5 homeless with COVID-19 referred to Aurora’s hotel for homeless

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AURORA | Aurora’s undisclosed quarantine hotel for people experiencing homelessness opened Wednesday for its first five residents with COVID-19.

Bob Dorshimer, chief executive officer of Mile High Behavioral Healthcare, said University of Colorado Hospital referred five homeless people to the hotel the first reported COVID-19 cases among Aurora’s homeless population, who are considered more vulnerable to the virus and its effects. The five people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Dorshimer said.

Officials are not disclosing the quarantine hotel’s location to protect the privacy of its residents.

Shelly McKittrick, the City of Aurora homelessness program director, organized the 120-room hotel as a place for homeless people and others who would be hard-pressed to quarantine safely whether living on the street, staying in Aurora homeless shelters or living in a small apartment packed with other people.

People referred to the hotel could stay there for weeks to wait out the virus and avoid infecting other people, with access to food, amenities and quick transport to a hospital if need be.

Dorshimer said 12 emergency relief staff are ready to work at the hotel after completing a training. Comitis Crisis Center personnel, part of Mile High Behavioral Healthcare, are staffing the hotel.

Comitis Crisis Center, near the intersection of East Montview Boulevard and Victor Street, and the nearby Aurora Day Resource Center are also activating big, wedding-style tents now open 24 hours a day. The tents are stocked with heaters and bunk beds. Together, 30 people can stay in the tents safely following social distancing guidelines, making more room for people staying inside the shelters with less risk of exposure.

Dorshimer also recommended Aurorans sign up for Mile High’s text alert system, where he sends updates about facility operation times and the availability of resources. To sign up, text “warmup” to 313131.