Three Seattle-area shelters close after resident tests positive for COVID-19

Three Seattle area shelters close after resident tests positive for COVID-19

SEATTLE — Three homeless shelters operated by Union Gospel Mission closed Saturday because of COVID-19.

The locations are Hope Place, Riverton Place and the downtown men’s shelter.

On Saturday afternoon, King County lawmakers spoke of the importance of these types of safeguards.

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"Sanitize homeless shelters and reduce the chance of infection. All of it is in a bid to limit the number of hospital beds for those who need acute care,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Two hundred seventy people are now in quarantine inside the shelters that are closed.

They’ll be there for the next 14 days.

Today, Gov. Jay Inslee highlighted the closing of homeless shelters as a necessary safeguard to stop COVID-19.

"These are decisions on what will happen in the future that we cannot predict, and we will make decisions to be as confident as we can that we can save the people we love, and that’s what we’re doing today,” he said.

This weekend’s closures happened just days after two shelters in the Tacoma area saw cases of COVID-19.

Officials there told us tracking the coronavirus is difficult and even harder among the homeless.

"I think the homeless population has additional challenges in terms of identifying people and finding people’s contacts and working with them,” said Nigel Turner, with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.

In Seattle, no guests or visitors will be allowed into the closed shelters for the next two weeks.