North Shore Homeless Quarantine Site at Salem High School Fieldhouse

As part of Lynn and the re­gion’s collective response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, the Cities of Lynn, Beverly, and Salem have worked jointly with the support of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), North Shore Community Health, Lynn Community Health, the Northeast Homeland Securi­ty Regional Advisory Council (NERAC), and Lifebridge to es­tablish a temporary quarantine location for the region’s home­less population to be kept safe during the emergency.

 The site is located at the Sa­lem High School field house on Willson Avenue and is opening the week of April 6thfor the duration of the emergency. Res­idents served by the Lynn Shel­ter Association, Lifebridge, and Riverhouse will be located at the facility for their own protection and for the protection of the gen­eral population, to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Establishing a temporary quarantine location for the most vulnerable populations has been a shared priority of the Mayors of the North Shore since the on­set of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Thomas McGee of Lynn. “I want to especially thank those from our communities who have put many hours of work into the planning and launching of this operation. Together, we will do everything we can to ensure that those who face housing insecuri­ty, will have a dignified place to shelter, as they are affected by the spread of COVID-19.”

“While hundreds of thousands of residents across our three communities have the ability to shelter at home during this cri­sis, this smaller population of a few dozen individuals do not have that luxury,” said May­or Kim Driscoll of Salem. “We have a shared responsibility to both them and to the rest of our constituents to meet this need thoughtfully, compassionately, and cooperatively.”

“We’ve all been working to­gether to protect all our residents, including our most vulnerable who live in congregate settings like those housed in our shel­ters,” said Mayor Mike Cahill of Beverly. “This space at the Salem High School fieldhouse will provide critical protection for our homeless neighbors, al­lowing those possibly exposed to COVID-19 to self-quarantine in a safe space. I am grateful for Mayor Driscoll’s leadership and for great partners like Mayor Mc­Gee, the team at Lifebridge, and our state partners, among many. We are committed to supporting this effort in every way possi­ble.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Why have a quarantine site and why doesn’t each City have its own?

Quarantine of the homeless population is not possible in the existing shelters given space limitations and the need for safe social distancing. Due to the lim­ited availability of resources for quarantine sites, the determina­tion was made to approach the challenge on a regional and co­operative basis.

Why is this facility in Salem and not in Lynn or Beverly?

The Salem site has the appro­priate layout to meet the needs for this population, including suitable space for personal ac­commodations, health services, and isolation. The fieldhouse can be physically separated from the rest of the high school, has scal­able space in the event opera­tions need to expand, and is near North Shore Medical Center, should medical services from the hospital be urgently required.

Will there be infected people here?

This is aquarantinefacility, not anisolationor medical facil­ity. Individuals at the fieldhouse are those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 but may have been in proximity to those who have. Where other people in those circumstances can quaran­tine comfortably at home, these individuals do not have that op­tion and would either be in a more dense shelter setting, where they risk exposing other guests and staff of the shelter, or simply out in the community, where they risk exposing more of the general population.

What happens if someone at the facility becomes sick with COVID-19?

If someone at the site tests positive for COVID-19 they will be transported by MEMA and the state Department of Pub­lic Health to one of the state’s homeless isolation facilities, the nearest of which is, currently, in Lexington. The City does not anticipate that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will re­main at the fieldhouse. While they await transportation, these individuals will be separated from the rest of the facility’s pop­ulation in a different room.

Who is going to staff this fa­cility?

The staffing of this facility will be a combination of Emer­gency Medical Technicians from Cataldo Ambulance and the lo­cal homeless service provider shelter staff from the three com­munities. These employees may be further supported by social work students from Salem State University and other community members who have a social work background and/or experience in this field.

Will individuals at the facil­ity have medical and supportive services?

Yes. This is a higher needs population than the general pop­ulation and all the necessary services they would typically re­ceive at their regular local shelter will be provided at the quaran­tine site. This includes behav­ioral health and other supportive services. These services will be provided by the same specialists who serve them in their regular local shelter location.

Can anyone walk in to the site?

No. All guests will be referred in through the local shelters and organizations who work directly with homeless individuals. Peo­ple who simply show up will not be admitted.

How are these individuals be­ing transported to the facility?

Each community is arranging transportation on its own with their shelter providers. Trans­portation will be carried out by small-capacity vehicles in order to maintain safe social distancing for all.

Will there be security at the facility?

Yes, local police departments will be providing appropriate monitoring and/or details to en­sure the safety of both the gen­eral public and the quarantined residents.

If someone at the facility has the virus, will the fieldhouse be cleaned? How long would the vi­rus last on the surfaces there?

Whether or not any individu­al at the facility tests positive for COVID-19, the entire building will be sanitized and disinfect­ed after the quarantine period concludes. In addition to this, routine cleaning will take place throughout the facility’s use as a quarantine site. On most of the hard surfaces of the building, the COVID-19 virus could live for three to four days, if not treat­ed; however, the plan is to treat all surfaces regularly. No School Department employees will be responsible for on-site cleaning or maintenance.

Are Salem taxpayers paying for this?

Any costs incurred to operate this site will be shared jointly by the three communities and then reimbursed by FEMA, due to the federal emergency declaration.

Will this quarantine site still be operational if/when school re­opens?

No. Schools would only be reopened if there was no lon­ger a public health risk from COVID-19. In that event, the quarantine site would also no longer be necessary and would be closed and its residents returned to their regular local shelter sites in the three communities.

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