A total of 28 homeless people, and now also shelter staff, tested positive for the coronavirus at the MainSpring House last week, with more than 100 people tested, according to the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.
BROCKTON – The amount of people at Brockton’s downtown homeless shelter who tested positive for the coronavirus continues to rise.
The total number of homeless, and now also shelter staff, who tested positive for the coronavirus at the MainSpring House last week has grown to 28, according to the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, in an update provided by the nonprofit on Monday.
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Brockton Neighborhood Health Center medical staff started collecting samples a week ago in a clinic at the shelter, as health center officials feared a rapid spread of the coronavirus among the homeless population. For nearly three weeks since the coronavirus pandemic led to Mayor Robert Sullivan to declare a local state of emergency, more than 125 homeless people remained sheltered in close quarters, with bunk beds within three or four feet of each other, in the crowded MainSpring House at 54 N. Main St.
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Late last week, several tents were erected outside of the MainSpring House at the city-owned Perkins Park and on property owned by the nonprofit Father Bill’s and MainSpring shelter operator, in order to serve about 60 homeless people with cots and heating, in an effort to allow the shelter to have more space for guests and staff to follow social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tents, provided by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Public Health, also provide flexibility to open up quarantine sites if necessary, according to Father Bill’s and MainSpring.
“We work with an immunodeficient population, including many elders, who are among the most vulnerable members of our community,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “Any virus, whether it’s the seasonal flu or coronavirus, can have an especially devastating impact on our shelter population, so it’s our responsibility to take every step needed to protect those we serve.”
In addition to the tents, state officials from Gov. Charlie Baker’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said homeless individuals who have tested posted are being placed in an isolation hotel with around-the-clock nursing and security support.
“We continue to work closely with local officials and stakeholders in Brockton, including the mayor, the MainSpring shelter, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center and our state colleagues, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Community Development … to coordinate a response and quickly respond to the need for quarantine and isolation space for homeless individuals,” according to a statement provided late last week by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.