MASON CITY, Iowa - Back on July 24th, the Northern Lights Alliance for the Homeless' men's and women's shelters were placed on quarantine due to a rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Cerro Gordo County.
Now that case numbers are declining, Executive Director Jeannie Kingery lifted the quarantine order this week.
"It was a sigh of relief, especially for the women who have children and had to keep them in their room all the time, it was difficult. But they held tight with us."
During the quarantine period, those who were staying at the shelter were allowed to go out, but were limited to getting necessary things like groceries. In addition, usage of the kitchen and communal areas were limited to one family at a time. For women who have children with them, West Fork Schools donated iPads to keep them entertained and relieve some stress.
"They were hardly out of the building for two weeks."
Kingery has been with the shelter for about 7 years, and this was the first time that the shelters had ever been placed under a quarantine. She says the quarantine period serves as a learning lesson.
"I had to learn it very quickly. None of our decisions are perfect, and it's not black and white, there's a lot of gray areas. There's a lot to figure out and consider especially dealing with such close quarters."
Now at the shelters, communal areas can be shared with others, though masks are required to be worn. While the order is off now, those staying at the shelters are advised to limit where they go in order to avoid unnecessary spread of the virus.
"We still ask them to limit where they're going. Go where you absolutely have to go, apply for those jobs, apply for that housing, get your groceries, things like that."
If cases in the county go back up, Kingery says reactivating the quarantine would be an option.