Tacoma homeless shelters being monitored after two residents test positive for coronavirus

Two homeless shelters in Tacoma are being monitored after a resident at each facility was found to have the coronavirus.

TACOMA, Wash. — Two homeless shelters in Tacoma are being monitored after a resident at each facility was found to have the coronavirus.

A case of COVID-19 was identified Wednesday at the Tacoma Rescue Mission after a man who had been staying there since January became sick. “We already had a plan for that to do because we’ve been working with the health department, so we were able to contact them and immediately have that person quarantined,” said executive director Duke Paulson.

The man, who Paulson said appears to be in his 60s, was taken from the mission and is in quarantine offsite. His condition is improving, according to Paulson. The mission is monitoring at least seven other men who came in contact with the patient and has isolated them.

Content Continues Below

It was the second COVID-19 case in a homeless shelter in Tacoma this week. On Sunday, a man in his 30s living at Nativity House since January also tested positive for the virus. Nine others living there are now being monitored.

“I think the homeless population is definitely at risk from the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Nigel Turner, director of the communicable disease office at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Turner said tracking 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 Turner.

The only Pierce County homeless shelter outside Tacoma announced it will stop offering overnight shelter. The New Hope Resource Center in Puyallup said on its website Thursday it will offer sleeping bags, tents and one meal per day, because of the outbreak.