Salvation Army case workers in Austin speak out after someone tests positive for COVID-19

AUSTIN, TEXAS (KXAN) — Case workers for the Salvation Army are concerned for their safety after one of their clients tested positive for the Coronavirus.

KXAN reported Friday that the person was sleeping in the same room with 19 others in the downtown homeless shelter.​ KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout spoke to the case workers and the shelter about what’s being done to keep people safe.​

“We are cleaning our shelter, including the downtown shelter more often than usual,” said Corey Leith, Downtown Salvation Army Communications Director. “We’re sanitizing the beds, we’re using social distancing and we’re making sure people are abiding by the six foot rule.”

After someone at the shelter tested positive for COVID-19 Friday, case workers are saying more needs to be done. ​

“It just seems to be business as usual. There’s no concern for the spread,” said a Salvation Army case worker. “We just have so many in that shelter.”

This case worker says she was in direct contact with the person who tested positive for about an hour the day the person started showing symptoms. She’s now quarantined, along with 19 others who shared a dorm with the person who tested positive.

“The people who were in the dorm with this individual were asked to move into our safe sleep area,” said Leith. “That is a secluded area with multiple bathrooms, multiple restrooms. That was the best way to make sure people weren’t coming in contact with other people.”

​​These case workers, however, say they’re still meeting with clients face to face. They don’t feel protected and they say those who use the shelter leave in the morning and come back at the end of the day.​​

“As of this afternoon our supervisor was unable to give an answer as to whether or not we would still be required to meet face to face with clients,” said a Salvation Army case worker.

Salvation Army officials say otherwise.

​”As of two weeks ago, when the Salvation Army came out with their protocol for COVID-19 is when we stopped doing face to face interaction with our clients,” said Leith.

​​The Salvation Army says health and safety is their number one priority. They’re continuing to work with the health department.

​”Unfortunately this is a terrible situation that happened at the Downtown shelter,” said Leith. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to their friends and family.” ​

The Salvation Army says they’re still trying to identify who may have come in contact with this person. They do have a lock down policy, and they have enacted their isolation unit protocol. Those who have come contact will quarantine for 14 days. ​

Downtown Salvation Army: Austin, Texas.

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