GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the surge of the delta variant in Kent County is causing issues for the homeless population.
Quarantine housing for those who test positive are at capacity. People are being turned away and back out into the community, which is causing concern for more spread of the disease.
“Anytime anyone who is COVID positive is out in our community, it’s really a threat to all of our public health,” Degage Ministries Executive Director Thelma Ensink said. “So, this isn’t just a homelessness issue, this is a public health issue.”
The county along with Homeless Outreach Team in Grand Rapids are looking for additional space like a gym or large retail building that can house multiple people safely.
At Degage and Mel Trotter Ministries in downtown Grand Rapids, to stay the night, you have to get tested. If you test positive, you are taken to what’s called the Continuum of Care House to quarantine for 14 days.
Ensink says weekly COVID-19 testing for the shelter population showed a low number of COVID-19 cases through the summer. But this weekend, case numbers jumped.
As of Monday, there are 16 COVID-19 cases at the house; nine people are currently in isolation and two were turned away because the house is now at capacity.
It’s considered a low number, but the more people spreading the disease, the faster it will jump from person to person.
“As long as the delta variant continues to be present in Grand Rapids, we’re going to need that space, so we are really hoping in the next few days that we locate that space,” Ensink said. “And hoping too that infection will move through that area and that people will do much better in the next few days and weeks.”
If you have a space, the county would like to hear from you. There is funding, but the county would not say how much is being allocated for quarantine housing.