City hospitals are sending apparently homeless people who test positive for coronavirus but aren’t in need of intensive medical care to the shelter system for isolation, THE CITY has learned.
Meanwhile, the number of homeless people with coronavirus infections living in city shelters more than doubled over the weekend as social services officials grappled with how to handle the growing number of cases affecting some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
The Department of Homeless Services confirmed Monday that the number of shelter residents with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, jumped from seven on Friday to 17 by Sunday night. That’s a major increase from 10 days ago when only one shelter resident had registered a positive test.
Homeless people with the virus have now been found in 12 shelters across the city, DHS said.
Now the city-run hospital system is transferring patients who’ve tested positive for the virus into the shelter system if the person has no known address and isn’t deemed to require acute medical care.
As of Sunday, one such patient had been sent to the city homeless shelter system. Isaac McGinn, a DHS spokesperson, said the person only needed isolation.
Four of the 17 shelter residents with COVID-19 remained hospitalized, while the other 13 were “only exhibiting mild illness and do not require intensive hospital care at this time,” McGinn said.
Most of those with the lower-level symptoms were taking up beds in an isolation ward DHS has set up at an unspecified location, he said.