NEW YORK CITY — Peter Tobin said he’s been homeless, on and off the streets of New York City, for the last six months.
“It’s pretty difficult,” he said, “because a lot of people are sick. With the corona stuff going on, everything is sort of, like, delayed. It takes a lot longer of a process than normal to get services to, you know, get off the street and into an apartment.”
Despite living in unsanitary conditions with no regular access to disinfectants, masks and gloves — let alone a warm bed to sleep in — the city’s street homeless population is doing extraordinarily well in warding off coronavirus infections, if the city’s latest statistics are to be believed.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeless Services told PIX11 News they’ve only had to refer a dozen homeless individuals to get medical care for COVID-19.
“As of April 22, DHS outreach teams have conducted more than 16,000 engagements on the topic of COVID-19, including surveying clients in each of those engagements regarding whether they are feeling any symptoms. As a result, those outreach teams have made 12 referrals to care.”
The spokesperson adds, “At this time, these referrals have not resulted in any positive cases.”
That’s right – not one recorded COVID-19 case among the city’s entire street homeless population, which is typically between three and four thousand people. It’s likely higher when you consider the people who refuse to be counted.
“I don’t need no help. I’m homeless,” said homeless New Yorker Troy Walker.
The major take away is simple – and concerning; despite no officially recorded infections – we may never really know just how bad coronavirus is affecting New York City’s street homeless population.