Brother Francis Shelter says no guests have tested positive for COVID-19 since early September

Brother Francis Shelter says no guests have tested positive since early September
Brother Francis Shelter says no guests have tested positive since early September(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 7:14 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - David Rittenberg, program director at the Brother Francis Shelter, said with the exception of one staff member, there have been no positive COVID-19 cases at the Brother Francis Shelter since early September. That’s a big change from mid-August when over 100 people tested positive and at least one person died.

Rittenberg said the shelter has taken precautions to keep people safe, including limiting the number of guests from 240 down to about 75. Instead of the floor, guests sleep on beds at least six feet apart, and if they want to leave the shelter, they have to sign a pass.

“It’s a pass where they indicate where they are going to go, what they are going to be doing and what time they are going to be coming back,” said Rittenberg. “If there’s ever an incident or an outbreak at one of those places or with one of our guests we have documentation of where somebody went and when they were there.”

Rittenberg said shelter staff are getting tested once a week and tests are offered to guests twice a week. But guests who once tested positive aren’t taking them. Rittenberg said health officials are recommending they wait 90 days after their recovery to test again, which means many will test in November.

Having fewer people at the shelter has other advantages, according to Rittenberg, who said shelter guests are reporting better sleep and fewer problems.

“We are able to work with more people one-on-one. We haven’t had to enforce any of our behavioral expectations in quite a while,” he said. “The amount of negative interactions that we’ve had has been going way, way down”

Rittenberg said the shelter can always use donations of warm clothing, but also food, now that they’re providing three meals a day. They’re looking for organizations that could donate a lunch or breakfast to feed about 75 people. For more information contact Molly Cornish at

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