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Good Samaritan Emergency Shelter under mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19 outbreak
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Good Samaritan Emergency Shelter under mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19 outbreak

Good Samaritan shelter dining hall

The kitchen/dining hall at the Good Samaritan Emergency Shelter in Santa Maria is shown Monday. The emergency shelter has been under mandatory quarantine since June 28 because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Good Samaritan Emergency Shelter in Santa Maria has been placed under mandatory quarantine after COVID-19 cases were confirmed at the facility, shelter officials announced Monday.

The mandatory quarantine began June 28 under the order of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, according to Good Samaritan spokeswoman Alexis Nshamamba. 

The 130-bed facility is located on West Morrison Avenue and offers 90-day stays for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. The shelter was at capacity as of April

Good Samaritan's announcement did not state the number of cases confirmed thus far at the emergency shelter but stated that no new residents have been symptomatic over the last eight days.

Shelter Executive Director Sylvia Barnard declined to comment Monday on either the number of residents who have tested positive or been hospitalized. 

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department also was unable to confirm the number of cases at the shelter before press time. 

According to department spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz, the Public Health Department is continuing to work with Good Samaritan to track cases and manage the outbreak.

"Testing for contacts has been coordinated as well as isolation of positive cases. This investigation is ongoing," Ruiz said.

Residents who have tested positive are housed in hotel rooms for their isolation period, according to Nshamamba. 

"Good Samaritan is working with local agencies and partners to ensure that medical health, mental health and drug and alcohol treatment continue without disruption to clients in quarantine," Nshamamba said. 

As a result of the mandatory quarantine, the Santa Maria Emergency Shelter is not accepting new residents, and the Lompoc Bridge House is currently prioritizing families for intake. 

According to Barnard, safety measures implemented in March kept COVID-19 from entering shelter locations for a few months, but that slowly changed as the virus' spread grew.

“We have been diligently following all guidelines set forth by the CDC and Public Health, but the reality of this pandemic is that COVID-19 continues to spread and we are now navigating responding to positive cases in our shelter system to get back to zero positive cases as soon as possible," Barnard said.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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