Windsor·Video

COVID-19 outbreak closes Downtown Mission, temporary shelter opening as storm looms

An outbreak at Windsor's largest emergency shelter has grown by dozens of cases since Thursday, forcing the Downtown Mission to temporarily close their location and set-up an emergency centre in the city.

The Downtown Mission will operate a temporary shelter at 850 Ouellette Avenue East

The Downtown Mission is the largest emergency drop-in emergency shelter for people in Windsor. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

An outbreak of COVID-19 at Windsor's largest emergency shelter has grown by dozens of cases since Thursday, forcing the Downtown Mission to temporarily close their location and set-up an emergency centre in the city.

"I would describe our current situation as desperate," said Ron Dunn, executive director of The Downtown Mission.

The Downtown Mission locations at 664 Victoria Avenue and 875 Ouellette will be closed temporarily, with all services being run out of the Windsor Public Library's former Central Branch location at 850 Ouellette Avenue East.

As of Monday afternoon, 40 people who use the shelter have tested positive for COVID-19, with 46 tests pending. Sixteen staff members have tested positive with three additional staff members waiting results.

People who have tested positive that were using the shelter are now staying at an isolation and recovery centre run by the City of Windsor and the Welcome Centre for Women. 

The former Central Library branch at 850 Ouelette Avenue in Windsor is being converted to a temporary emergency shelter. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Dunn said that he is not aware of anyone who has tested positive that has required hospitalization.

"The reality is we needed more space ... a facility built for a 100 and we have several hundred," said Dunn of the move to the former library branch.  

Urgent need for help

The 103 bed shelter announced their first positive case during the pandemic last week. 

Dunn said there's an urgent need for volunteers to help prepare the Windsor Public Library's former Central Branch location as a temporary emergency shelter. 

Watch an update from The Downtown Mission's executive director Ron Dunn:

"I will stress this is very temporary. We do not own the building," said Dunn, adding they've entered into an agreement with the owners to use the facility.

The Downtown Mission previously purchased the building at 850 Ouelette Avenue East with plans to permanently move the shelter to the space, but the deal fell through last year.

The rush to set-up the emergency shelter comes as Windsor braces for a forecasted 20 centimetres of snow.

COVID-19 outbreak forces Windsor homeless shelter to temporarily move

CBC News Windsor

3 months ago
2:19
The Downtown Mission's executive director Ron Dunn explains why they're closing and temporarily operating out of 850 Ouellette Avenue. 2:19

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