Now that the CDC has eased mask-wearing guidance and other COVID-19 precautions for fully vaccinated people, homeless shelters are able to help more people daily.
John 3:16 Mission said before the announcement, they were doing temperature checks and required a COVID-19 test from people with symptoms.
“This has been one of the most challenging times ever in working with the homeless,” Reverend Steve Whitaker said.
However, the CDC’s new looser mask guidance for fully vaccinated people has made out outreach at John 3:16 Mission more personal rather than distant, according to Reverend Steve Whitaker.
They’ve eased up on screenings for people who stay there but staff still need to wear masks.
“A good part of the year, we have had to limit the number of people coming into the building and we are not wide open, but we are more open than what we were,” Whitaker said.
Executive Director at the Tulsa Day Center Mack Haltom said because of the announcement, they are now allowing more people in, extending their hours, and don’t have to screen everyone as rigorously.
Whitaker believes COVID-19 has made it harder for Tulsa’s homeless population to get help.
“We are not able to get everyone in that we want to get in, there is a lot of unsheltered people in the city of Tulsa,” Reverend Whitaker said.
Even with the recent announcement, the Tulsa Salvation Army is still requiring all clients and staff to wear PPE and maintain social distancing. They do expect to resume full capacity sheltering and dine-in meals on July 1.
Both John 3:16 Mission and the Tulsa Day Center are encouraging everyone who comes into their shelter to get vaccinated.