20 clients test positive for COVID-19 at Brother Francis Shelter

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 5:11 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Twenty clients have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Brother Francis Shelter.

According to Tricia Teasley with Catholic Social Services, the shelter was informed on Wednesday that one client had tested positive for COVID-19 after they were no longer staying at the shelter.

On Thursday, the shelter began testing onsite. Eighteen of those clients tested positive on Thursday and two more clients have since tested positive.

“We screen everybody,” Teasley said. “That’s one of the precautions we’ve been taking since March is we screen everybody coming into the shelter.

Teasley says they have worked diligently to follow CDC guidelines. The shelter has extra washing stations and is administering tests three times a week.

“From day one, we have been taking this seriously,” Teasley said.

These are the first positive cases reported in clients at the shelter.

“It’s the first known case we’ve had at the shelter so we feel very fortunate to have gone this long with COVID going through the community,” Teasley said.

All of the people who tested positive were asymptomatic, Teasley said.

Clients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are isolated and staying at a separate location, Teasley said.

Bill Falsey, Anchorage municipal incident commander, said he has confidence that contact tracers have identified all or most of the close contacts for those with the virus.

“This is unlike some of the earlier situations in which the department had been overwhelmed, and needed to send up a flare,” Falsey said. “This is one where we pretty good visibility.”

In the past, the Anchorage Health Department has made public notices listing businesses were COVID-19 exposure was likely. The cases at Brother Francis Shelter were identified last week but were never posted on the AHD’s confirmed exposure location webpage.

“The criteria is we are only really listing them if we are unable to [contact trace] them in a timely manner,” Falsey said. “We are telling the public, if you happen to be at this location, it may well be you were exposed. Here we are not in that scenario we don’t think that there were people who were at Brother Francis Shelter who haven’t been able to identify and contact.”

Going forward, Falsey said the municipality will not have to put as many establishments on that webpage as contact tracers have been able to keep up with the workload.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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