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Code Purple shelters open Tuesday in Sussex & Kent Counties

The coronavirus pandemic is putting an additional strain on people coping with homelessness this winter.

The weather may be mild now, but colder temps are on the way. And Code Purple shelters in Sussex and Kent Counties are set to open shelter/sanctuaries on Tuesday:

Code Purple Sussex County recently received approval from the state’s Budget Surplus Committee to use the former Delaware State Police Troop 7 barracks on Route 1 in Lewes as a Code Purple shelter - for the second year.

Code Purple Sussex County executive director Nikki Gonzalez says the barracks join its other shelters in Georgetown, Milford, Seaford, and Laurel that will be available every night from December 1, 2020 through March 15, 2021. There are two shelters in Milford and Seaford, and one each in Georgetown and Laurel.

She notes the shelters will operate differently this year because of COVID.

“Everyone has to call in and reserve their spot because spots are limited. And so we will already know who’s coming, said Gonzalez. "We’ll obviously have to place their beds six feet apart. We'll also do kind of a more rigorous cleaning, using CDC guidelines.”

Gonzalez adds that they will also do temperature checks and ask pre-screening questions before allowing anyone inside.

Code Purple Kent County will also do COVID screening, but is not requiring reservations, according to its President Ennio Emmanuel.

“We’re going to have a more intense check-in process of taking temperatures, do the CDC questionnaire and look at you to make sure you don’t have any (COVID) symptoms," said Emmanuel. "We’re just going to do walk-ins; it’s just going to be a bit more of a strenuous check-in process.” 

The Kent County Code Purple shelters will operate through March 31.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.