COVID-19 outbreak hits homeless shelter

No new clients will be accepted while those exposed are in quarantine.

San Benito County’s homeless shelter is in quarantine as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak in the last 11 days. Enrique Arreola, deputy director of the San Benito County Human Health Services Agency, said the shelter had three clients test positive for the virus over the weekend, including one who was hospitalized. 

Arreola said at the Dec. 15 San Benito County Board of Supervisors meeting that the shelter had not experienced a positive case until this outbreak. 

The shelter, known as the Homeless Opportunities Meals and Empowerment (H.O.M.E.) Resource Center, has reported nine positive cases. Those who tested positive have been placed in quarantine in trailers owned by the county. The remaining 12 clients, all adults, are quarantined at the shelter. Ages range from the 30s to 60s, Arreola said. 

“As a result, the shelter is in quarantine and is not accepting more clients because we don’t want to risk anyone else,” Arreola said. “The intent is to place safeguards for any new individuals.” 

He added that the health department and shelter operators, Community Homeless Solutions, have stressed the importance of safety measures to all its clients, so there have been no issues regarding compliance. 

“When they’ve needed quarantine they’ve been pretty good,” Arreola. They stay indoors, they adhere to everything that’s been asked of them. So yeah, I think they’ve been cooperative.” 

Arreola said the earliest the shelter can open is 14 days from the last reported case. 

In response to the pandemic, the shelter decreased its number of beds from 50 to 25. 

“We’re doing the best that we can to keep everyone safe and provide shelter. Those that are sent to one of the units also get food provided and there is contact just to make sure they are fine,” Arreola said.


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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.