Coronavirus hits Denver’s homeless population as 2 test positive

At least two people experiencing homelessness in Denver have tested positive for the new coronavirus, advocates say, marking a new and particularly trying chapter in the city’s efforts to quell community spread.

The two positive results came from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ Stout Street Health Center, said Cathy Alderman, a coalition spokesperson. About 50 people have been tested so far and about 20 of those results are still pending.

“We have worked with the patients to get them into safe locations to isolate and recover,” Alderman said.

She said it’s unclear where the two people who tested positive had been staying.

It’s also unclear how many tests have been conducted by Denver Health and other organizations. City public health officials did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Those experiencing homelessness are at particular risk for spreading the virus because often they live in close quarters with extremely limited sanitation facilities available, said Terese Howard, spokesperson for Denver Homeless Out Loud.

Shelters aren’t outfitted for the six-foot social distancing measures recommended by national and global health experts, and Howard said many feel unsafe there.

“A lot of people have come up asking for tents and other survival gear,” Howard said. “They feel safer in those tent encampments than those staying in the shelters.”