As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic continues to escalate, we have some important updates.

Last Updated 4/12/2020

 

Service Updates

During something as unprecedented and catastrophic as a COVID-19, it’s critical that all individuals and organizations act with the utmost care to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

CareBag Inc. is not equipped or trained to handle a pandemic. Continuing to run our programs could create a dangerous space for COVID-19 transmission among our guests, staff and volunteers. We’re particularly concerned about the potential for asymptomatic members of our team to pass the virus to our guests—many of whom have underlying health issues and face multiple exposure risks.

For this reason, we’ve suspended our mobile shower programs in the Treasure Coast and West Palm Beach Florida.

We plan to relaunch these programs as soon as possible. To do that, we’re actively monitoring the situation and working diligently to acquire the training and resources needed to safely and effectively meet the needs of our guests without risking their health by unwittingly spreading the virus.

In the meantime, we’re distributing hygiene kits and other essential supplies to our unhoused neighbors and service partners; we’re consulting with public health experts and resources to create service protocols; and we’ll work to acquire protective gear for our team as soon as our front liners in the hospitals have the supplies they need.

As we’re forced to adapt to this unprecedented and rapidly changing situation, our mission remains unchanged. We’ll continue do everything we can to meet the needs of our guests with proper hygiene, without compromising anyone’s health or safety.

What CareBag Inc. is doing now:

Creating hygiene kits and distributing them to our unsheltered guests in all locations and to our service partners. The kits contain sanitizer, wipes, and other essential hygiene items along with health information about the COVID-19 virus.

  • We have acquired a handwashing station to have at our shower sites.
  • We’re tracking the latest information and protocols from local and national health agencies and reviewing infectious disease protocols and guidelines that will help us craft our own.
  • We’re monitoring the availability of protective gear and will work to acquire some as soon as hospitals have what they need.
  • We’re preparing to be back on the streets delivering proper hygiene as soon as safely possible.

General Housekeeping

CareBag Inc. offices and warehouses are closed until further notice as our staff works remotely to follow current social distancing regulations and for the safety of our team and community members.

As a result, we are not accepting in-kind donations or participating in any special events or speaking engagements.

Our replication support team is still available for any inquiries but will not be participating in on-site visits.

What Can I Do?

  • Write a letter to Congress to include emergency funds for our unhoused neighbors in COVID-19 response.
  • Contact your local leaders and ask them to push for public handwashing stations and mobile showers, and increase the amount of shelters that meet social distancing requirements.
  • Donate COVID-19 prevention kits to CareBag Inc., we’re accepting them on a case-by-case basis. Or donate to us directly and we’ll purchase supplies and keep distributing. Also please consider donating supplies to your local shelters who accept donations.
  • Practice strict physical distancing and shelter in place ordinances, preventing the spread to our unhoused neighbors can help with you staying indoors.

Here are some tips and resources that we are using with our staff that will be helpful for you to look over, and spread the word!

FAQ: CareBag Inc.  response to COVID-19

If you have any questions, please read our FAQ below. If you still have questions, please e-mail us at info@carebagfl.org.

Why aren’t you offering service?

Given the unprecedented and catastrophic nature of COVID-19, it’s critical that all individuals and organizations act with the utmost care to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

CareBag Inc.  is not equipped or trained to handle a pandemic. We don’t have personal protective equipment (PPE), and we shouldn’t try to acquire it ahead of healthcare providers, who face a critical shortage. We have not received any guidance from the cities we serve on protocols for delivering services like ours, and major public health agency protocols vary.

Continuing to run our programs could create a dangerous space for COVID-19 transmission among our guests, staff and volunteers. We are particularly concerned about the potential for asymptomatic members of our team to pass the virus to our guests—many of whom have underlying health issues and face multiple exposure risks.

For these reasons, we’ve suspended our mobile shower programs in Treasure Coast and West Palm Beach and cancelled any public engagements.

How could your shower service be unsafe?

Research on how COVID-19 spreads is ongoing, and new findings regularly produce updated guidance. What we know now convinces us that it would be irresponsible to be offering hygiene service on the streets while unequipped and untrained. Key factors we are taking into account include:

  • Transmission of the COVID-19 virus can occur by direct contact with infected people and indirect contact with surfaces in the immediate environment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • New research indicates that the virus may spread via fecal matter, in addition to the well-known spread via respiratory droplets (produced by coughs, sneezes and even exhaled air).
  • Toilet plumes (clouds of microscopic droplets produced when a toilet is flushed) can spread several feet and remain in a bathroom for several hours.
  • Public health officials recommend maintaining at least six feet of space between people who don’t live together.

In most of our locations it is impossible to maintain six feet of space between guests who line up for our shower service. It is difficult to impossible for our staff and volunteers to provide the service while remaining six feet away from guests and each other at all time. We do not have access to the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) for close contact.

In addition, we would need to disinfect absolutely every part of every shower and toilet unit after every use. (The stalls are not self-cleaning; a person has to clean them.) We clean each stall after every use, but our staff and volunteers are not trained or equipped to clean at the level recommend by the CDC at this time. 

Even if we could follow protocols, public agencies around the world differ in their guidance—even the Centers for Disease Control and the WHO do not agree on safety protocols.

Without the appropriate PPE or truly informed protocols for delivering service, we feel that it is necessary to suspend service in order to reduce the risk to our guests, staff, volunteers and the general public.

What is CareBag Inc. doing during this service suspension?

We’re actively monitoring the situation and working diligently to acquire the training and resources needed to safely meet the needs of our guests without risking their health by unwittingly spreading the virus.

In the meantime, we’re taking these actions:

  • Creating hygiene kits and distributing them to our unsheltered guests in all locations and to our service partners. The kits contain sanitizer, wipes, and health information about the COVID-19 virus.
  • Continuing to work on tools to help them succeed when they are able to provide service, such as inventory supply lists, trailer specs and an operation manual.
  • Consulting with public health experts to create service protocols and identifying sources of protective gear for our team as soon as hospitals have the supplies they need.

As we are forced to adapt to this unprecedented and rapidly changing situation, our mission remains unchanged. We’ll continue to do everything we can to meet the needs of our guests with Radical Hospitality, without compromising anyone’s health or safety.

When will you be back?

As soon as possible. We are doing everything we can to prepare, so we can be back out on the streets delivering Radical Hospitality the minute we can safely do so.

2-1-1 is also updating available resources during COVID-19, call them or visit your local 2-1-1 website and search keyword “showers” in your area.

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