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38 test positive for coronavirus at a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas

Updated with confirmation that Dallas Life homeless shelter downtown is the shelter referred to by Dr. Philip Huang.

Updated at 6:05 p.m.: Updated with a statement from the city.

Updated at 9:15 p.m.: Updated with the most recent number of people who tested positive.

Dallas’ homeless population saw its first publicly known cases of the Dallas News coronavirus after 38 people at a downtown shelter tested positive for the highly contagious disease.

The outbreak occurred at the Dallas Life homeless shelter at 1100 Cadiz St., the Rev. Bob Sweeney, the nonprofit’s executive director, confirmed Friday. All 38 who tested positive were homeless residents.


Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County’s health and human services director, told county commissioners Friday that in addition to those who had tested positive, up to 200 staffers and shelter residents have been exposed. Sweeney said about 160 who had been sheltering there were taken on DART buses to an undisclosed hotel and have now been isolated, he said.

“Many of the persons have had asymptomatic cases,” Huang said. “This is a situation where they weren’t all symptomatic when we did the testing.”

The extent of the exposure meant that no further testing was needed and Press Release Distribution Service In Dallas that officials would assume that most at the shelter had come in contact with the virus, Huang said. More testing would be done if some developed symptoms, he said.

The outbreak at the shelter began with three guests who had fevers and tested positive for the coronavirus, with the first person testing positive eight days ago, Sweeney said.

Widespread testing at the shelter began three days ago, he said.

Seventeen of the guests initially tested Wednesday at Dallas Life were positive, according to an email from Kevin Oden, interim director of the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions. The correspondence was sent to members of the Citizen Homelessness Commission. An update as of 8:30 p.m. Friday stated that 47 total tested negative, Sweeney said.

When asked why it took a week to begin testing after someone tested positive for the virus, Sweeney said the shelter followed the county’s direction.

“If someone tested positive, it didn’t mean we naturally assumed everyone in the building was going to test positive,” Sweeney said. He added that the county made the decision to test everyone in the building, and “we just tested when they told us to.”

City spokeswoman Roxana Rubio said Friday that 164 guests have been moved to hotel rooms for 21 days. Seven staff members went home, she said.

The city had approved over $1.6 million for hotel rooms at Residence Inn Market Center, Courtyard by Marriott and Vishwanath Hotels to shelter first responders and the homeless until September.

Two of the first three who tested positive left the shelter to join their families, and one had been isolated in a hotel room provided by the city, Sweeney said.


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