Six people linked to Hope Mission shelter test positive for COVID-19

Six people linked to the Hope Mission’s emergency shelter have tested positive for COVID-19, Alberta Health Services said Wednesday. 

AHS spokesperson Sabrina Atwal said they began investigating after one person in the homeless population tested positive. 

Atwal confirmed that all six cases are clients — the first reported among Edmonton’s homeless community. 

Health workers continue to do contact tracing and swab tests on those who may have been exposed.

Five cases remain active while one person has recovered, Atwal said.

By Wednesday afternoon, Hope Mission hadn’t returned CBC’s request for comment. 

In Old Strathcona, the Mustard Seed runs two different shelters with a total of 80 beds.

Dean Kurpjuweit, Mustard Seed executive director, told CBC News that no one at these shelters has tested positive yet but that the cases north of the river are clearly a concern. 

“Obviously, it’s worrisome right? That’s not the number we wanted,” he said. 

Kurpjuweit said Hope Mission is doing “an outstanding job of ensuring protocols are being practised,” and agencies are working together to ensure there aren’t outbreaks at other locations. 

The social agencies in Edmonton, in conjunction with AHS, have managed to keep COVID-19 out of the homeless community for the past six months, Kurpjuweit noted. 

“We were so pleased about that and so happy for our client group that that was the case, and obviously this changes that a little bit,” he said. 

The Mustard Seed shelters, he said, are adjusting some protocols, such as assigning a cot or mat to the same client returning each night, 

They’re also putting clients in sleeping blocks, making it easier for AHS to do contact tracing if required, he said. 

Anyone deemed to be at risk has been referred to the Edmonton isolation facility, she said. 

That facility, in an undisclosed location, is a replacement shelter since the EXPO closed.

Shelter managers have daily meetings with AHS, Kurpjuweit said, and were informed as soon as the cases at Hope Mission were known to be positive. 

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