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Road Home: no positive tests for coronavirus at area homeless shelters

The men's homeless resource center in South Salt Lake, as seen in October 2019. Shelters like this one around the Salt Lake Valley are working hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus. File photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — The Road Home says they are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at their homeless shelters in the Salt Lake area. So far, no one has tested positive for the virus.

Coronavirus and homeless shelters

Executive Director Michelle Flynn says they have been screening people constantly, asking them questions about their symptoms.

“If people answer positive on those questions, then we help connect them with 4th Street Clinic [in downtown Salt Lake City] or another medical provider who will do an assessment and determine whether or not that individual needs to have a test for COVID-19,” Flynn said.

The Salt Lake County Health Department has a place where homeless individuals can stay and self-quarantine while they’re waiting for their coronavirus test results.

“If the person’s test results are negative, which they have been up to this point, then they would release them to come back to one of the resource centers,” Flynn said.

The homeless shelters cannot release medical information, but they call the Salt Lake County Health Department daily to check if anyone has tested positive for coronavirus.

Social distancing in place

Flynn says they have also made changes at their shelters to meet CDC guidelines on social distancing, even though that has been a challenge.

“We do have bunk beds in all of our resource centers in Salt Lake County … We’re doing things like really frequent cleanings, having people sleep head-to-toe so there’s more distance between them. If anyone is symptomatic [of COVID-19] we get them immediately to be seen [at a clinic] and have an assessment,” Flynn said.

She also says they have made changes at their family shelter in Midvale.

“We have, in some of our facilities, a little bit more opportunity to separate people. The family shelter itself is very full, and we don’t have private rooms for families. But we are…identifying any families that are in a high risk category [for getting COVID-19], and we’re moving them into motels,” Flynn said.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:  https://coronavirus.utah.gov/

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States