Boston city leaders stepping up to help the homeless stay healthy during coronavirus emergency

BOSTON (WHDH) - Though there are currently no reported coronavirus cases among Boston’s homeless community, city leaders say they are working to put a plan in place should that change.

A pop-up clinic placed outside the  Southhampton Street shelter Wednesday will be used to test and possibly isolate homeless residents who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

“We want to make sure we have a safe place, we’ve got an opportunity to properly screen and that we have an appropriate response both with safe and an opportunity to recover,” said Boston City Councilwoman Annissa Essabi-George.

Two more testing, screening, and isolation tents will pop up in front of Woods Mullen and the Pine Street Inn later in the week.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the city is taking these steps to ensure the city’s most vulnerable can get access to the services they need.

“There are no plans to close our shelters,” says Mayor Walsh. “We are working to make sure those experiencing homelessness are supported and kept safe.”

Catholic Charities of the Greater Boston Area runs four shelters across the city and they said they are doing all they can to be proactive.

“Making sure that our folks are doing their social distancing within the shelter in the dining halls, in the hallways, etc., and making sure they are in contact with us, even when they are not in the shelter,” Beth Chambers said. “At one of our shelters, which is a women’s shelter, where they go in and out, they are taking their temperature before they come into the shelter, to be safe.”

Catholic Charities — along with the Boston Public Health Commission and a number of other shelters across the state — will continue to make changes as necessary.

“This is a very vulnerable population. Do we have the women stay in more during the day, versus going out in the morning and one that we are going to keep talking about them about,” said Chambers.

The city has designated a treatment center with 17 beds should someone test positive. Another 38 beds will be made available by the end of the week.

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