No COVID-19 found in Samaritan Inn death


WESTFIELD – On March 23, city police were notified at 9:02 p.m. by a staffer at the Samaritan Inn, the city’s homeless shelter on Free Street, of a death at the shelter.
Staff reported to police that an odor had first been noticed about two days earlier near one of the individual bedrooms occupied by residents transitioning to independent living and they investigated to find the occupant deceased.
Initial reports to police indicated that the man had a history of respiratory issues and had recently developed a cough.
The Medical Examiner’s office was notified as was the city’s Health Department.
Police Capt. Michael McCabe said on Wednesday – speaking carefully to avoid divulging protected information – said that the the man’s cough was not new and he had been treated for it by a physician. He said that the cause of death appeared to be something unrelated to the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Joe Rouse, director of the city’s Health Department, subsequently said there was “no obvious reason to believe that it was a COVID case, I think that was just a rumor going around.
“Nonetheless,” he said, “because of all the people in close proximity it was a concern as far as whether there was anybody in there that was symptomatic or possibly contagious” so he contacted the Healthcare for the Homeless organization.
“They went in there the next day, they screened 20 people” he said and “they found no confirmation of COVID-19.”
Since then, Rouse said, “The staff has gone and taken extra precautionary measures for sanitizing and disinfecting and also they’re going to do some more separating in the common areas.”

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