Our COVID-19 Response
Our May 2020 report from Shay, the board chair of Puerto Seguro Safe Harbor:
Here are some of the steps we have taken to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus since the 16th of March:
We distribute flyers with information about Coronavirus and the state hotline, as well as community resources. We’ve also given several presentations to everyone with this information.
Beginning on March 16th, we moved our cafeteria services outside to better protect people. We moved our coffee and tea tables to the intake room, which has a door to the parking lot. We put a table across the doorway so that people do not enter the building, and we have volunteers who get the drinks for people to minimize contact. We use single-use Styrofoam cups. Only staff is touching our coffee pots, carafes, and tea coolers, and staff are wearing gloves and masks. Hot meals are distributed on disposable plates out of this intake door.
We have several volunteers that are hand-sewing facemasks, and we give them away to everyone using our services. We require masks and gloves to be worn by everyone in the building and we distribute them to every person in the parking lot.
We sanitize surfaces several times a day, including doorknobs and light switches, countertops and handles. There is a bottle of hand sanitizer or a hand washing sink at every station.
We require that people stay 6ft apart in the parking lot. We serve lunch to 50-60 people in the span of 2 hours, (between 11am and 1pm) but we have set up chairs that are 6 feet apart. For now, we have eliminated our usual picnic tables and switched to Take-Out containers.
We only have 1 men's shower/bathroom and 1 women's shower/bathroom, so folks sign up for the opportunity to bathe in 15-minute increments between 10am and 1pm. They wait outside in the parking lot for their turn. We require people to wear a facemask when they enter the building. They go straight to the shower, and when they leave, we thoroughly sanitize the shower before the next person goes in. Maintaining hygiene is incredibly important during a pandemic.
We have 3 washers and 3 dryers, but we only have 1 person in the building at a time to put their laundry in a machine or move it, and then they wait outside for the cycle to complete. They wear a mask when they enter the building. The machine is sanitized between uses and at the end of the day.
For case management, we have been sitting down with folks at picnic tables outside, rather than in our offices, while we help them fill out the paperwork required for financial assistance, emergency lodging, and the various other forms of assistance that we provide. We wear masks and gloves while we do this.
We usually have a clothing room that we call our "free boutique" where people can "shop" for clothes, but we closed that down on March 16th and instead opted to have a few essential clothing items available in our intake room that we can hand off to folks as needed. People still need underwear, socks, and occasionally a pair of pants or a t-shirt.
We run an ozone generator in the building after services are complete and all of our staff has left for the day. Ozone generators kill viruses like Covid19 and are used in other settings for sanitation.
A representative from the Health Department is on our board, and we participate in conference calls with the State Health Department and the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness to make sure that we are kept abreast of any changes to regulations or suggestions regarding Covid19 and how to best keep our staff and clients safe.
We follow the CDC recommendations for Homeless Service Providers. We have cross trained our volunteers in different stations to ensure that if we have a decrease in staff, we will be able to compensate and continue to provide services. We have contingency plans for each station. We keep our most vulnerable staff members at the stations where they will experience the least contact with people.
The majority of our staff has been tested for Covid19 and everyone has tested negative.
In the event that someone who uses our services tests positive for Covid19, we are prepared to work alongside the health department to assist in providing meal services and essentials while the individual is quarantined in a hotel room. We are prepared to assist this effort in any way we can, while continuing to provide support to all community members in need.
We are deemed an “essential service” and are exempt from state closures. The CDC recommends that all services continue throughout the duration of this pandemic, even after detectable community spread, and even to people who are coughing or seem ill. Ideally, we would have the option to let all unsheltered people isolate or seek shelter in hotel rooms. We believe housing is healthcare, and our goal is to achieve adequate housing for every person in our community that wants it.
Thank you for your continued support in our efforts to alleviate the strain of poverty in Socorro! The community has been amazing throughout this difficult time, and we could not do it without you. You are very much appreciated by our entire staff and the people who need these resources the most!