2021-01-04-STJOESHELTER

Cots are spaced apart from each other in one of the converted classrooms at ServiceNet’s homeless shelter in the former St. Joseph’s High School in Pittsfield. A staff member at the shelter has tested positive for the coronavirus.

PITTSFIELD — A staff member at ServiceNet’s winter shelter in Pittsfield has tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee had not been on-site at the shelter, in the former St. Joseph’s Central Catholic High School, since the middle of last week, according to Jay Sacchetti, the organization’s senior vice president of shelter and housing.

Sacchetti said the the individual was never symptomatic at work and stopped coming in after their roommate tested positive. The organization found out about the employee’s positive test on Monday.

“We always are worried,” he said. “You can’t not be worried.”

All staff tested negative last week through a regular surveillance testing program, Sacchetti said. One employee who worked alongside the infected person will not return to work until they have tested negative again, he said.

New admissions at the shelter are paused as the organization works with local health officials. Current residents have not been asked to quarantine, according to Sacchetti.

“They’re going to go out anyway,” Sacchetti said. “We did that at the Northampton shelter, and people just left anyway.”

The shelter typically closes during the day on weekdays, barring extreme cold.

Sacchetti said ServiceNet has the ability to get rapid tests on anyone at St. Joseph’s if they show symptoms. The entire facility is cleaned twice a week.

This is just the second positive test that ServiceNet has seen at its shelters in the last two months, Sacchetti said, after an isolated case a different facility.

“People are good about wearing their masks, staying distant,” he said. “So I think that’s been one of the things that has helped us keep virtually COVID-free.”

Francesca Paris can be reached at fparis@berkshireeagle.com and 510-207-2535.

Francesca Paris covers North Adams for The Berkshire Eagle. A California native and Williams College alumna, she has worked at NPR in Washington, D.C. and WBUR in Boston, as a news reporter, producer and editor. Find her on Twitter at @fparises.