House of Charity to reopen after norovirus outbreak

House of Charity to reopen after norovirus outbreak

SPOKANE, Wash. - The House of Charity announced Wednesday that it will be allowing people back inside very soon. The organization has had a block of Pacific quarantined between State and Division as they battled a norovirus outbreak.

Crews are currently cleaning the building. As soon as they're finished, homeless people who are no longer infected will be allowed back in.

"We're going to get back to normal operations at the House of Charity," Executive Director Robert McCann said during a Wednesday press conference.

The Spokane Fire Department and Regional Health District are involved in getting the building operational again.

"Cleaning the entire building so that we can reoccupy safely and continue to segregate the sick versus the not sick," Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.

The fire department says the block of Pacific they've had blocked off will continue to be closed and tents will remain in place for those who are sick. They say they hope to have everyone back in the building soon.

"These are folks who are already suffering with the characteristics of homelessness that we all know too well and then to be sick on top of that is really just grueling," McCann said.

Catholic Charities, which runs the House of Charity, said this has been a tough process for their staff as well.

"More than half our staff is sick," McCann explained. "So we've had to call in partners from all other partners, other agencies, but we're getting ahead of this."

Crews have done their best to keep the norovirus contained, but say there is no guarantee it didn't escape the quarantined zone. They say there shouldn't be too much concern to the public, though.

"The most important piece is norovirus is easily spread, but is also easily preventable," Susan Sjoberg, Regional Public Health Emergency and Response Manager, said. "With good hand washing, we can prevent further spread of this outbreak."

The House of Charity said keeping everyone quarantined has been very expensive. They expect the total cost will be around $30,000 and are encouraging anyone who wants to help to donate on their website