Potential case of coronavirus among local homeless population

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – At least one person among Salt Lake City’s homeless population may have been showing symptoms for COVID-19.

“We just want to contain it, and restrict as much as possible,” said Andrew Johnston.

Johnston is the Vice President of Program Operations for Volunteers of America Utah.

His group manages a number of local programs to help the homeless including a youth resource center and the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center.

“We had somebody at our resource center, one of them that did have some symptoms,” he explains. “They were evaluated, and a test done. I don’t have the results back yet.”

Johnston says he isn’t sure if the person is an actual client, but as he waits for results, his team is putting together a plan of action.

“We’re doing a lot of stuff about preventative work. Sanitizing, social distancing as much as we possibly can in our facilities.”

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, he explains some more measures in place to help limit the illness’s spread.

“We doubt most of our clients traveled out of the country in recent weeks, but making sure we’re asking those questions so if they are showing symptoms, and reason to be evaluated we can refer them to Forestry Homeless Clinic, and also the county’s clinic are also available.”

Johnston says quarantine spaces are available.

“In the building, we do have some spaces that are set aside for people who are exhibiting symptoms.”

In addition to these measures, the medical director of Salt Lake County’s Health Department speaks on the county’s plans.

“As you know counting now is in Unified Command, and we actually have a specialized unit that is looking into homeless populations issues because that’s huge,” said Dr. Dagmar Vitek, the Medical Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Currently, Salt Lake County has 14 cases linked to either travel or an infected case.

On Sunday, Dr. Vitek explained community spread is possible as cases increase.

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