Dallas Homeless Shelter Evacuated After 38 Contract Coronavirus

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City officials said 164 residents at the privately run shelter, Dallas Life, were taken by bus to a hotel. They will be isolated in individual rooms for two weeks while the shelter is cleaned. Nobody was hospitalized, according to the shelter’s director, Bob Sweeney.

 

 

Mr. Sweeney said the shelter, which can house up to 500 people, stopped taking new residents and reduced its staffing to a skeleton crew of about 12 in mid-March, as the pandemic escalated.

About eight days ago, he said, a resident with a fever tested positive for the virus, followed by two more this week, which prompted health officials to order that everyone in the shelter be tested.

He said many of the residents were grateful to be staying in a hotel with three meals a day brought to their rooms.

Advocates for homeless people said they were not surprised by the outbreak, given the risk that shelter residents, many with respiratory illnesses, face when living in often cramped quarters.

A week ago, 70 people at San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter tested positive for the coronavirus in the largest reported outbreak at a single shelter in the United States.

“When you get a bunch of vulnerable people in a small space, the spread of the coronavirus is inevitable,” Eric Samuels, the president and chief executive of the Texas Homeless Network, said on Friday. “We have been warning policy leaders for over a month.”

Mr. Samuels said he believed that Texas officials should be using federal emergency funding to safely shelter homeless people in hotels.

There are about 4,000 homeless people in Dallas, city officials said.

City officials said that because social distancing measures limited the ability of many homeless shelters to operate, the city opened a temporary overnight shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Between 260 and 300 people have been spending the night at the shelter, which has recorded no positive cases of the coronavirus.

Dallas County has had at least 2,190 coronavirus cases and 55 deaths.

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