City confirms 39 cases of COVID-19 in shelters
by Benjamin Fang
Apr 01, 2020 | 741 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As of March 24, there have been 39 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the city’s homeless shelter system, according to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), including one New Yorker who died from the virus.

The agency reported that the positive cases were found across 27 shelter locations. Twelve people experiencing homelessness have been hospitalized, including the person who died on March 24.

“Our hearts go out to this individual’s friends and family,” said Department of Social Services (DSS) spokesperson Isaac McGinn.

Eight homeless New Yorkers remain in “DHS isolation units,” while one person completed isolation and departed after a brief period of hospitalization. Those individuals only exhibited mild symptoms, DHS said.

Nine others are self-isolating within their unit, while the remaining nine people who tested positive made other arrangements after leaving the shelter system.

Following the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s guidance, affected DHS shelters were comprehensively cleaned and are being actively monitored for clients or staff who may be experiencing symptoms.

“What we’re seeing continues to track the trends across our city, state and country,” McGinn said in a statement. “With more testing taking place, we’re effectively identifying more positives, which gives us the ability to immediately connect each individual to the care they need, whether in hospital or in isolation.”

DHS outreach teams conducted more than 6,000 engagements on COVID-19, the agency said, including surveying clients to see if they felt any symptoms.

As a result of those engagements, 11 referrals were made to care, including transporting each of the clients to NYC Health+Hospital locations for further evaluation, according to DHS. The transports were voluntary.

As for the New Yorkers experiencing street homelessness, there have been no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, DHS said.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Social Services has also isolated any client who has exhibited symptoms of the virus. Last week, DSS had 500 isolation units available across four locations. Those units are sited independent of DHS shelters.

As of March 24, 65 people were isolated in DSS units across two locations, the agency said.

“We remain focused on coordinating with agency partners, health experts and providers to keep our clients informed and prepared as we respond together to these realities,” McGinn said.
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