by Erica C. Barnett
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
An alarming increase in COVID-19 cases among people experiencing homelessness has been exacerbated in recent weeks, homeless service providers say, by rumors that if people enter a County-run isolation and quarantine site, they won’t be allowed to leave.
And even before these rumors began circulating widely, many unhoused people who tested positive for COVID-19 were reluctant to enter isolation and quarantine, for reasons that ranged from active substance use to the fear that if they left an encampment, they would lose everything they had — a not unreasonable assumption, given the recent uptick in encampment sweeps.
“The resistance, in my experience, has been across the board,” Dr. Cyn Kotarski, medical director for the Public Defender Association (PDA), said. “I haven’t met anyone so far who doesn’t have some fear and some resistance to go, and that’s mostly just because it’s overwhelming. It can feel pretty scary to think that you don’t know where you’re going or why, especially when you’re taking someone out of their own environment and their own community,” Kotarski said. The PDA is a partner on several efforts, including Co-LEAD and JustCAREare, to move unsheltered people into hotels during the pandemic.
Continue reading As COVID Cases at Shelters Rise, Many Are Reluctant to Enter County Quarantine Sites