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Posted on: May 1, 2020

Testing of Those Experiencing Homelessness & Shelter Staff/Volunteers Reveals NO COVID-19 Spread

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The Town of Amherst, working in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Bossie of Health Services for the Homeless, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and Craig’s Doors has tested guests, staff, and volunteers at Craig’s Place, the seasonal shelter located at the First Baptist Church in Amherst.

None of those tested were showing symptoms of the disease. The testing is part of an initiative by Cooley Dickinson Hospital to identify COVID-19 in those who reside, work, or serve in congregate settings, which have proven to be particularly susceptible to the rapid spread of the disease.

Forty-nine people were tested on Tuesday by Dr. Bossie of Health Services for the Homeless and her support team. Cooley Dickinson Hospital provided testing supplies, personal protective equipment, and created the testing system for the shelter.

Results came back on Wednesday and Thursday and all test results were negative which means showed none of the Shelter guests, volunteers, or staff requires isolation or quarantine.

Amherst Health Director Julie Federman stated, “We are so grateful for this collaboration with Dr. Bossie, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and the shelter staff at Craig’s Doors. Providing tests for those who have stayed or worked at the shelter is an important step in protecting the health of these individuals and provides more information on the prevalence of the asymptomatic disease.”

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said, “This is such good news for everyone – especially the guests, but also the volunteers and staff. It is testament to the guidance of our Health Director and the good work that the staff of Craig’s Doors did early on in the crisis to achieve social distancing, practice good hygiene including disinfecting areas regularly, to change certain practices, and screen those seeking entrance to the Shelter.”

Federman added, “To test is to treat, so it was critical that we had the Hampshire College site ready to go to provide quarantine with all ancillary services (laundry, cleaning, food, security, staffing) in place. We could not have even done the testing without Hampshire College being there.” The Town will now demobilize this site as part of the Town’s understanding with the College which provided the site for COVID-19 homeless individuals from Craig’s Doors who needed isolation or quarantine.

Craig’s Place is a seasonal, behavior-based shelter that is open from November 1st to May 1st every year. It is able to house 28 individuals every night from 9:30 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. In addition to a safe place and warm bed, staff and volunteers provide hot meals for the guests.

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