Father Joe’s agency records COVID-19 increase among local homeless people

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Homeless services provider Father Joe’s Villages recorded an increase of COVID-19 cases this week at San Diego’s Golden Hall and Paul Mirabile Center shelters, the charitable agency reported Friday.

As of Friday afternoon, the number of infections detected during regular testing procedures stood at a combined 97 at the two interim housing and care facilities, with the increases likely related to the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant.

Father Joe’s Villages administrators will continue to work closely with county officials to test shelter residents and isolate those who are positive for COVID-19, and will adjust health and safety protocols as necessary to reduce risks of exposure, encourage and offer on-site vaccination, and provide essential lifesaving services to the local homeless community, according to the charitable agency.

While awaiting transition of the unsheltered to county hotel rooms to isolate them, Father Joe’s Villages is undertaking those procedures in a temporary structure in a gated lot on its East Village campus.

The homelessness population has lower-than-average vaccination rates due to general mistrust in and poor experiences with the health care system, according to officials with the shelter agency, who say they are working to address the problem with consistent follow-up, on-site vaccination and one-on- one conversations.

“I express my heartfelt thanks to our staff and healthcare team as they serve our neighbors in need with immense compassion, respect and initiative,” said Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages.

“We continue to prioritize the health and well-being of those we serve and encourage vaccination. As an organization, we will continue to strictly implement health protocols designed to limit the spread of the virus and equip our staff and clients with health and safety services.”

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