The Snohomish County Carnegie Resource Center, seen here Dec. 20, 2018, is closed temporarily for cleaning. It’s a hub where people who are homeless, addicted to drugs or mentally ill can typically get help for everything from health benefits to housing assistance. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

The Snohomish County Carnegie Resource Center, seen here Dec. 20, 2018, is closed temporarily for cleaning. It’s a hub where people who are homeless, addicted to drugs or mentally ill can typically get help for everything from health benefits to housing assistance. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

County social services hub closes amid virus exposure concern

It’s not clear when Snohomish County’s Carnegie Resource Center in Everett will reopen.

EVERETT — Coronavirus concerns have temporarily shuttered a downtown Everett hub where people who are homeless, addicted to drugs or mentally ill can typically go for help.

On Wednesday, the Carnegie Resource Center was closed until further notice for cleaning because a person who was recently there came into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

The person connected with the infected individual works for Workforce Snohomish, which has also closed its offices on 134th Street SW and the job training and employment services center at Everett Station for cleaning “out of an abundance of caution,” said Joy Emory, interim CEO of Workforce Snohomish.

As of Thursday afternoon, it was unclear when all three facilities would reopen.

County spokesman Kent Patton didn’t know when a contractor would be available to clean the Carnegie Resource Center.

The center, which opened in December 2018 in the historic Carnegie Building next to the county jail, houses a suite of service providers that help clients get everything from health benefits to housing assistance.

People can still access those providers by visiting their respective locations, Patton said.

“The reason we established (the center) was to make it easier for people to transition from homelessness to a stable, secure life. Of course it’s a concern if we lose this tool, but we expect it to be back up and operating as soon as possible,” he said.

The sudden closure comes amid repeated warnings from public health officials that those with underlying health issues are at a higher risk of severe illness or death if they contract the virus.

“There are vulnerable individuals that go in there, which is why we wanted to close it,” said Patton, adding that the center’s clients include people with physical and behavioral health issues.

The county contracts with Seattle-based Pioneer Human Services to run the center, he said.

During the first two months of this year, the center saw 460 clients during more than 700 visits, said Calei Vaughn, the Carnegie’s director.

“We are very concerned about being unable to serve the most vulnerable. However, we are also concerned about the health of our clients, partners and staff and want to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus,” she said in an email. “We will re-open as soon as all precautionary measures have been achieved.”

Vaughn said anyone with questions about the services offered at the center can call her at 425-420-3802.

A temporary shutdown of Carnegie is “a loss for the community,” said Sarah Jayne Barrett, director of housing services for the northwest region at Catholic Community Services, one of the organizations that has a presence at the center.

“The Carnegie is a great resource,” Barrett said. “Even if it’s just for a day, it’s a loss of services for the vulnerable who go there.”

Many of the homeless people that Catholic Community Services caters to have underlying health conditions or are uninsured. Plus, if they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, they have nowhere to self-quarantine, Barrett said.

“The vulnerable in the community — when things like this happen — they become more vulnerable,” Barrett said of the coronavirus outbreak.

Workforce Snohomish and Everett Station’s WorkSource will likely be closed through the end of the week, Emory said.

“We’re still awaiting a timeline for cleaning,” she said. “The closure really was in an abundance of caution and being respectful of our customers and staff and making sure that we have their well being in mind. The cleaning will be done as quickly as possible.”

Job seekers and employers can still access the range of employment and training services offered at WorkSource Everett online at WorkSourceWA.com or by visiting the Lynnwood WorkSource site at 18009 Highway 99. Those seeking assistance with unemployment benefits or paid family and medical leave can visit esd.wa.gov.

“We’ve been working on customer notification,” Emory said. “Services are still being delivered.”

The Workforce Snohomish employee who had contact with the infected person isn’t showing symptoms, she said, adding that the sick individual is now in self-quarantine.

Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; rriley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.

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