More than a dozen sickened by norovirus outbreak at local homele - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

More than a dozen sickened by norovirus outbreak at local homeless shelter

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Another round of the nasty, vomit-inducing illness known as norovirus is affecting more than a dozen people at the House of Charity (HOC).

Two months ago, the virus sickened more than 80 people at the Spokane homeless shelter, including 12 staff members. As of Tuesday, HOC staff say more than 12 people now have the illness.

“The bad news is when you sleep an extra 170 people next to each other on mats on the floor you have very close sleeping quarters,” said HOC CEO, Rob McCann. “And that’s what accelerates any contagious virus.”

McCann says staff at HOC deep-cleaned the entire facility to help stop the spread of the norovirus. He also says the facility has been closed during the day since Monday. In addition, McCann says the kitchen is currently closed.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the population when they get sick,” said McCann. “But it’s a reality of our population when you’re in close quarters like this.”

Not helping the situation is the shelter’s bathroom renovation. Currently, the facility has portable bathrooms outside, and a hand washing station inside.

“Normally the protocol with this crisis would be to take the sick people inside and have the well people quarantined in a different part of the building,” said McCann. “But we couldn’t to it this time.”

Health experts say the best defense against the virus is washing your hands with hot water and soap. They say hand sanitizer does not work against norovirus.

They also say to avoid contact with those who are ill, and use two tablespoons of bleach to each quart of water when cleaning your home.

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