Homeless shelter in Vegas closes after client tests positive for COVID-19

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John Locher / AP

A worker cleans and disinfects playground equipment due to the coronavirus at a park Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Published Wed, Mar 25, 2020 (4:01 p.m.)

Updated Wed, Mar 25, 2020 (8 p.m.)

A Las Vegas homeless shelter is shutting its doors and health officials began screening untold numbers of people who used it and a nearby city relief facility, after a man who sought services there tested positive for COVID-19, the Southern Nevada Health District announced today.

The men’s shelter at the Catholic Charities, which houses about 500 homeless, is temporarily closing as a precaution, officials said.

City officials, who passed laws recently banning sleeping on public thoroughfares, closed a road off Las Vegas Boulevard to make room for up to 750 displaced homeless people to spend the night.

The man accessed services there and at the Homeless Courtyard, which is operated by the city of Las Vegas, while he was displaying symptoms. It wasn’t clear when he was infected by the coronavirus or when he tested positive, but officials said he no longer posed a risk to anyone.

Health District investigators were trying to track down volunteers, staff and clients who may have had “repeated and prolonged exposure” to the patient.

“The risk (of infection) is low for people who had brief contact with an infected individual,” officials wrote in a news release. ”People who are asymptomatic can continue to work.”

Those who have identified possible symptoms, which include dry cough, fever and difficulty breathing, were asked to self-isolate at home. The Health District is coordinating COVID-19 testing with them.

It wasn’t clear where homeless individuals who may have had exposure were expected to self-isolate.

Catholic Charities was working with Las Vegas and Health District officials to find a temporary site to relocate services.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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