Coronavirus pandemic prevents cooling centers from opening as temperatures rise


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — At the New Community Shelter, the busiest time of year is beginning as

“Contrary to what people think, that winter, that numbers go up greatly, it’s more the summer,” Executive Director Terri Refsguard told Local 5 on Wednesday. “In the summer, there’s not much you can do about the heat, except get out of it.”

When Local 5 checked in Wednesday afternoon, there were still six beds open at the shelter.

“Those beds will be gone soon,” Refsguard said. “The heat definitely is driving people in.”

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the shelter to cut available beds from 98 to 48 to allow for social distancing.

That’s not the only change the pandemic has brought on.

“Typically we would open up our dining room to anyone in the neighborhood or the community, just to come in and cool off for the day,” Refsguard explained.

This year, she says that’s not an option.

“It’s a unique position to be in without being able to open up our dining room that is very frustrating,” she said.

The people who would usually come in to cool off weren’t residents of the shelter.

“The people that we’re talking about aren’t necessarily homeless, they’re elderly people in the neighborhood that don’t have air conditioning,” Refsguard said. “It would be nice to be able to provide them a place to go as we have in the past.”

It’s a frustrating situation, but the shelter has been able to stay coronavirus-free throughout the pandemic.

Even with restrictions in place, the new community shelter will help anyone who needs a bed.

“If they are looking for a place to stay, to live, come to the shelter first and if this doesn’t work out, we will find other options,” Refsguard said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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