PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Nearly a dozen residents and one employee at Light of Life Rescue Mission in Pittsburgh have tested positive for coronavirus.
The Light of Light Rescue Mission executive director confirms 11 residents and one staffer have tested positive for COVID-19. The mission gives food and shelter to people experiencing homelessness, poverty or addiction.
BREAKING: Light of Life Mission Exec. Dir. Jerrel Gilliam confirms 11 residents and one staffer test positive for Covid19. Steps being taken to contain spread. Live reports @KDKA pic.twitter.com/QHaEuKP4Rw
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) September 24, 2020
“Of course it’s concerning, but we also feel like we were prepared for this moment,” said Executive Director Jerrel Gilliam.
The North Side mission’s website says they became aware last week of three presumptive cases and contacted the Allegheny County Health Department.
“We then ordered testing for our entire staff and clients remaining in the building, and of course our concern was to find out if there were more people,” he said.
Then on Friday, they were notified of nine more positive cases in long-term residents. All of the infected residents and their roommates have been sent to an undisclosed location in Green Tree for care and isolation.
There are currently 53 people who are sheltering-in-place inside the shelter, and staff who may have come in contact with infected residents are self-quarantining for two weeks.
Light of Life says they are continuing to follow CDC sanitization guidelines and will still serve outdoor breakfast and dinner to-go.
In a statement, the health department says it “provides guidance and assists with locating alternative housing, access to testing, securing cleaning services and developing new protocols and procedures.”
And Gilliam says Light of Life and outreach organizations such as Operation Safety Net have been proactive to contain the virus in the at-risk homeless population both in the shelters and outside of them.
“We had an aggressive plan to actually go the camps to take hand washing stations, hygiene kits, food and shelter. So, it became this plan of keeping people isolated in the homeless community so that they wouldn’t cross contaminate,” he said.