Tulsa Shelters Take Precautions To Keep Homeless Safe Amid Coronavirus (COVID-19) Concerns


Tuesday, March 17th 2020, 5:27 pm

By: Justin Shrair


The concern over community spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is also affecting Tulsa’s homeless shelters.

The shelters said they are taking extra precautions to limit the spread.

At John 3:16 Mission in Tulsa, Rev. Steve Whitaker said the entire homeless shelter is being completely cleaned. He said there are more than 200 beds to accommodate people.

"It’s cleaned with Clorox disinfectants, scrubbed, air dried, all the bedding is washed, and everybody sleeps, not in their own clothes, but they sleep in scrubs,” said Whitaker, the CEO and senior pastor of John 3:16 Mission.

Whitaker said his staff is also trying to make sure that people staying in the shelter practice social distancing - whether they are walking around or sleeping.

"We don't have two guys sleeping with their heads right next to each other. They are on opposite ends of the bunk bed," said Whitaker.

At the Salvation Army, Sara Kleinecke said about 200 people stay there every night, and they are also ramping up their cleaning efforts.

"We've been making sure every single hour that we are doing extra sanitizing, all the main areas, and all the door handles. We’ve been doing extra wiping down of tables and things like that," said Sara Kleinecke, the public relations manager for the Salvation Army in Tulsa.

Both shelters said it's important to keep the homeless safe because they are considered some of the most at-risk people.

"If they come in from camping for weeks, or if they've come in from using, we already know that they are immune compromised. They already have underlying health issues," said Whitaker.

Staff also encourage residents to continue washing their hands to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19

"We are just very aware of the situation and we are keeping a pulse on the situation," said Kleinecke.

In a press conference earlier Tuesday, Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said the county is also working to clear out the old juvenile center to create even more housing for the homeless.

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