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Helena YWCA announces confirmed COVID-19 cases

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Posted at 3:14 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 17:14:25-05

YWCA of Helena announced Wednesday that it has confirmed six cases of COVID-19 among its residents and staff.

The confirmation of cases triggered a response plan that was adopted over six months ago. The plan calls for off-site isolation, quarantine plans and shelter-wide testing.

“Keeping our residents COVID-free is essential to their continued recovery, ability to work, and care for their children. I’m thankful we had time to create a response plan before the virus hit a local shelter,” said YWCA Executive Director Jenifer Gursky, adding that the support from the community has been crucial in serving women and children.

YWCA women and children are all being served by COVID-free YWCA staff and support medical providers. Women and children are currently in three different locations, none requiring medical care at this time, and staff implemented a rotating schedule for on-site care.

The record-high levels of community spread combined with a shelter environment presents unique challenges to preventing and controlling spread of the highly contagious virus. Resident women and their children share common areas such as bathrooms and a kitchen.

Since the beginning of the public health emergency, YWCA of Helena has adopted the following precautions and preventative measures: virtual mental healthcare support, meal delivery to decrease common area traffic, masks for everyone in the building, and extra cleaning support.

YWCA Helena and Lewis and Clark Public Health (LCPH) are in frequent communication. In partnership with LCPH, all staff and residents will be tested on a weekly basis until no new cases occur at the shelter.

Gursky added that if community members would like to help, they are asking for funds to provided ready-made meals and that financial donations are the most flexible in their response efforts.

YWCA Helena is a non-profit organization providing transitional housing and supportive services for homeless women and their children.