COVID-19 shuts down Pensacola Waterfront Rescue Mission for 10 days

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) – The Waterfront Rescue Mission is closed until August 16th after 19 men tested positive for COVID-19.

“This place is actually a safe haven for me,” Timothy Johnson said.

Johnson, 28, said he’s been staying at Waterfront Rescue Mission on West Herman Avenue every night for the past few months. He and dozens of other men had to move out to the streets Friday.

“It’s dangerous,” he said.

Waterfront says right now it could be more dangerous inside after the men tested positive leading them to shut down part of the building.

“Those who stay with us overnight who might come and go, they might stay one night, they might stay multiple nights…that portion of the building will be closed in an abundance of caution,” Executive Vice President Angie Ishee said.

Ten of the positive cases were with overnight guests. The city worked with organizations to find a safe place for them to quarantine Friday. The remaining nine men are there more long-term as part of their homeless rescue programs so they are in quarantine on campus.

“The purpose of this Mission is actually…it’s a rescue,” Johnson said. “For us to come to it as far as rescue, they really actually kicked us out…kicked the ones who really need the rescue out.”

Ishee said it’s really tough to have to turn people like Timothy away.  

“We show up every day to serve and to serve the underserved and the most vulnerable in our community so it’s very difficult to know we have to limit those services,” Ishee said.

Johnson found out Friday afternoon that he and a few others could get a hotel room for the night thanks to help from someone. They aren’t sure yet what they’ll do for the next nine days.

The overnight shelter at the Mobile campus is still operational but not accepting new guests until further notice.

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