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12 residents of St. Joseph's shelter test positive for COVID-19. Most are vaccinated and asymptomatic

  • 1 min to read
View of inside of shelter

A dozen residents of ServiceNet's homeless shelter in the former St. Joseph's High School in Pittsfield have tested positive for COVID-19 and will spend their isolation periods in a state-run facility. The high school's gym has been converted into a common area for guests.

PITTSFIELD — Twelve people staying at ServiceNet’s homeless shelter in the former St. Joseph’s High School have tested positive for COVID-19, with residents set to spend their isolation periods at a state-run site.

The Pittsfield shelter tested residents and staff Monday, after hearing that a resident, who since had left the shelter, had COVID-19, according to Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet’s vice president of shelter and housing. He said the positive results came back Wednesday.

“Transportation is coming from the agency that runs the isolation hotel, so, they will transport those folks,” Sacchetti told The Eagle on Wednesday afternoon. He said the isolation site was in Eastern Massachusetts.

Almost all the residents who tested positive are asymptomatic, he said.

He said almost all the people living at the shelter are vaccinated, with “maybe one or two that weren’t.” He did not provide the vaccination breakdown for the 12 guests who tested positive.

The majority of the residents received mRNA vaccines through the Community Health Programs vaccine van, he added, and the van also had been providing booster shots.

Before transportation to the isolation site, positive residents were being kept in a separate location from those who had tested negative, Sacchetti said. The shelter plans to retest everyone who received a negative result, staff and residents included, Friday.

Sacchetti said ServiceNet also has rapid tests on hand for anyone who becomes symptomatic.

The positive tests come as cases continue to rise sharply across the Berkshires and the commonwealth.

“I’m not surprised by this outbreak,” Sacchetti said. “There’s other shelters that are having 15 to 20 people all positive at the same time. It kind of mirrors what’s going on across the state right now. Anywhere where there’s people congregating, they’re going to be at risk.”

Sacchetti said residents were not required to remain at the shelter while they waited for test results to come back.

“It’s impossible to tell people to stay there,” he said. “We work with people about how to keep themselves safe, how to keep others safe. There’s this expectation we can just lock people up in the shelter, and we can’t do that.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most fully vaccinated people without symptoms do not need to quarantine.

Francesca Paris can be reached at fparis@berkshireeagle.com and 413-447-7311, ext. 239.

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