14 cases of COVID-19 in Peterborough’s shelters

There were 14 confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Peterborough’s emergency shelter system as of Wednesday, according to the City.

The 14 individuals are isolating in motels, wrote City spokesperson Brendan Wedley in an email to Peterborough Currents.

As of publication time, Peterborough Public Health is reporting six ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at unnamed congregate living facilities, as the current Omicron-driven pandemic wave continues to grip the region.

Wedley did not reveal which shelters are experiencing outbreaks, citing the privacy of shelter users. Peterborough has four emergency shelters with a total of 91 beds for people experiencing homelessness. 

“People who use the shelter are screened daily before entering the shelter,” Wedley wrote. “If they have symptoms or are a close contact, they are provided with shelter in an isolation setting that is currently in motels.” The province is helping foot the bill for isolation stays, he wrote.

Despite the “challenging situation,” staff are working hard to maintain services, Wedley wrote.

“The City along with its partner agencies are managing to maintain the provision of shelter spaces as well as the arrangement of isolation shelter care for people due to COVID-19.”

Extreme cold alerts increase shelter need

Plummeting temperatures in the Peterborough region this week have made the need for shelter space more dire.

During a frostbite advisory on Tuesday, Mayor Diane Therrien tweeted that service bans against shelter users were being temporarily suspended. 

“I asked several staff members this today and they confirmed that people should not be denied service in this weather,” Therrien tweeted.

In the first three months of 2021, Peterborough shelters issued bans to 77 people, according to data Peterborough Currents obtained through a freedom of information request. Bans vary in length, from two hours to several months.

Banning an individual from a shelter is “at times the only option when dealing with a complex situation,” according to the City documents.

Currents reached out to the mayor’s office for more information about the suspension of service bans on Wednesday, but did not receive a reply.

With more frigid temperatures on the way this week, the city is extending operating hours of the One Roof Community Centre on Friday and Saturday. 

Environment Canada forecasts lows of – 25°C on Friday night and – 24°C on Saturday night.

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