2 clients of Calgary's Drop-In Centre test positive for COVID-19

Two clients of the Calgary Drop-In Centre have tested positive for COVID-19, Alberta Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney said Sunday.

She said precautions have been taken and Alberta Health Services is managing the next steps relating to those two cases.

The Drop-In Centre said in an emailed statement that the two people tested positive on Sunday at its main shelter, and are currently in hospital.

"Our priority is the protection of all staff and clients in our shelter sites, and we are taking this situation very seriously. Public health protocols are in place and being followed," Sandra Clarkson, the executive director of the Drop-In, said.

Clarkson said an internal emergency response is being mobilized and that the shelter is taking the lead from AHS.

Everyone in Drop-In Centre buildings is now mandated to wear a mask at all times, and all clients and staff will be tested for COVID-19 starting Sunday night.

Anyone who has tested positive or is suspected to have COVID-19 will be sheltered in an alternative designated space, Clarkson said.

The shelter currently has a call for donations on its website, saying it's in urgent need of personal protective equipment and sanitizer.

In early April, 200 clients of the Drop-In were moved to an overflow shelter at the Telus Convention Centre, to allow the main shelter to reduce its capacity and increase physical distancing.

Sawhney said Alberta is working to increase shelter capacity with 14 additional shelter spaces up and running across the province, and 194 hotel rooms have been identified where people who have tested positive can self isolate.

"We know shelters and surge capacity efforts are a temporary solution but the best outcome is to move people into their own homes," Sawhney said.

The Drop-In is also searching for landlords with rentals in the range of $300 to $900 per month, so it can find homes for 250 Calgarians whose only barrier to housing is financial.

Sawhney also said the province is beginning to test asymptomatic people in homeless shelters, a joint initiative between Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services.

She said more information on that testing will be provided by Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday.