Weber County homelessness and the housing crisis 03

The soup kitchen entrance at the Lantern House shelter on 33rd Street in Ogden is pictured Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. 

OGDEN — The Lantern House homeless shelter announced Friday night that 48 people staying at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. Two of those who tested positive died, though their cause of death has not been confirmed.

According to a press release from the shelter, the two people who died were identified as a senior male resident and a single mother who was staying at the facility with her child. The statement said the child has been placed with next of kin.

The Midtown Community Health Center and the Utah Department of Health, as of Friday, performed 220 coronavirus tests at the Lantern House. Among those who tested positive were 37 men, 10 women and one child.

The men and women will be quarantined at two separate wings in the facility, confirmed Sasha Clark, a spokesperson for the Dicio Group, a public relations firm contracted by Weber County.

“Lantern House has had strict cleaning and sanitizing protocols during the pandemic,” Clark said in an email. “The last few days those protocols have been adjusted and increased to meet the needs of the outbreak.”

She added that Lantern House has been following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for sanitizing congregate living facilities.

Prior to the outbreak, the Weber-Morgan Health Department provided Lantern House with personal protective equipment and assisted Lantern House in bed mapping and developing methods to physically distance people staying there, according to health department spokesperson Lori Buttars. It also aided in setting up and sanitizing isolation units when necessary.

The Weber-Morgan Health Department helped Lantern House hire additional staff to help care for the individuals who have tested positive for the virus. Volunteers from the health departments’ Medical Reserve Corps have also signed up to help out, Buttars said.

According to Buttars, all of this assistance is paid for by CARES Act funding.

If the health of any of those residents deteriorates, the press release said, the facility has been instructed to seek emergency medical treatment.

The shelter will continue to serve homeless individuals, Clark said. However, according to the press release, Lantern House is looking for “appropriate lodging” for individuals at the facility who tested negative.

The health department is involved in an ongoing effort to inform residents on COVID-19 and its spread.

Lantern House is asking for donations to help provide care for those who have COVID-19 and other people experiencing homelessness at the facility through stannescenter.org.

“We sincerely appreciate our dedicated staff and volunteers who have been tireless in their efforts to keep everyone at the Lantern House safe and adapt quickly, hour by hour to the situation,” the press release said. “Their preparedness has been instrumental in keeping COVID-19 at bay during these past few months.”

Tim Vandenack contributed to this article.

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