ST. PAUL — More than 50 older adults experiencing homelessness in Ramsey County have been provided shelter at an area hotel to help protect them from COVID-19, according to a county spokesman.

Ramsey County and a team of other partners transported the group — who are all 60 or older – from Catholic Charities Higher Ground facility to the hotel, John Siqveland said.

The county is funding their stay to help free up capacity at the shelter and provide protection for the higher risk residents.

Metro Transit provided transportation to the InterContinental in St. Paul. It has not yet been determined how long they will stay.

“We will be evaluating this program on a week-to-week basis,” Siqveland said.

Catholic Charities said the move was an important step.

“For years, our Catholic Charities Homeless Elders team has worked to improve the lives of older adults experiencing homelessness, and we know that this population is more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it more difficult for them to cope with and recover from illnesses like COVID-19,” said Melea Blanchard, program supervisor for Catholic Charities Homeless Elders Program. “This partnership will help keep this vulnerable population safe and will also allow for additional social distancing in our shelters and opportunity centers.”

The county also offered shelter to youth experiencing homelessness this past weekend as part of a pilot program launched in response to community concerns that young people are particularly vulnerable right now because their access to certain nonprofit resources has been cut off amid the pandemic.

Of 38 youth identified by outreach staff, 18 applied to stay at the hotel over the weekend and five showed up, Siqveland said. In addition to lodging, the youth were provided meals. The county plans to continue to assess the viability of that program as well.