Pandemic poses a big threat to homeless New Yorkers

As the coronavirus continues to take its toll on New york City, thousands of homeless families remain at risk. 

The Department of Social Services has confirmed at least 247 positive cases and 13 deaths among the homeless community thus far. The department said a key part of its coronavirus response is securing isolation units for those who express symptoms and do not require hospitalization at five confidential locations throughout the city.

"Our city is moving mountains to support New Yorkers in need, from developing protocol with H+H to opening more than 700 isolation units for symptomatic and confirmed positive individuals to utilize as they recover," a spokesperson told FOX 5 NY. "To date, 67 individuals have resolved their condition and departed isolation."

Advocates for the homeless and elected officials called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to house homeless New Yorkers in 30,000 vacant hotel rooms. 

"We have 100,000 hotel rooms. We're simply asking for 30,000 of those hotel rooms to help ease the congestion in shelters, where we have 60,000 people who are homeless," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.

Those who live in shelters joined in on the videoconference conversation and agreed that conditions are far from ideal for social distancing. Shelter residents argue that the lack of protective gear makes them even more susceptible to the virus.

The Department of Social Services has secured 100,000 masks for shelter staff citywide but said that supply will only last for about a week.


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