Homeless shelters create new safety measures amid coronavirus pandemic

Leaders across Central Florida are looking out for the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Leaders across Central Florida are looking out for the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Orlando Rescue Mission where 258 men sleep in tight quarters, President and CEO Fred Clayton said that sleeping arrangements have been reconfigured to ensure six feet apart.

At the coalition for the homeless that serves more than 500 of the of the areas, meal times have been staggered and the community dinner for homeless is now grab-and-go.

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Many shelters said they’re also doing daily temperature checks, and at the Union Rescue Mission they are maintaining an overnight emergency shelter. If someone presents symptoms, they are isolated for 24 hours. The shelter announced their first coronavirus case last week.

At the Salvation Army on Colonial Drive, an emergency shelter tent is up and running. It has been reserved for three months. Area Commander Capt. Ken Chapman said the tent is up because they wouldn’t be able to safely house people inside.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said a shelter will be put up this week for people who are homeless that need to be quarantined, but he didn’t go into specifics about where.

During a commission meeting Tuesday afternoon, Orange County director of Community and Family Services Lonnie Bell said they’re working on a plan to put those who are healthy and not showing symptoms of COVID-19 among the homeless community somewhere safe.

“I’m very happy to say that we’ve had some very good conversations with hotels the last few days. We have another call scheduled for this afternoon, we have another proposal for a hotel tomorrow,” Bell said, but she did not specify which hotels.

Leaders in Orlando and Orange County are looking out for the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic.