Local homeless shelter's COVID-19 plans as winter arrives

“I’d rather be in the shelter than out in the cold, but if it came down to it and how the pandemic is going, I would stay outside,” said Ashley Wiesner, shelter resident.

Posted: Nov 23, 2020 4:15 PM
Updated: Nov 24, 2020 9:37 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) While some people are preparing to go home for the holidays, Ashley Wiesner is sharing her new home with 40 others just like her at the Community Action Partnership Emergency Shelter. 

“I’d rather be in the shelter than out in the cold, but if it came down to it and how the pandemic is going, I would stay outside,” said Ashley Wiesner, shelter resident. 

Wiesner, six months pregnant, came to CAP's shelter for help.

After leaving an abusive relationship and her family losing their home, she needed a place to stay. 

“My mom, my step-dad and his old lady are staying outside right now in the cold on the front porch as we speak right now. They didn’t want me out there getting sick,” said Wiesner. 

While coronavirus cases surge across the country and in St. Joseph, social workers report they haven't seen a positive case from a resident within the emergency shelter. 

“So, we’ve been fortunate enough that during the pandemic we actually haven’t experienced anyone with COVID that’s staying at the shelter,” said Rachael Bittiker, Public Affairs and Community Development Director for Community Action Partnership. 

Bittiker said they have had a guest quarantine at the shelter after "having nowhere to go." 

CAP officials said wearing a mask, social distancing and testing have helped the shelter manage the virus, but Bittiker said it's the homeless individuals isolating themselves from the public that has prevented positive cases.

“They have their own community, right? And a lot of times that’s away from everybody else, for whatever reason, stigmas and things like that. They’re really just staying to themselves,” said Bittiker. 

As more people start heading inside the shelter as the cold weather moves in, CAP is hoping their good luck continues.

The emergency shelter does house a single person quarantine room and are in the process of opening a new room to allow for 20 more people.

“We’re just praying that it doesn’t come to that. We haven't had that happen yet, so hopefully we can continue on that straight path, but we are prepared in case something like that does happen,” said Bittiker. 

CAP said residents showing COVID-19 symptoms are required to get tested before they're allowed back inside. 

The shelter is looking for more breakfast and microwavable food items, as well as blankets, socks and coats. To donate, call 816-233-8281. 

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We started out across the area with a few clouds around as a disturbance passed to the south of the area. Clouds slowly started to clear by the early afternoon hours. Today temperatures were still be above average, but cooler than yesterday with highs in the upper 50s. Temperatures will be back in the 60s this weekend under mostly sunny skies. Winds will be a bit breezy on Sunday with wind gusts up to 25 mph. Wind will remain fairly breezy through the beginning of next week especially on Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures will stay above average next week with rain chances increasing by mid week.
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