March 23, 2020 9:09 p.m.
So far the virus has not been detected in vulnerable populations in Santa Barbara
On any given night, the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission has about 200 people under its roof.
The organization helps rebuild people’s lives. So when the governor of California orders a “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” of six feet apart, the order has a huge impact on some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
“We had to cut our chapel service,” Rescue Mission President Rolf Geyling said. “We are serving our homeless guests in the chapel.”
The Rescue Mission, PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) and Showers of Blessing, are just some of the groups that serve the homeless who are working hard to prevent a spread within that community. Showers of Blessing plans to hold warm shower services from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Tuesday.
So far, the 18 confirmed cases in Santa Barbara County have not involved anyone within the homeless community.
Organizations such as the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and PATH have dramatically altered their systems to allow six feet of distance among people.
“There is always a risk that comes from extending compassion to people,” Geyling said. “We are trying to maintain compassion while being wise and protecting both of our clients and staff. The concern is if we had to go to any strictly adhered policy of shelter-in-place we would have to reduce the number of people we serve.”
For now they have separated people in the dining room, allow people to eat in the chapel and are requiring people to sleep as far apart as possible.