On Thursday, April 9, Guilford County announced a “COVID-19 Continuum of Care Plan” for the homeless in which the county will transport those who have tested positive for the disease, or who are symptomatic for it, to a hotel so they can be isolated while remaining positive or in question for the virus.
While the homeless person is at the hotel, the county will deliver three meals a day to them and the person will also be “provided with security.”
On Thursday, Guilford County government posted a YouTube video made from the dais in the commissioners meeting room of the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro. In the video, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips, Interim Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann and Executive Director of Partners Ending Homelessness Brian Hahne explained the county’s strategy to address the issues of those who have no home at a time when just about everyone is supposed to stay at home.
According to county officials, Guilford County’s Health Division of the Department of Health and Human Services worked with Partners Ending Homelessness and Guilford County Continuum of Care to create the new initiative.
Vann said in the video that the program will isolate the homeless in Guilford County who have tested positive for coronavirus or who are symptomatic and awaiting test results.
“A process of isolation is necessary in both of these cases,” Vann said.
Vann said that there will be a coronavirus screening process for all those entering a homeless shelter as well as for the homeless exiting area hospitals. Those who have or may have the virus will be referred to the county’s health staff, “who will approve the isolation process and guide the individual through the process.”
Health staff will first explain the medical implications of the virus “thoroughly” to the homeless person.
The Guilford County Social Services Department will transport the person to the hotel, where he or she will remain “24/7” and will be provided with three meals a day. The meals will be dropped off at the patient’s door and there will be no contact between the isolated individual and the person delivering the food.
The homeless person will be able to watch television and do other things one does in a hotel room to pass the time.
“They will also have access to the hotel amenities inside of the room and they will also be helped through the help desk for any needs they might have,” Vann said.
They will be “provided with security” by county agencies or agencies contracted by the county. The county is referring to the homeless under county care as “guests,” though no doubt one role of the security officers is to make sure the homeless don’t leave and spread the virus.
In the video, Phillips said this of the plan: “The county’s primary role through its Public Health Department is to prevent the spread of the disease. County staff have been diligently working on solutions to mitigate the risks of coronavirus spread within our homeless shelters and amongst our homeless population across the county. Addressing the safety and health of our homeless citizens is of critical importance, in addition to the already significant needs being addressed on behalf of all Guilford County citizens since the onset of the crisis.”
Vann said there are special circumstances surrounding the homeless when it comes to the potential spread of the virus.
“Shelters and other areas for mass congregation are at high risk for the spread of any communicable disease, including COVID-19,” she said. “It is vital that as a community we work together to plan for the needs of our homeless populations.”