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One postive COVID-19 case from homeless shelter mass testing

Mass testing for the COVID-19 virus last week among people experiencing homelessness at the Northside Aztlan Community Center (NACC) and other local agencies has produced a single positive case.

The individual who tested positive was a guest at the NACC and is now staying at an isolation and recovery site operated by the Health District of Northern Larimer County until fully recovered and safe to return to congregate shelters.

In all, tests for the virus that causes COVID-19 were administered to 219 guests at the NACC, Catholic Charities, and Fort Collins Rescue Mission. An additional 83 shelter staff and volunteers were tested, with no positive results.

The tests were conducted Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Complete results became available today.

Testing was performed by the Health District, which obtained 400 test kits from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Health District has been overseeing infection control measures at the NACC, including routine temperature and symptoms checks. In addition, it operates offsite housing where people experiencing homelessness who are symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19 can remain isolated until they have recovered.

“These test results are very encouraging and suggest that a combined community effort to help prevent spread of COVID-19 among unhoused individuals has paid off,” said Dr. James Stewart, medical director for the Health District. “This mass testing effort was important, allowing us to identify and isolate any person with a positive test result in order to interrupt the further spread of COVID-19.”

Prior to this mass testing program, 27 guests at the NACC who were showing signs of illness were tested for the COVID-19 virus, with only one positive result. Due to the possibility of false negative results, guests with COVID-19-like symptoms were moved into an isolated recovery area.

Since March, a coalition of agencies has worked together to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.  The collaboration has involved Homeward Alliance, Catholic Charities, Fort Collins Rescue Mission, the Health District, City of Fort Collins, SummitStone Health Partners, Homeward2020, and Precision Security. A centerpiece of the effort has been the use of the NACC as a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness.