COLORADO SPRINGS — While novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, fears have seemingly put everyone on edge, there's one community that the CDC says is double at risk. Homeless populations from coast to coast are at a greater danger of being infected with COVID-19.
According to the National Homeless Coalition, almost 200,000 people are considered homeless in the U.S. In the Pikes Peak Region, there are about 1,500 people considered homeless. Whenever there is any sort of disease outbreak, the homeless population is extremely vulnerable to it.
The homeless don't always have a place to wash their hands and it's also a struggle to get any sort medical attention if you don't have a roof over your head. There are two homeless shelters in our area are taking extra precautions.
At the Springs Rescue Mission in Colorado Springs, staff members have set up washing stations, they are passing out hand sanitizers, and they are making sure everyone washes their hands periodically.
"So many people rely on our facilities," said Cindy Johnson, development director of the Springs Rescue Mission. "What we are doing above and beyond is every two hours we clean. We make sure the door knobs are clean, we've got hand sanitizers near every exit."
In Pueblo, the same thing is happening. The Pueblo Rescue Mission has signs posted everywhere telling people to wash their hands and clean their surroundings regularly. The shelter even stopped taking in people from outside the Pueblo area just to be on the safe side.
"Those who are coming from out of town and out of state, we provide them with sleeping bags and blankets, but we just can't have them in here and it's sad," said Kathy Cline, executive director of the Pueblo Rescue Mission.
The city of Denver is also taking the same measures. Health officials have not yet reported COVID-19 outbreaks among homeless populations but in the past, these populations are always hit the hardest when illnesses, such as tuberculosis and other diseases, spread.
Experts and advocates say it's common to see homeless people with serious underlying health issues like Hepatitis C, heart disease, and diabetes. The same goes for the patients who have already died from COVID-19.