YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has health officials concerned with people being within close proximity of others but what does that mean for shelters like the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley?
On Friday, the nonprofit announced donors, volunteers and other visitors will have new rules to follow.
“The first change is anyone who is currently experiencing any sort of illness here in the Mission, we require them to seek medical attention immediately,” said John Muckridge, CEO of the Rescue Mission.
Six people at the Mission have been diagnosed with an illness such as influenza, pink eye and pneumonia. No one has tested positive for COVID-19.
Residents and workers have their temperatures taken. Anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is not allowed in and must go to the hospital or a care center.
The Rescue Mission serves meals three times a day, which will now be available for takeout only.
“What we are doing there is not allowing public clients to come, sit down for our meals like we normally do but we are providing them meals to go,” Muckridge said.
He said hourly cleaning and disinfecting are taking place throughout the Mission.
The Mission is also changing how it takes in new residents.
“We have instituted a two-step process, so if someone wants to come in, they are to give us a call and go through a phone interview process first,” Muckridge said.
He said the goal with that is to determine if they are in actual need of emergency shelter and if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
If you need help, call 330-744-5485 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a phone interview. There will be no walk-in interviews.
Another change affects non-residents of the Mission.
“We stopped allowing any volunteers to come in, donors to come in and folks that come in for tours and drop off donations as well,” Muckridge said. “We are ending that until at least April 13.”
Right now, there about 110 residents at the Mission. According to the order from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Thursday, the Mission is exempt from the rule that limits gatherings to under 100 people. According to Muckridge, no public health officials have not contacted the Mission about limiting the number of people it can serve.