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Union Rescue Mission Employee Tests Positive For Coronavirus, First Reported Case On Skid Row

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An employee at Union Rescue Mission has become the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus on Skid Row.

"Up to today we really had a miracle going, no confirmed cases at Union Rescue Mission," Chief Executive Officer Andy Bales said in a video posted Monday to YouTube.

Bales said the employee was in the intensive care unit at County USC Medical Center.

He also said that 95 residents and several employees have been isolated on the building's third floor, which houses a live-in recovery program and is where the unnamed employee worked.

"It's not a lockdown, it's not yet quarantine, but we put some in isolation and we also sent a few of our teammates to Dockweiler Beach for triage at the beach," Bales said. "I encouraged them as they left that they were going to their own private motorhome by the beach, and that they'd be home in a few days, but only God can make that happen."

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According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department was setting up tents in the courtyard and was working to track down the employee's recent contacts.

"We're in this for the long run," Bales said. "It really hits home when a teammate gets sick, when you hear from loved ones that they've lost their brother in another city."

Union Rescue Mission is a privately-funded, religious homeless services provider that occupies a five-story building in the 500 block of South San Pedro Street.

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The mission operates individual and family shelters, and a transitional program. The employee who contracted the illness, was previously homeless, the Times reported, and had graduated from the mission's recovery program. He was then hired by the mission and still lived there.

Bales told the Times that the employee who tested positive had not had much contact with the part of the building frequented by homeless people who come and go from the streets during the day.

"Keep us in your prayers," Bales said. "I just want to share my love with you and encourage you to stay home if you can and survive this deal and we'll be celebrating together someday soon."

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