BRATTLEBORO — An inn on Putney Road being used to house those without shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic was closed so residents could quarantine after two tested positive for the virus.
A quarantine at the Quality Inn & Conference Center was scheduled from Friday through around April 30. Josh Davis, executive director of Groundworks Collaborative, said the state urged the action out of an abundance of caution.
On April 7, a client of Groundworks tested positive for COVID-19 and was sent with their family to the Ho-Hum Motel in Burlington, which is being used by the state as an isolation shelter as part of the emergency housing program in the pandemic. On April 15, a second client tested positive for the virus.
Eight people were identified as “close contacts” and nine were sent to the Ho-Hum Motel on April 15. Testing is being arranged with the Vermont Department of Health for Thursday and April 29.
“Based on the results of that, we’ll determine the extent of the quarantine,” Davis said. “Right now, the expectation is that it will be for two weeks.”
On Sunday, cones were placed at the entrance of the building to keep people away and a Windham County Sheriff’s Office cruiser was parked outside. Sheriff Mark Anderson confirmed WCSO is patrolling the property and ensuring people with official business can enter.
Clients are discouraged from leaving, Davis said. During the interview, he arrived at the property and helped other staff support those under quarantine.
“If they do leave, we really can’t have them come back,” he said, describing the quarantine as a way to protect the clients at the inn and other community members. “We have our staff who are doing an amazing job supporting people and by and large, clients are doing an incredible job being open and flexible.”
Staff are finding “creative ways” to serve the approximately 89 clients on site, Davis said. He noted food is being delivered to rooms multiple times a day.
No staff members have been identified as close contacts of those who tested positive. They can come in and out of the inn, working in shifts to support the clients.
Davis said it’s unusual to have the sheriff’s office at the inn but the state wanted to secure the property. The quarantine is the first for his organization since the program to house individuals without shelter in hotels began at the start of the pandemic last year.
“Ironically, we had a vaccine clinic scheduled for this coming Wednesday,” Davis said. “It had to be rescheduled because we were going to utilize the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.”
Following federal guidance, Vermont paused the use of J&J vaccines after six women who received doses from the company experienced blood clots.
“In some ways, I feel we’re right at the end,” Davis said. “It’s unfortunate we have to close the QI.”