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Clara White Mission shut down after employee COVID-19 death

Clara White Mission reopens
Clara White Mission reopens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Clara White Mission, which offers meals for the hungry and transitional housing for the homeless, has shut down after an employee died due to complications from COVID-19.

“The staff of the Clara White Mission is a close family and we grieve the loss of one of our own,” said Clara White Mission Board President Michelle Paul in a statement to News4Jax.

Paul said after “some employees, as well as a few residents,” tested positive for the coronavirus, all of whom were asymptomatic, the organization shut down and stopped its feeding program. CDC guidelines were followed for cleaning and quarantining affected individuals, Paul said.

All residents and employees were retested and all employees must show negative test results prior to their return.

Clara White Mission CEO Ju’Coby Pittman was hospitalized two weeks ago after contracting the virus and is still recovering. It’s unclear if the outbreak at the mission is what put Pittman in the hospital.

City Councilwoman Ju'Coby Pittman

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Councilwoman Pittman,” City Council president Sam Newby said Tuesday morning during a meeting. “I talked to her family members today and she’s doing much better.”

The mission’s drop-in day center reopened Tuesday and Paul said it is targeting a full reopen date of July 26.

Zachary Ellis was relieved Tuesday to return to Clara White’s day shelter which has been closed. He’s one of a number of homeless residents who had to be turned away because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the facility.

“Out here in the streets, if you’re hungry, you don’t really get what you want, need to eat,” he said. “So that puts everybody in prey-predator mentality.”

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