Modesto homeless shelter deals with COVID-19 outbreak

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MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — From three COVID-19 cases last week to 25 now, the Salvation Army in Modesto is working to contain an outbreak within the Berberian Homeless Shelter. 

Major Harold Laubach says sanitization, separation and weekly testing are just some of the preventative measures taking place at the shelter.

“I can’t say that I feel good about having COVID-19 inside of our congregate living facilities; I’m not that worried,” Laubach told FOX40. 

Laubach said the three men who tested positive last week have been moved to a motel by the county. The 22 men who later tested positive are in an isolated part of the shelter. 

“That isolation room has its own ventilation system. It has its own bathroom, its own showers,” Laubach said. 

So far, the symptoms have been mild, according to Laubach. 

“There’s a couple of small symptoms, you know. One of them a stuffy nose or a scratchy throat, stuff like that, but we don’t have anyone anywhere close to hospitalization,” Laubach said. 

Laubach said almost 200 staff members and clients were tested. But only one group was infected — homeless men. 

“Everyone’s wearing masks. Again, we’re serving meals separately and doing smaller groups during meals,” Laubach said. 

On top of the safety measures inside, the staff is working to ensure everyone’s safety whenever a client has to conduct business outside.

“We have a sign in and out process where they let us know where they’re going, how long they’re going to be out and when they come back, they prove where they went,” Laubach explained. 

Laubach said he does anticipate more cases, but they are staying optimistic and are confident in the plans they have in place. 

“Don’t expect it to end there. There’s other shelters in town right now dealing with the same thing,” Laubach said. 

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