NYC Has Done Almost Nothing to Protect 70,000 People in its Homeless Shelters

Source: The Intercept

New York City, New York / USA – April 1 2020: homeless person reading news paper, eating outside food, walking around empty city during quarantine coronavirus outbreak in new York city.

By tetiana.photographer/Shutterstock.com


Johanna Garcia is doing her best to keep her family and others safe during the coronavirus pandemic. She washes her hands a lot; she cleans constantly; she goes on social distance walks with her kids, 10-month-old Logan and 4-year-old Abigail. But there’s only so much she can do while living at one of New York City’s approximately 450 homeless shelters.

Garcia, a 27-year-old former preschool teacher who now works at the community group Legal Hand, has asthma, and Logan has a respiratory condition tied to fibromyalgia, meaning they are at high risk for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Even though New York City is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, the shelter where they live has done little to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. The conditions, in fact, could contribute to its spread: There are no cooking facilities except for a single microwave, shared by almost 70 adults and 55 children. Each family has only one room, meaning that if a family member gets sick, quarantine — what medical experts recommend to prevent spread of the highly contagious disease — is not an option. The facility’s case managers, like countless people across the country, are working from home — leaving Garcia and others in the shelter behind.

“It’s awfully concerning,” Garcia said. “As homeless people, we’re often forgotten about.”

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