COLORADO SPRINGS — Normally on cold nights, homeless members of our community might choose to stay in a community shelter. But lately, more and more of those people are having to spend stay at a covid isolation shelter at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium.
“Our homeless community--they fight a lot of battles,” said Travis Williams with the Springs Rescue Mission.
At the Springs Rescue Mission, the elements are one battle they aim to keep people from facing.
“We’ve been averaging about 300 to 325 individuals finding shelter at the rescue mission,” Williams said. “When the temperatures drop, more individuals say we’ve gotta get out of the cold.”
During weeks like this week, the shelter gets crowded. But there’s plenty of room
“We have capacity to shelter 450,” Williams said. “Right now, last night we had about 317. So we do have space for individuals.”
But this year, there’s a new battle facing everyone at the Rescue Mission. In the past month, a few isolated COVID-19 cases have found their way into the shelter for the first time.
“We are starting to get some cases at the rescue mission,” Williams said. “If there’s somebody who is symptomatic or… we check temperature every night so if there’s somebody who has a fever, we say, hey we need you to go over to the isolation shelter.”
That isolation shelter is at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium.
“We have seen 180 individuals go through the isolation shelter since it started in April,” said Jennifer Mariano with the Community Health Partnership.
The shelter--put together through the Community Health Partnership along with other community groups, is open to anyone who has nowhere else to go while isolating with symptoms.
“We saw minimal numbers. On average we were seeing anywhere from 3-5 people in there at a time,” Mariano said.
That was when the shelter first opened. but within the last couple weeks…
“We’re seeing upwards of 25-30 people a day,” she said.
With room for 75, there’s not a huge worry of overcrowding just yet. but there is a concerning trend.
“Before it was… symptoms and then they’d have testing and they might come back negative,” she said. “Now we’re seeing a good majority of those folks coming back positive.”
Mariano said, should the shelter here at the city auditorium ever reach capacity--they will never send someone dealing with covid back out on the streets.
She said they have plans in place to create additional shelters elsewhere.