PITTSFIELD — Twelve people living in ServiceNet’s homeless shelter at the former St. Joseph’s High School have tested positive for COVID-19, with residents spending their isolation periods at a state-run site.
The Pittsfield shelter tested residents and staff on Monday after learning that one resident — who had since left the shelter — had COVID-19, according to Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet vice president of shelters and housing. He said the positive results came back on Wednesday.
“The transportation comes from the agency that runs the isolation hotel, so they’ll be transporting those people,” Sacchetti told The Eagle Wednesday afternoon. He said the isolation site was in eastern Massachusetts.
Nearly all residents who tested positive are asympomatic, he said.
He said nearly all of the people currently living at the shelter have been vaccinated, “maybe one or two who weren’t”. He did not give a breakdown of the vaccination for the 12 guys who tested positive.
The majority of residents received mRNA vaccines through the Community Health Programs vaccine bus, he added, and the bus has also given booster shots.
Prior to transport to the isolation site, positive residents were kept in a different location than those who tested negative, Sacchetti said. The shelter plans to retest everyone who has received a negative result, including staff and residents, on Friday.
Sacchetti said ServiceNet also has quick tests on hand for anyone who becomes symptomatic.
The positive tests come as cases continue to rise sharply across the Berkshires and the Commonwealth.
“I’m not surprised by this outbreak,” Sacchetti said. “There are other shelters where 15 to 20 people are all positive at the same time. It kind of reflects what’s going on in the state right now. Wherever people gather, they’re at risk.”
Sacchetti said the residents did not have to stay at the shelter while they waited for the test results to come back.
“It’s impossible to tell people to stay there,” he said. “We’re working with people about how to protect themselves, how to protect others. There’s an expectation that we can just lock people up in the shelter, and we can’t do that.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most fully vaccinated people without symptoms do not need to go into quarantine.