Hundreds of homeless in Las Vegas sleep six feet apart in parking lot after their shelter was hit by coronavirus

A local shelter operated by Catholic Charities temporarily shut down last week after a homeless man was tested positive for the contagious virus


                            Hundreds of homeless in Las Vegas sleep six feet apart in parking lot after their shelter was hit by coronavirus
(Getty Images)

Las Vegas is reportedly scrambling to find space for its homeless community after multiple shelters for them were closed amid the self-isolation federal response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country. A local shelter operated by Catholic Charities temporarily shut down last week after a homeless man was tested positive for the contagious coronavirus.

The city and Clark County officials, in a bid to provide space for around 500 people, are creating makeshift sleeping sites while keeping the parameters for social distancing in view.

Reports state that a makeshift site has been created at the upper market parking lot of the Cashman Center where each person is separated by boxes painted on the ground to designate zones for each individual. 

People arrive at a temporary homeless shelter with painted social-distancing boxes in a parking lot at Cashman Center on March 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada  (Getty Images)

A press release stated that officials expect the Catholic Charities to reopen sometime this week. A spokesperson for the City of Las Vegas, while talking to CNN, said, "It’s not just the homeless. This has overwhelmed our resources everywhere and I think everybody is doing the best they can."

Volunteers setting up the makeshift site had reportedly first laid out donated carpets on the parking lot grounds to accommodate sleepers, however, concerns of disinfecting them made them scrap the option. Nearly 66 people showed up on the first night and a total of 117 homeless people were registered on March 29. 

Ward 5 City Councilman Cedric Crear, who represents the area, said, "This is an excellent example of the city, County, and homeless providers coming together to help slow the spread of COVID-19. I want to thank the staff and volunteers who are making this happen during difficult times."

City Mayor Carolyn G Goodman also commented on the makeshift shelters, set to operate till April 3. "The city wants to make this site available because we know the obligation we have to help ease the overflow at the Homeless Courtyard," she said.

Officials reportedly opted not to use the inside of the convention center and reserved the building for hospital overflow space instead should the community need it amid rising cases of the coronavirus in the region. 

People start to arrive at a temporary homeless shelter set up in a parking lot at Cashman Center on March 28, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Getty Images)

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, in a press release, stated, "We needed a solution to this problem quickly, and I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work so that our homeless population has a place to sleep tonight."

More than 6,500 people in Las Vegas do not have access to permanent housing, according to the New York Times report, and at least 70 percent of the homeless community in the region sleeps outdoors. 

The number of coronavirus infections in Clark County reached 961 as of  March 31, according to the Southern Nevada Health District. Out of these at least 28 patients succumbed to the virus while another 198 people are hospitalized.

The US, as of April 2, registered more than 216,000 coronavirus cases in the country, with over 5,000 recorded deaths. COVID-19 has infected nearly 100,000 people across the world with a recorded fatality of almost 50,000. Although multiple countries are striving to find a cure for the novel coronavirus, there is no known official cure or vaccine for the deadly infection yet. 

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