Base Camp, Lighthouse Mission Ministries’ homeless service center in downtown Bellingham, has discovered 16 COVID-19 cases among guests. On the evening of Dec. 23, two Base Camp guests tested positive for COVID-19 and a facility-wide test that night revealed 14 more positive cases. No staff tested positive.
All guests who tested positive as well as one close contact have been transferred to Bellingham’s Isolation & Quarantine facility.
Lighthouse Mission continues to follow recommended precautions to keep their guests and staff healthy. Safety protocols developed with the Whatcom County Health Department include monthly facility-wide testing, a negative test requirement for entry and reentry, thorough cleaning each day, required mask wearing among staff and guests, and symptom checks for all staff members.
The most recent monthly facility-wide test took place about a week ago on Dec. 15, said Bridget Reeves, Chief Operating Officer at the Lighthouse Mission. All tests came back negative that day, she said.
“The team is working diligently with our community partners and the Whatcom County Health Department to make sure all of our guests and staff are safe,” Reeves said. “Any more guests that test positive will be transferred to the Isolation and Quarantine Facility for recovery, and we will continue following safety protocols and regular testing to bring this outbreak to a close.”
With frigid temperatures over Christmas weekend and into next week, it is crucial that any unsheltered people continue to find shelter, Reeves said.
“We are still welcoming people in pending negative COVID tests, and we strongly urge all people on the streets to take shelter inside this weekend,” Reeves said. “We do not want folks to spend the night outside in zero-degree weather.”
Christmas is still on for people at Base Camp. Staff will serve guests the special Christmas meal and distribute gift bags to everyone as planned.
“There’s no way we can shut down, because there’s nowhere else for these people to go – especially in light of this upcoming cold snap,” Reeves said. “With careful monitoring of the situation, and thanks to our generous community, Lighthouse Mission guests can still enjoy a safe and warm Christmas.”
Lighthouse Mission Ministries has been helping people who are homeless since 1923. It cares for up to 310 people each day and provides a continuum of services aimed at ending homelessness through street outreach, enhanced shelters, addiction recovery, Christian programs, and aftercare. To make a donation or learn more about its services, call (360) 733-5120, or visit www.thelighthousemission.org.