West Side Albuquerque shelter sees rise in COVID-19 cases

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As the weather gets colder, people are moving indoors, including those who are homeless. It also means a small wave of COVID-19 cases at the West Side Emergency Housing Center in Albuquerque.

“We did see a few cases ramp up over the weekend. Over at the west side of Mercy Housing Center last week, as of Friday, we had zero cases of COVID. And as of Monday, we have had a few. We have not had any more cases come up, thankfully,” said David Sisneros.

David Sisneros is the chief operating officer of “Heading Home,” which partners with the City of Albuquerque at the shelter, said dealing with COVID has been a learning curve.

“The lessons that I think that we’ve learned over the course of time dealing with COVID is that testing is key. We must test anybody that is reporting symptoms, or is reporting exposure, or is screening positive for symptoms,” he said.

Now they require anyone staying in the shelter with COVID symptoms to be tested and offer isolation dorms for those with COVID to recover.

While they navigate a virus, they also must navigate another issue: bed bugs.

Earlier this month, we showed you video captured at the West Side Shelter of the pest.

David said they do try to actively mitigate the spread, but he says something more permanent is needed.

“We also require all of our new guests that come into the shelter to put their clothing into an extremely hot dryer for a minimum of 60 minutes which we hope is going to kill those bedbugs and eggs as well, if they have any with them. We’re actually right now thinking about the best way to address the bedbug issue, there are a lot of, you know, different set of opinions and how that can be dealt with,” he said.