On Tuesday, DFW broke an 84-year-old record when it recorded an average temperature of 40 degrees and a high of 41 degrees. The lowest temperature the area had previously experienced on Oct. 27 had been a chilly 46 degrees in 1936.
With cold weather creeping in on the Metroplex, warming stations for the homeless population are looking to open their doors. However, with the persistence of COVID-19, preparations for warming station protocols could include extra steps this year.
Michael Cain, lieutenant with the Salvation Army of Collin County, said the overnight warming station located at the Salvation Army in Plano was not able to open during the most recent cold snap. The facility is the only warming station in Plano for single homeless individuals, Cain said.
“There's so many moving parts to COVID, and it changes weekly,” he said. “With this cold spell, we didn't feel like we could be 100% safe.”
The overnight warming station’s leadership team has been working since April to prepare for providing shelter on a cold night with COVID-19 safety precautions in place. Preparations include getting personal protective equipment, setting up a screening process for symptoms and establishing social distancing protocols.
While the warming station can usually hold a maximum of 150 visitors, Cain said it can fit in a maximum of 100 this year in order to properly socially distance. Cain said the lower number shouldn’t be a problem if they see the same amount of guests as they saw last year. The most they had in the previous year was 85 guests in one night.
However, Cain noted, that’s not accounting for the potential impact of COVID-19.
“We don't know the effect of COVID yet on the community, so if it comes down to where there's an uptick in the homeless, then, yeah, we will have to find another place,” he said. “But as of now, if we continue with the numbers from last year, I think we'll be alright.”
Cain said plans have included having nurses come in to help develop a screening process for visitors. In the event that a visitor does have symptoms such as a cough or fever, the team has worked with the city of Plano to devise a backup plan for those individuals.
“We will be transporting them to a hotel for isolation and then providing resources for them to have testing,” Cain said.
With safety preparations in place, Cain said he feels comfortable that the location will be able to open its doors by Sunday.