After recording its first coronavirus cases, Omaha’s Open Door Mission is reporting a total of 18 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The Douglas County Health Department sent a team of 30 National Guard members to the Open Door Mission to complete the testing, Candace Gregory, Open Door Mission’s president and CEO, said in a press release.
In the first round of testing, 84% of staff and guests were tested. Testing found 18 positive cases of COVID-19 — six staff members and 12 guests. Results for three tests are still pending.
About 1% already had been tested and 3% were children under 2 years old who could not be tested.
While waiting on results of testing, additional isolation and quarantine rooms were prepared.
Members of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s infectious disease team toured the shelter’s campus, near Carter Lake in northeast Omaha, last Monday to review protocols and procedures. Along with shelter staff, they established locations for quarantine and isolation rooms.
Another round of testing will be held Monday with the National Guard team to see if the virus has spread.
Some of the shelter’s immediate needs include washable face masks for men at the Men’s Center, washable gowns for nurses entering the COVID-19 areas and disinfectant supplies.
World-Herald reporting from late March demonstrated the challenges faced by Omaha’s biggest homeless shelters during a pandemic. At the time, Gregory said the organization was limiting how many people could sit at tables, keeping volunteers away to reduce exposure and closing some outreach centers.
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