King County and Public Health have turned a former Econo Lodge motel into an emergency isolation/quarantine facility on Central Avenue in Kent. File photo

King County and Public Health have turned a former Econo Lodge motel into an emergency isolation/quarantine facility on Central Avenue in Kent. File photo

King County reports 27 coronavirus cases in homeless shelters

County has provided 60 motel vouchers so far for quarantining homeless individuals.

King County health officials report 27 positive COVID-19 virus cases among the homeless population amid ongoing efforts to serve people with no place to self-isolate or quarantine.

During a media conference call April 8, officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County said the 27 positive cases came from homeless people who were tested in 12 shelters. Of those positive cases, 12 came from the Lazarus Center in Seattle and six cases came from a shelter space at Boeing Field (King County International Airport), officials said.

The county also has three sites for isolation and quarantine so far to serve the homeless, including motels in Kent and Issaquah as well as modular buildings in North Seattle. A site in White Center is still in development, and Harborview Medical Center is in the process of opening an isolation center in Seattle, according to health officials.

TJ Cosgrove, division director of the county’s Community Health Services Division, said “strike teams” are doing on-site assessments at homeless shelters when there’s a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Testing supplies have been prioritized to serve this segment of the population in shelters along witha walk-up clinic in downtown Seattle and mobile walk-up testing, he said during the conference call.

In addition to creating 6 feet of distance between bed occupants at shelters, the county has also offered an initial round of 60 motel vouchers in an attempt to get vulnerable homeless individuals with health problems into safe bedding before they become ill, said Leo Flor, director of the county’s Department of Community and Human Services.

The county also reports an increased spread in hepatitis A among the homeless population — a condition that has been attributed to limited bathroom access and unsanitary conditions.

“There’s no substitute for keeping people healthy in the first place,” Flor said during Wednesday’s conference call.

Flor said he expects the homeless population will require this type of assistance for months. The cost for these operations entail round-the-clock medical treatment, behavioral health assistance, security and more.

“We do not think we’ve reached the peak of this,” Flor said Wednesday, noting that the total cost will likely exceed the county’s recent appropriation of about $18 million to serve the homeless population during the coronavirus crisis. “We don’t know how long the response will go.”




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology.
EPA loans King County $96.8 million to prevent untreated water from spilling into Puget Sound

Loan comes a week after an over 10 million gallon overflow into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Courtesy photo
Survey shows rent debt to be disproportionately distributed among minorities

More than half of Black renters surveyed said they owed rent money from previous months.

Photo courtesy of South Sound News
2-year-old child, woman rescued from Auburn house fire

Fire started in the garage around 11:40 p.m. Jan. 20 near the 30100 block of 50th Lane S. in Auburn.

File photo
Toy thief uses pepper spray at Auburn grocery store

Typically, the daily log of police activities the Auburn Police Department forwards… Continue reading

Kent Hay, Auburn’s Outreach Program Administrator, explores homeless encampments last fall in Auburn. File photo
Auburn to continue agreement over day and night homeless shelters

In mid-2018, the City of Auburn began a partnership with the Auburn… Continue reading

File photo
Kid blows up power transformer with bow and arrow | Auburn police blotter

Auburn police responded to the following calls for service, among many others,… Continue reading

Firefighters give aid to a cat while responding to an apartment fire Jan. 15 in the 1200 block of Auburn Way South. Photo courtesy of Valley Regional Fire Authority
Firefighters respond to Auburn apartment fire | Fire blotter

Between Jan. 11 and Jan. 17, the Valley Regional Fire Authority responded… Continue reading

File photo
Mayor to negotiate leases for land at Auburn airport

City has long-term goal of attracting private development to the airport.

National Guard troops, pictured Jan. 11 at the state Capitol in Olympia, have been on standby in case of violent protests. (Photo by Roger Harnack, Cheney Free Press)
At the state Capitol, a quiet day amid heightened security

There were no protests or arrests as troopers patrolled and the National Guard assumed a lower profile.

Most Read