Salvation Army temporarily closes downtown Austin homeless shelter after 12 clients test positive for coronavirus in one day

This case is the second client in three weeks to test positive for the coronavirus. (DW labs Incorporated/Adobe Stock)
This case is the second client in three weeks to test positive for the coronavirus. (DW labs Incorporated/Adobe Stock)

This case is the second client in three weeks to test positive for the coronavirus. (DW labs Incorporated/Adobe Stock)

Austin’s downtown Salvation Army homeless shelter will temporarily close after 12 clients tested positive on April 10 for COVID-19, the upper-respiratory infection caused by the highly contagious coronavirus.

This week, the facility will undergo a deep cleaning, in accordance with standards laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a reorganization of the beds to further social distancing guidelines. The shelter is planning to reopen next week, according to spokesperson Corey Leith.

Leith said the shelter found out last week about the cluster of positive tests. The group of positive cases comes three weeks after a shelter client was diagnosed with the virus at the end of March. On April 12, the shelter transferred its 187 clients into the isolation hotels leased by the city, Leith said.

“Our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of our clients and staff members,” said Major Lewis Reckline, the organization’s Austin Area Commander. “Closing temporarily was not an easy decision, but it is a necessary decision to ensure the well-being of those who rely on us during their darkest hours. We are incredibly grateful for the city’s partnership to make sure our downtown shelter residents are receiving a temporary place to sleep during this time.”

Leith said the shelter often has had a difficult time tracking their clients, since they are allowed to leave during the day.


“It’s really hard to control social distancing when they are not in the building at all times,” Leith said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the number clients who tested positive for the virus.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Su


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