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County to open COVID-19 isolation center for homeless

Center is expected to house around 50 people, open by May 15

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Homeless residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms and need a place to quarantine soon will have a safe space, thanks to funding received by Howard County.

A $380,000 grant from the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) will help establish an isolation center at 625 N. Union St., and it will serve Howard, Tipton, Miami, Cass, and Wabash counties. The center is expected to house about 50 people and target open date is Friday, May 15, or sooner.

“I would like to thank FSSA for this grant, as the isolation center is an important piece of our overall management plan for this virus. We are grateful to be in a position to protect a vulnerable population within our community,” said Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman. “Once again, great organizations in our community have come together to find great solutions which keeps us on the forefront of this fight against the virus.” 

The isolation center will be operated by Howard County government in partnership with Coordinated Assistance Ministries (CAM) and Community Howard Regional Health.

“We are honored to be part of this partnership. The isolation center is essential in allowing us to serve the homeless – the core of our mission,” said Dennine Smith, executive director of CAM.

Referrals for the center will be provided by area medical staff and homeless shelter managers. Homeless individuals who are experiencing symptoms will be tested for the virus. While awaiting test results, they can isolate at the center. In addition, those who have been hospitalized and are ready for discharge but have not completed their quarantine time may do so there.

The Kokomo Rescue Mission will provide lunch and dinner, while breakfast will be prepared by the staff at the center.

“This gives the opportunity for people who reside at the rescue mission to be housed in a safe environment as they recover from the coronavirus and at the same time protect our residents,” said Van Taylor, director of the Kokomo Rescue Mission.