News Flash


Posted on: August 19, 2021

COVID Cases at City’s Homeless Shelter

Samuel L. Jones Hall exterior

The Samuel L. Jones Hall Homeless Shelter (SJH) will reopen to new shelter intakes on Friday, August 27, 2021, providing emergency temporary sheltering to those experiencing homelessness within Santa Rosa. The facility was closed to intakes on July 2 after an outbreak of COVID-19. It is reopening following more than two consecutive weeks of all negative COVID-19 test results among current shelter occupants and staff. The shelter will reopen with updated plans and new mitigation measures in place to protect residents and staff from future potential COVID transmission:  


(Original Message - Updated August 24, 2021) 

The County of Sonoma, City of Santa Rosa, and Catholic Charities are responding to positive cases of COVID-19 at the City's Samuel L. Jones Hall Homeless Shelter (SJH)

Following is the latest information available on current COVID-19 cases associated with the shelter: 

  • # of total potential shelter resident exposures: 153 
    • 83 were fully vaccinated prior to outbreak
  • # of confirmed positive cases: 116
    •  66 were fully vaccinated
  • # of positive cases confirmed to be the Delta variant strain: 52*
    * Sequencing to confirm the Delta variant strain within cases at SJH is ongoing. The Delta variant is currently the dominant strain spreading within our communities and it is suspected that most of the SJH cases will be confirmed to be the Delta variant, per the Sonoma County Dept. of Health Services.

  • # pending test results:  0

  • Date of most recent confirmed positive test result:  Mon., August 2 

  • # of hospitalizations: 15 
    • 2 hospitalized individuals have died 
    • At least 12 are no longer hospitalized
    • 5 were admitted for reasons other than COVID (hospitalized "with" COVID rather than "for" COVID)
    •  9 of 10 individuals hospitalized "for" COVID were fully vaccinated
  • # of deaths: 2
    •  1 not vaccinated, 1 vaccinated and impacted by underlying conditions

Background Information

Catholic Charities, which operates the City-owned SJH, first became aware of a potential COVID-19 exposure on Friday, July 2, 2021 when two individuals who had been staying at the shelter tested positive. Following protocols that are in place for COVID-19 shelter exposures, SJH was closed to new shelter intakes on July 2, and Catholic Charities immediately reached out to the Sonoma County Department of Health Services to quickly implement testing of all shelter residents and staff members.

The SJH Shelter Annex, which is adjacent to the main shelter building, was initially established as an isolation area for shelter residents who tested positive. On July 14, 2021, the County of Sonoma opened an Alternate Care Site (ACS) to provide additional space to isolate COVID-positive individuals. The County took this action in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly within the homeless community, including the cases at SJH. Transfer of COVID-positive individuals from the initial isolation site at the SJH Annex to the ACS, which has capacity for up to 60 residents, began on July 14, 2021. A joint news release issued by the County and City on July 14 provides more information about the ACS and the broader issue of increased COVID-19 transmission in Sonoma County. 

Twice-a-week testing has been implemented to monitor and manage potential spread. SJH Shelter will remain closed to new intakes until at least two weeks after the last COVID-positive test result. Any residents who test positive for COVID-19 are transported to the County's ACS for isolation.

On-going COVID-19 Safety Protocols at SJH

COVID-19 safety protocols have been in place at SJH since March 2020, including screening of residents, conducting temperature checks, required masking, and asking residents about whether they are vaccinated and recommending vaccination. Additionally, many vaccine clinics have been conducted at the shelter in recent months. SJH does not turn away any community member who is experiencing homelessness if they are not vaccinated, and provides education and vaccination services. SJH has continued to operate throughout the pandemic and has experienced only one prior occurrence of COVID-19 cases at the shelter, which resulted in 14 COVID cases in December 2020 - January 2021. 

Encampment Efforts Paused

The City's Homeless Encampment Assistance Program (HEAP) has paused efforts to resolve encampments at all locations within the City, unless there is an immediate health and safety hazard associated with the encampment. HEAP efforts will remain paused at least until intakes can resume at SJH. The Sonoma County Department of Health Services has reported an increase in COVID cases within encampments.

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