looking for other locations around the city with enough space to isolate people who test positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.
“The hope is that we can get to the point that the Aztlan Center is for screening and general services,” he said. “And if people are symptomatic, the recovery location is elsewhere. For a number of reasons, that would be ideal.”
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Homeless services providers and local governments also are looking into the possibilities for using motels and hotels for longer-term recovery and isolation of COVID-19 patients.
The state’s emergency declaration approved by the federal government allows the use of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to establish temporary housing.
The Aztlan Center is seeing 165 to 200 people during the day and 120 to 160 in the evening, Rout said. Catholic Charities is serving 80 to 115 people a night, and families are quarantining at local churches.
The shelter at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission is still operating.
This story has a correction. Five people have been tested, and one is presumed positive for COVID-19. Due to a source error, the number of presumed positive cases were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
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