Shreveport homeless shelter takes extra precautions to protect guests from coronavirus

The Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission is keeping its doors open to protect its guests during...
The Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission is keeping its doors open to protect its guests during the coronavirus pandemic.(Christian Piekos)
Updated: Mar. 20, 2020 at 8:43 AM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - During a time when unnecessary risks aren’t an option, one homeless shelter is making sure its most important assets are protected from COVID-19.

The Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission typically provides care for around 125 people, right now they are now taking in guests all day. The non-profit has 266 beds.

“We don’t want anybody out on the streets with all the stuff that’s going on, we are working on a case-by-case basis,” said Larry Otwell, executive director. “We’re checking temperatures, checking where they’re coming from and finding out if they have any underlying illnesses.”

Otwell said his organization is working to make sure the guests practice distancing guidelines, as recommended by the CDC.

“Nobody is sleeping head-to-head, everyone is sleeping head-to-toe,” he noted. “In our multi-purpose room where everyone eats, we’re separating out tables, as they can become benches.”

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After Governor John Bel Edwards asked Louisiana to limit gatherings to no more than 50 people, Otwell said he made sure to make sure his organization can serve its guests.

“We are a homeless shelter, so we can’t close,” he added. “We still fall under the regulations of hospitals or nursing home.”

After local casinos announced they’d be shutting down while the coronavirus pandemic persists, Otwell said employees who’ve been laid off have found themselves at the Rescue Mission.

“Now, it’s starting to seem like we’re seeing more people saying, ‘hey, I need to get off the streets and come into a safe place,” he mentioned. "We have quarantined rooms set aside if we do get anybody that has flu-like symptoms, or anything, really.’

The Rescue Mission is not taking any volunteers at the moment; it’s just too risky. But, they still need community financial support, so they can still be a haven for a population in need of a roof over their heads.

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