KEY POINTS

  • Over 300 homeless New Yorkers affected by coronavirus are in isolation 
  • 5 locations set aside for New York City's homeless population are reportedly hotels
  • Homeless people are more vulnerable to the virus because they can't self-isolate

Hundreds of homeless people with COVID-19 symptoms in New York City are now being isolated at five locations. All the locations set aside for the affected homeless are undisclosed but, they are all reportedly hotels according to the New York Post.

It was towards the end of March when authorities reported the first COVID-19 death of a homeless person in New York City, following the death of another homeless person in California. The news sparked fears that the number of COVID-19 deaths among the homeless population will rise if immediate action wasn't taken.

Since then, the city authorities have reported that 213 homeless people from 93 shelters have tested positive for the coronavirus, with 11 dying from the illness and 11 already having completed the quarantine.

Now, the five sites are currently holding 392 homeless people in isolation, from those who tested positive and those who are under quarantine "out of an abundance of caution." On Monday, the city's Department of Social Services also announced that it has begun to move the most vulnerable among the homeless to the shelters where they can self-isolate. This includes those who are over the age of 70.

Earlier in the city's battle against the coronavirus, advocates warned authorities that the homeless population has a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus than other New Yorkers because they do not have the option to self-isolate and, they do not have access to the proper supplies that are needed to stay safe.

Given the current situation in New York, advocates have also asked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and state Gov. Andrew Cuomo to utilize 30,000 vacant hotel rooms so that the homeless can self-isolate and hopefully protect themselves and others from the virus. Earlier, other local organizations, including VOCAL-NY also called to make sanitation facilities such as hand-washing stations, hygiene kits and toilets accessible to homeless individuals.

New York City alone is home to tens of thousands of homeless people across the city’s shelters and thousands more who live on the streets.

On March 27, the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that President Trump signed includes $4 billion in homeless assistance grants and $25 million for runaway and homeless youth programs.

A homeless man sleeps on a street outside a branch of HSBC bank in New York A homeless man sleeps on a street outside a branch of HSBC bank in New York Photo: Reuters