Loaves & Fishes closes shelter, worker positive for COVID-19

HARLINGEN — Officials have closed the city’s homeless shelter after a worker in the building in which it’s housed tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, officials confirmed the worker’s positive test result, Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Bill Reagan said Friday.

Reagan said two employees who await testing were sent home after displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

One employee was sent home June 17 while the other was sent home Tuesday, he said.

Reagan said his staff will work from home until July 6. The shelter closed on Thursday.

“Many staff members have already been tested for COVID-19,” Reagan posted on Facebook. “We have arranged for the rest of the staff and the shelter residents to be tested next week.”

The shelter is expected to reopen July 8.

“We have been in communication with Loaves and Fishes and will continue to be available to them as they continue to deal with this pandemic,” City Manager Dan Serna stated.

Now, Loaves and Fishes is limiting its meals to dinner, which is being carried out, he said.

Meanwhile, the shelter’s approximately 20 residents have been moved to a hotel, Reagan said, declining to disclose the hotel’s name.

Reagan said new residents will also be housed in the hotel.

“I want to be sure each shelter resident is isolated from others for 14 days just like anybody else who may be exposed to COVID-19,” Reagan said, adding a grant is funding the hotel stay. “We promised the hotel we weren’t sending anyone who’s sick. No shelter resident is showing any symptom right now.”

Reagan said the offices and clinic have been sanitized.

This weekend, staff will sanitize the shelter, kitchen, dining hall and warehouse, he said.