By Meredith Barack

CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly 2,400 people test positive for COVID-19 in Chicago each day, but there’s a new option to help stop the spread.

A free place to stay for those infected.

CBS 2’s Meredith Barack reports from A Safe Haven, where the organization is encouraging anyone who tests positive to come stay. The medical respite unit was initially started in April for the homeless who were contracting COVID.

But the organization saw a greater need and now anyone who tests positive can come to stay for free.

“We all want to take care of our family members when they’re sick, but that’s the exact opposite of what you should do with COVID-19.”

Neli Vazquez-Rowland is with A Safe Haven. Her foundation provides a place for more than 1,400 Chicagoans who are transitioning from being homeless to living on their own and finding jobs.

But when the pandemic hit…

“We knew that not everybody needed to be in a hospital,” said Vazquez-Roland. “But yet they were going to potentially infect other people even if they were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.”

It opened its doors, and hearts, to COVID positive patients through a medical respite, or isolation units, here at its near westside facility.

“Isolate, get three healthy meals a day, get the medical attention they need,” she said and so far they’ve provided shelter and care for more than 300 people.

“We also have a 100% survival rate which is a remarkable number considering how many people are likely to suffer the worst consequences of this disease,” Vazquez-Rowland said.

The average length of stay: nine and a half days.

“It’s a very short price to pay in a pandemic,” Vazquez-Rowland said.  “In terms of time to be somewhere to make sure the rest of your family and the communities that you live in continue to be safe and healthy.”

Vazquez-Rowland hopes to see more people take advantage of the free family-friendly space being offered, especially those in the communities that have been impacted the most.

“The Latinx population and African American populations have been hit the hardest,” she said. “We live in dense situations and apartments with multi-generations living under the same household.”

Right now A Safe Haven is prepared to take care of 30 people, but it has the capacity for more if things take a turn for the worst.

“We’re here for the duration, for as long as it’s needed,” she said.

Funding from the city of Chicago allows A Safe Haven to provide its services. In order to stay at the medical respite, you must be a Chicago resident and test positive for COVID.

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