BOONE — Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina, in conjunction with High Country Community Health and AppHealthCare, announced May 24 the facility is currently managing an active cluster of COVID-19 positive cases, both in shelter and encampments.

AppHealthCare spokesperson Melissa Bracey said as of May 24 there have been 16 total COVID-19 cases at the ongoing outbreak at the Hospitality House. Hospitality House Chief Development Director Todd Carter said High Country Community Health was on site May 25 to conduct more testing.

In keeping with internal protocols, the family wing at the Brook Hollow Road facility is currently being used as isolation and quarantine quarters for those individuals living at that location. “Most of the positive residents are quarantined inside. Unfortunately a few left to try and manage on their own,” said Hospitality House Executive Director Tina B. Krause. “The word ‘isolation’ can be frightening for some. Hospitality House worked to add additional support and meet basic needs for those who normally live outdoors as well as the few that left since the facility could no longer allow public access to our showers.”

Until further notice, Hospitality House will be limiting access to that facility to staff members, residents who presently live there and student interns. Additionally, any new individuals seeking entrance into the Emergency Shelter or Night-by-Night Shelter programs will need to show proof of a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result within the prior 72 hours.

Rapid and PCR tests are currently being conducted onsite each Tuesday afternoon.

Individuals and families currently experiencing homelessness in the counties of Ashe, Wilkes, Avery, Watauga, Mitchell, Yancey and Alleghany should call (828) 264-1237 and speak with Outreach Coordinator Logan Shaut. Individuals and families currently at risk of losing housing and becoming homeless should call (828) 264-1237 and speak with Homeless Prevention and Diversion Coordinator Marnie Slawson.

“We are taking these necessary steps in order to keep our clients and the community safe,” Krause said “Our diligence with sanitation, mask wearing and social distancing kept the coronavirus away from us for fourteen months; unfortunately, like many businesses in the High Country we are dealing with it inside our doors now.”

Non-resident community members who utilize Hospitality House Day Services — meals, showers, laundry, computer, telephone, lockers, and medical supplies — will not have access to the facility until further notice. The laundry room, public computer, laundry and telephone will be inaccessible during this time.

The Samaritan’s Purse North American Disaster Unit out of North Wilkesboro has temporarily installed a mobile shower unit in the parking lot and two port-a-johns are available outside for nonresident use.

“We are grateful for the quick response and partnership of Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief unit to secure onsite showers and sanitation options for our clients living outside,” Krause said.

Hospitality House previously conducted an onsite vaccination clinic, in conjunction with High Country Community Health, and were in the planning phase of executing weekly onsite vaccines through AppHealthCare, when the cluster was identified.

“We have worked to make sure that our residents have the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Krause said. “However, due to the turnover of night-by-night beds it has made it challenging, as people come and go. We look forward to offering onsite vaccines once this cluster is behind us.”

Grab-n-Go meals from the Hospitality House Community Kitchen will continue to be served in takeout containers, along with coffee, bottled water and disposable cutlery, on their front porch throughout the day to anyone in need of a hot meal.

The Emergency Food Pantry remains open seven days a week from noon to 4 p.m. as a drive-thru service only. Clients accessing the pantry should remain in their vehicle and must be properly wearing a mask at all times.

“We remain undeterred in our mission and are committed to the health, safety and welfare of the homeless population in our seven mountain county region,” said Hospitality House chief development director Todd Carter. “We operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing a vital safety-net for thousands of people in need. We are grateful for the collaborations and partnerships that are enabling us to continue offering these necessary services.”

Community members wishing to donate towels, washcloths, shampoo, toiletries, blankets and other items are encouraged to shop the Hospitality House Amazon Wishlist HospHouse.org/wishlist or drop off items at a table on the rear loading dock then call the front desk (828) 264-1237 ext. 0 making a staff member aware of their donation.

Latest updates and ways to help can be found at HospHouse.org/covid19 or on social media Facebook/Instagram/TikTok: @hosphouse; Twitter @HospHouseNWNC.

Financial donations can be made at HospHouse.org/donate or Venmo @hosphouse; CashApp $hosphouse or PayPal.me/hosphouse.

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