Ben Young, a shelter client at the Edmonton Convention Centre (ECC), tested positive for COVID-19 and is sharing his concerns about the downtown shelter, which is still dealing with an outbreak.
Young feels that people at the convention centre are not following safety protocols.
“It’s getting worse and worse and worse,” Young said.
“Masks are down all the time, there’s no sanitization, there’s barely any social distancing.”
Cases at the ECC went up from 22 on Friday to 60 by Tuesday – that’s both staff and clients. But just like the rest of the province, test results and contact tracing are behind so numbers may vary in the days to come.
A COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday at the temporary 24/7 accommodation.
Young is currently in quarantine for 14 days at a Travelodge after getting his test results on Monday.
He caught the virus after coming in close contact with another positive case at the ECC shelter. After being flagged by staff at ECC, he was put in an isolation area and then started to show symptoms.
“While I was there, after three days I woke up, I had a little bit of a running nose and kind of a sore throat so I told them and they shipped me off to the Travelodge… and as soon as I got here, I got tested,” Young said.
Elliott Tanti, from Boyle Street Community Services — one of the operators of the convention centre — said social distancing has been challenging but they have mask restrictions in place that they enforce.
“We have been quite strict about mask-wearing policies in the space and in fact, if you are not wearing a mask you are not allowed to be in the space,” Tanti said.
Tanti said the process Young described means protocols are working.
“What he described as his experience going through ECC is exactly what we hoped when we set up the facility.”
In terms of the outbreak at the facility and case numbers, Tanti said they work hard to keep the areas safe and clean while monitoring close contacts and positive cases.
“It’s a moving target. What we know for certain is regardless of the number of cases in this outbreak or the number of cases in our community, we have to be incredibly diligent in our facilities and insure that they are as safe and as hygienic for the people that we serve as possible,” Tanti said.
Capacity at the convention centre has been lowered to 150 spaces for day and overnight shelter, with 40 isolation spots for close contacts.