SPOKANE, Wash. – Members of Spokane’s homeless population are camping out at the House of Charity to avoid illness after the norovirus broke out on Friday.
Officials said the viral outbreak is under control.
Around 140 healthy people are being forced to sleep outside in an effort to keep them separated from those who are sick. Nearly 60 people who are sick are sleeping inside the facility.
The Spokane Fire Department, Police Department and Regional Health District are currently working with House of Charity staffers to keep the sickness from spreading.
Local officials are urging people who visited the House of Charity since last Thursday, to come back to the shelter for care. This will also help prevent the spread of the norovirus.
On Saturday night, about 140 people slept in tents outside the House of Charity due to the viral outbreak.
On Saturday morning, around 40 people at the shelter, including patrons and staff, were isolated to one part of the shelter after becoming sick from a norovirus. The number of people showing symptoms of the illness increased to 60 by Sunday afternoon. The Spokane Fire Department said the norovirus is a common, non-life threatening virus. Symptoms of the virus include, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, fever, headaches and body aches.
Shelter leaders said none of the 140 people who stayed there Saturday night showed any symptoms. They said 60 patrons showing symptoms were assessed by medical personnel. Patrons determined to be ill were admitted to the shelter building for overnight accommodation and shelter care. Sick patrons inside the shelter are being fed and hydrated with help from the Spokane Regional Health District and the Spokane Fire Department. Other patrons who are not sick are being fed outside.
House of Charity leaders said separate sanitation facilities have been made available to all patrons with help from American On-Site and the City of Spokane. Providence Health Services has helped launder and deliver sanitized linens, towels and cloth.