The COVID-19 emergency continues to present evolving challenges to all of us at DESC, but I’m proud to share that we continue to rise to these challenges thanks to our incredibly dedicated team of employees and our many partners in the community.
Late last week, we were notified that a DESC client had a confirmed positive COVID-19 test in one of our shelters. Since then, we have learned of four more clients who had confirmed positive tests. We are ensuring infected individuals can isolate and get appropriate care. We’re also closely monitoring staff and clients who had close contact with the individuals with positive tests.
Fortunately, we put
in place many preventative measures and a robust response protocol in anticipation of this inevitable circumstance. DESC’s new COVID Response Team of existing medical and program staff provided rapid support to staff and clients, and coordinated closely with King County Public Health to do a thorough assessment and make sure all clients and staff are cared for.
We hope we will avoid having a large amount of COVID illness at DESC, and the actions of everyone at DESC are helping us avoid the worst outcomes. Staff across our programs have been vigilant in protecting our clients and one another every day. Through it all, we continue to provide essential care to thousands of people in our community living with serious disabilities who have experienced homelessness.
New this week, we are relocating 200 shelter guests from our largest congregate settings into a hotel in Renton. Providing individual rooms will help people more effectively distance from others and reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. We anticipate these moves will happen by the end of the week. Read more in the King County news release.
Thankfully, we received immense community support for our exponential increase to our meals program. Thanks to donations from people like you, support from OSL and Northwest Harvest, and tremendous in-kind support from Farestart, we’re able to provide three meals per day to every client in our care for the immediate future. We’re proud to be in a community that cares about our clients’ needs.
Elsewhere in our community, however, thousands of people are still living unsheltered. Given the
deplorable living conditions unsheltered people already deal with, we are gravely concerned about their health and safety. Our outreach teams are on the front lines in providing basic support for people while they are outside, and we’re trying to do more to help bring more people indoors and into individual spaces where they can appropriately distance from others. So many supports that unsheltered people rely on are suddenly unavailable, including dry spaces indoors at places like libraries and friendly businesses, and their circumstances are even more desperate than they were just a month ago. We''re advocating to leaders at the city and county level to help, and hope to expand access to hotel/motel spaces and other shelter spaces that will help protect them. We’re so grateful for the cooperation we’ve already seen in these endeavors, but more must be done to protect our
region’s most vulnerable people.
Many people have asked if there’s anything you can do. Right now, we have the volunteers that we need to make masks, deliver food and supplies, and otherwise support our response efforts. Additionally, we’re trying to reduce the number of people who go in and out of our client spaces so we can limit potential virus transmission chains.
On the other hand, our expenses have increased more than $300,000 per month in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Everything from additional cleaning supplies, to new technology for remote work, to paying staff for COVID-related absences, to transitioning to multiple new locations to reduce the risk of exposure. All of it comes at significant financial cost. Very generous
support from wonderful partners and community members is keeping us afloat for now and we know we will only get through this crisis together.
Thank you for your continued support of our important work.