Why should people living in Kitsap County (or anywhere) be concerned about COVID-19 and other viruses spreading within the homeless population?
Those of us who have a warm and inviting home to return to do not typically give a second thought to things like where our next meal is coming from, or where we are going to spend the night. However, for these unfortunate people who do not have their own home, those two things are foremost in their mind. When it comes to doing things that infectious disease professionals are telling us to do, such as wearing a mask while around others, practicing social distancing, washing hands often (if a homeless individual even has a place to do that), and properly shielding a cough or sneeze, it may not register in the mind of a homeless person as something they should be doing. For people living outside, most any disease (COVID-19 and others) can spread quickly throughout the camp.
You may not realize it, but people experiencing homelessness frequent many of the same places you and I do. Places like grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and for those with cars (that they often live in), gas stations. Therefore, it’s possible, even likely, that a homeless person may leave the virus in the air we inhale, or on a surface that our fingers or hands touch, just like any of us would do if we happen to be carrying a virus. This leaves all of us open to an increased risk of acquiring COVID-19 or some other infection. It is in everybody’s best interest to help people experiencing homelessness obtain housing, temporary first if needed, and permanent – a place they can call “home”.