Sunday, March 22, 2020

What about the homeless?

People without a home to self-quarantine in and without regular access to sanitation are likelier to contract the coronavirus. 

We have all heard what to do to minimize the risk of getting coronavirus: Wash your hands regularly, stay at home if possible, stay away from large crowds and keep a safe distance. But what if your home is a tent without running water? Or if you can only get a warm meal and a roof over your head in a shelter where the beds are packed together in cramped quarters? This is the difficult reality facing homeless people.  

In 2019, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area had roughly 9,800 homeless residents, according to a study by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The number fluctuates greatly and cannot be pinned down exactly. One thing is certain, however: a large number of people without a roof over their heads are facing even greater challenges since the coronavirus outbreak.

In New York City, the coronavirus has reached the homeless shelters. As of Thursday, there are seven cases in different shelters. 

The National Alliance to End Homelessness states on their website that "individuals experiencing homelessness include many older adults, often with compounding disabilities, who reside in large congregate facilities or in unsheltered locations with poor access to sanitation." The coronavirus entry continues:  "Their age, poor health, disability, and living conditions make them highly vulnerable to illness."

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