Durham homeless shelter reports 4 positive cases of COVID-19

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Officials with the Durham Rescue Mission confirm that four residents at the women’s shelter have tested positive for COVID-19.

Rob Tart, the chief operating officer for the Durham Rescue Mission, said a woman and her three children tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

The mother was tested first after a staff member discovered the woman had a fever during a temperature check. 

At that point, the woman and her three children were placed in quarantine.

“She had flu-like symptoms, that’s what caused us to get her tested,” Tart said.

The tests for the woman and her three children all came back positive.

Tart said the Durham County Health Department quarantined eight to ten other individuals at the shelter who were in close contact with this family.

Nicole Scoma, a resident of the women’s shelter, said she was quarantined and tested for the coronavirus.

“I actually just came out of quarantine,” Scoma said. “I was tested on Tuesday and it came back negative so I’m out.” 

Tart said by now more than 50 people at the women’s shelter, which include residents and staff, have all been tested for the coronavirus. So far, he said no other tests have come back positive. 

“It’s really miraculous that we haven’t had more,” Tart said.

Tart said these are the first confirmed COVID-19 cases at one of their shelters since the pandemic started.

He said the staff at both the women’s and men’s shelters have worked to keep the shelters clean and they are socially distancing everyone as much as possible. 

“Where we normally would pack a lot of people into a dining room, we’re limiting each table to two chairs,” Tart said.

He said they have also provided at least two face masks to all of their residents and they are hoping they will not have any more cases.

“It’s really an answer to prayer and a testament to the fact that we are trying our best to keep it clean,” Tart said.

Tart said when the pandemic first started, the Durham Rescue Mission quit taking in new clients to minimize the chance of the spread of the virus.

He said they began accepting new clients when Phase Two of reopening began in North Carolina last month.

However, due to the recent outbreak, Tart said they are not going to take any new clients or allow any visitors in the shelter until the Durham County Health Department says it is safe to do so.

The family who tested positive for the coronavirus remains in quarantine at the shelter.

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