In a press conference Thursday, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the YW Sheriff King Home shelter for women and children.
The announcement was met with questions regarding the conditions at shelters like Sheriff King, as the facilities are exempted from the two-metre distancing rule in the placement of sleeping mats.
Dr. Hinshaw emphasized the need to protect those in congregated settings like continuing care centres and shelters, and said the exemption regarding the distancing for sleeping mats was a careful consideration.
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“If we went to two-metre spacing for sleeping arrangements in all shelters across the province, it would reduce the sleeping capacity by half,” explained Dr. Hinshaw.
“Especially because we are seeing an atypically cold April, trying to weigh out the risks of having people not have places to sleep versus the risks of being in a space where some of these other measures can be put in place and spread can be mitigated […] that was a decision I made based on conversations with my team, and one we will continue to be looking at.”
Those at the shelters are being asked to sleep head to toe, allowing for more diagonal space between heads.
Shelter residents who are sick are required to maintain two metres, even for sleeping spaces, and there are designated isolation spaces set up in shelters or in separate locations.