One of Vancouver’s leading homeless outreach and shelter organizations says it has confirmed five cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks.
In a message posted to its website, Union Gospel Mission said four of the cases involved outreach or shelter workers, while a fifth was a person who was staying at the shelter.
UGM provides meals, shelter and clothing to hundreds of street homeless people along with outreach and drug and alcohol recovery programs.
All of the cases were at UGM’s 601 East Hastings facility. Two of the cases were last on site on Oct. 22, while the other three were last at the facility on Oct. 14, 16, and 19.
UGM said all of the staff are self-isolating, and that all five cases are getting care and guidance from Vancouver Coastal Health.
Health officials are also conducting contact tracing to identify and notify anyone who may have been exposed.
“We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our guests, many of whom rely on UGM for meals, shelter and safety daily for survival,” said the organization in a statement.
“Their lives are on the line, and we will continue to serve them with dignity and respect through new extra measures to keep our community safe.”
Those measures include a deep cleaning of the Hastings St. facility, distributing protective equipment to staff, reducing the number of workers on site and continuing to screen clients for symptoms, UGM said.
UGM was also making masks available to visitors, and said it was reviewing how to amend its protocols if necessary.
The mission implemented its COVID-19 safety plan in March, which included suspending or modifying a number of in-person programs and shifting its cafeteria meal program to a to-go format.