Frail and elderly veterans living at the Arion Court affordable housing facility in Seattle are at risk of exposure to the coronavirus after at least three residents contracted the virus.
The building is home to 38 single-occupancy units, and residents share bathrooms and kitchen facilities, said Sharon Lee, executive director for Low Income Housing Institute, a nonprofit that owns and operates the building at 1814 Minor Ave.
Staff from Public Health — Seattle and King County were at the property testing residents Sunday morning, Lee said, and she wants any resident who tests positive to be relocated to a quarantine facility.
“We are pushing public health to offer isolation and quarantine,” Lee said. “We don’t think it is a good idea for people who are diagnosed, even if they are asymptomatic, to just stay where they are. It is the responsibility of public health to take action.”
The residents are formerly homeless, now in permanent housing at the facility, and many are military veterans, Lee said. Some have physical or mental disabilities from their military service.
She knew some would be reluctant to leave their home. “It is challenging.”
One resident was hospitalized Friday, and another self-quarantined at the building, and a third person tested positive at a VA facility, but the building staff were not informed, said a manager on site at the building. Lee declined to discuss details, saying she had to protect residents’ privacy.
“We have operated the building for so many years, since 1994, maybe earlier, and nothing like this has ever happened,” Lee said. The building is being deep cleaned and disinfected to combat the virus.
Arion Court, in addition to permanent shelter, provides on-site services for its residents. The building is a three-story walk-up with 38 units, each with 175 square feet of living space with its own stove top, fridge, sink, and closet. The building also has a large community room and kitchen area.
“At Arion Court, we serve a large population of veterans and many of them are disabled and frail,” Lee said. “It is very important for whoever tests positive to be moved to a place that is safe for them and the rest of our residents.”
Kate Cole, spokeswoman for Public Health-Seattle & King County confirmed the agency is testing all residents and staff at the facility. The agency also will work with the managers of the building to coordinate isolation and quarantine for any residents who test positive or have symptoms consisted with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Anyone who is symptom free but may have been exposed also can be considered for isolation and quarantine.
While three positive cases are confirmed at the facility as of Sunday afternoon results for the other tests were still pending.
The facility is just one of many homeless services or permanent supportive housing sites in King County with confirmed positive cases of the virus. The number of confirmed cases among residents and staff at 32 sites totaled 145 as of April 22.
The list released by Public Health-Seattle & King County shows a wide range of facilities with positive cases, some with more than two dozen.