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At least 166 homeless have tested positive for COVID-19 in Salt Lake County

10 cases confirmed in Midvale family shelter, 144 in South Salt Lake shelter, 4 in Salt Lake City shelter, 8 unsheltered

SHARE At least 166 homeless have tested positive for COVID-19 in Salt Lake County
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Tents are set up outside of the Road Home’s Midvale Family Resource Center in Midvale on Monday, May 11, 2020. The family shelter has 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The cases occurred in seven different families, according to Chloe Morroni, Salt Lake County spokeswoman.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

MIDVALE — The coronavirus pandemic has now hit a third Salt Lake County homeless facility: the Midvale family shelter.

Salt Lake County officials reported Monday 10 people staying at the Midvale Family Resource Center, 529 9th Ave., have tested positive for COVID-19, four days after 140 clients were tested on Thursday. Those 10 cases come from seven different families, according to Chloe Morroni, spokeswoman for Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

That brings the total of homeless individuals who had been living in Salt Lake County homeless shelters that have tested positive for COVID-19 to at least 158 between three shelters in Midvale, South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City, plus eight unsheltered individuals.

Additionally, three Midvale shelter employees out of 56 workers tested also were positive for COVID-19, according to Morroni.

The 10 clients and their families have been moved to one of the county’s quarantine and isolation facilities, which county officials have declined to disclose their locations. County officials did not release any information Monday of the ages of the people who tested positive in the Midvale shelter, which houses families with children.

After the 10 clients tested positive and moved out of the Midvale shelter, 95 individuals from 29 families continue to stay there, according to Morroni. However, the shelter has temporarily shut its doors to any new families.

“As of right now, no new clients are being accepted into the (Midvale) center,” Morroni said in Monday’s news release. “Salt Lake County and partners are working with the Salt Lake County Health Department to allow new families as soon as it is responsible to do so.”

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The Road Home’s Midvale Family Resource Center, pictured in Midvale on Monday, May 11, 2020, has 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The cases occurred in seven different families, according to Chloe Morroni, Salt Lake County spokeswoman.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

In the meantime, families experiencing homelessness are encouraged to call the homeless connection hotline, 801-990-9999, for options to be diverted from homelessness.

As of Monday, 123 homeless individuals were staying at a hotel Salt Lake County officials are leasing for “high-risk” homeless — individuals over the age of 60 or who have underlying health issues, according to Morroni.

The 10 positive cases come after efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Utah’s homeless system, including extra cleaning, further separation inside resource centers, tents set up outside the Midvale family shelter to encourage social distancing during the day, encouraging of both staff and clients to wear face masks, daily screenings for fever and other symptoms, and testing, Morroni said.

The Midvale shelter is the third homeless shelter to have confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Last month, county officials reported one homeless individual who had been staying at one of those three shelters has died from COVID-19 — though health department officials have declined to disclose which shelter that person was staying in, citing privacy concerns.

As of Monday, at least four clients have tested positive out of the Gail Miller Homeless Resource Center, an up-to 200-bed, mixed-gender facility in Salt Lake City, and at least 144 men have tested positive out of the 300-bed South Salt Lake men’s resource center, up from the initial 94 positives county officials reported last month. As of Sunday night, 201 men were staying at the South Salt Lake shelter, according to Morroni.

So far, no homeless clients have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center in Salt Lake City, Morroni said.

Also, eight people living on the streets and not in homeless shelters have been confirmed positive for COVID-19, Morroni said.

As of Monday afternoon, 56 individuals had been staying in county-operated quarantine and isolation facilities, according to Morroni.

Acknowledging the challenging living situations in dorm-like homeless shelters, Salt Lake County officials had upped efforts to sanitize homeless centers and test clients, but braced for when COVID-19 would begin spreading in Salt Lake County’s system.

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Tents are set up outside of the Road Home’s Midvale Family Resource Center in Midvale on Monday, May 11, 2020. The family shelter has 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The cases occurred in seven different families, according to Chloe Morroni, Salt Lake County spokeswoman.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News