King County Expands Emergency Coronavirus Shelters

Charles Woodman

This article originally appeared on the Seattle Patch

SEATTLE, WA — For many in Seattle and King County, self-quarantining is as simple as staying home, but for those without homes the process is complicated.

To slow the spread of the virus and help homeless residents stay safe, King County is working to add more emergency shelters: giving those residents more space for social distancing and creating places where they can self-isolate or quarantine if necessary.

The county says these moves are critical for slowing the spread of the virus and will help save hospital space for the most high-risk members of the community.

Over the past three weeks the county says they have added 1,893 new shelter spaces. including:

  • 95 beds of emergency shelter.
  • 709 enlarged shelter spaces for better social distancing.
  • 432 beds for isolation and quarantine for those who may have the virus.
  • 612 beds for those who are recovering or do not need urgent care.

King County Executive Dow Constantine says moves like these are necessary to protect everyone:

"We are determined to do all that we can to slow the spread of this virus in our communities and ensure that hospital beds are available for the most seriously ill. We are committed to the proposition that no one will be left behind. Not the old, not the sick, not those who are living in homelessness. We are all in this together, and we have to get each other through it. That is what our community expects, and that is what we will do."'

The county also says they're doing what they can to make sure first responders and volunteers are given the help and support they need to run these new sites. Seattle has cross-trained over 70 city employees to help assist in shelter operation, and is calling in employees from Seattle Parks and Seattle Center to help staff the new emergency shelters. Seattle has also created an isolation and quarantine site for first responders, capable of holding 155 people.

Meanwhile also in Seattle, Harborview Medical Center is turning one of their shelters into a new surge capacity recovery center.