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Kern homeless shelters take action to to combat COVID-19

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif (KGET) – As more and more people test positive for COVID-19 across California and the nation, the Bakersfield Homeless Center and Mission at Kern County are taking action to ensure their facilities are clean.

At the Mission at Kern Wednesday, where roughly 300 people sleep per night, workers replenished portable hand-washing stations put on campus earlier this month — one of the many actions the mission is taking to protect those who walk onto the campus.

“We really need to be on high alert during this time,” said Mission at Kern Executive Director Carlos Baldovinos. “These are uncertain times for a lot of people, including us, but we are called to serve.”

Baldovinos said, in addition to the hand-washing stations, the shelter is actively monitoring who comes in and out. Additionally, the mission is staggering meal times to ensure the dining room is not filled to capacity, and the facility is ramping up daily cleaning from two times per day to, to now three times per day. Furthermore, the campus has four areas set aisde for quarantine.

“All our staff are here,” Baldovinos said. “We’re asking of people: if you’re not feeling well, stay home. We’re producing the meals. We’re housing the people with the staff that we have. The organization does not stop because of this crisis.”

To the contrary, Baldovinos said, “it’s actually the other side — more needs are being requested of each of us every single day.”

The same applies to the Bakersfield Homeless Center. There, quarantine rooms and portable hand-washing stations are set up.

Louis Gill, Bakersfield Homeless Center CEO, said in addition to COVID-19 prevention efforts, the shelter is dealing with another challenge.

“The biggest impact to us is that at the bakersfield homeless center we are the only specifically family-emergency shelter, and we have almost 100 children that are staying with us,” Gill said noting school closures. “[Children] won’t be in school now, and so our campus is going to be very, very busy for the next several weeks.”

Gill noted the resources used to combat COVID-19 are not cheap, leading to a monthly shortfall of roughly $20,000. Even so, he said the shelter is staying open.

“We’re an emergency service, and we must exist because there is no option for our families, there’s no where else to go.”

The directors of both shelters said, now more than ever, they are in need of donations. Any amount, they added, would be greatly appreciated.

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