Open Door Mission takes steps to prevent spread of COVID-19

Posted at 8:50 PM, Mar 24, 2020

OMAHA. NEB. (KMTV) - — Schools, churches and restaurants aren't the only places implementing major changes due to COVID-19.

One of Omaha's most impactful shelters, The Open Door Mission, has new safety measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"We just feel like the more that we practice it then it'll just come naturally to us and so we are just following those CDC questions, [and] the protocol because we don't have anybody quarantined in isolation, waiting for a test result or a positive COVID-19 so we're just trying to keep it that way," CEO and President of the Open Door Mission Candace Gregory said.

Congressman Don Bacon visited the facility Tuesday afternoon.

"Our country's been through worse many times and we can come through this and we will do so, but we have to do it as a unified team," Don Bacon said.

Bacon got a first-hand look at how the Open Door Mission is keeping its guests safe.

"I think we're still on that up swing," he said." But we have taken every precaution that I think we really take realistically to help prevent the spread."

The mission has 917 safe shelter beds.

The mission tells 3 News now, about 500 people are living there and thanks to measures taken 6 weeks ago, no one there has shown symptoms or tested positive for the virus.

"We are following all of the CDC guidelines to the best of our ability," Gregory said. "We are doing social distancing; only four people to a table and you can imagine when you're serving thousands of meals ... meal time's taking a little bit longer."

Gregory says guests go through a screening process, answering several questions and getting their temperature checked before entering the facility.

Congressman Bacon also had his temperature checked during his visit.

Gregory tells 3 News Now, cutting 15,000 volunteers for the time being was a tough but necessary decision.

"All of our administration and development staff have joined us on the front lines to try to provide quality care whether it be in our children and youth programming, [or] in the kitchen," she said.

The mission says it's prepared should someone develop symptoms.

"We actually have had to prepare one of our vans to be a our designated COVID-19 van so we've lined it with plastic inside, lined the seats with plastic and then we've even got a back drop so that the driver is separate from the person they're transporting, so that there's no chance of a droplet reaching them," Gregory said.

Congressman Bacon says he hopes to improve legislation being discussed right now, offering additional funding for nonprofits.

"You can only do what you can afford so their budget's being hurt by this as well, which means it has an impact on the back side for our community because there's a cost when people start going to the emergency room you know as an example that raises the cost," he said.

The mission says it averted 600 ER visits last year thanks to its clinic, which treats people daily.

The mission says right now it needs toilet paper and bottles of water because its down to just a 6-week supply.

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