Home News Coronavirus US: Homeless deaths in NY 61% higher than citywide

Coronavirus US: Homeless deaths in NY 61% higher than citywide

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Homeless New Yorkers have been dying from the novel coronavirus at more than double the rate of the citywide population, a new report finds.    

The homeless mortality rate for those sleeping in shelters was 321 deaths per 100,000 people compared to the New York City average of 200 per 100,000.

That’s a rate 61 percent higher than that of the general population, according to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless.  

Between March 1 through May 31, 86 homeless people have died of the highly-infectious disease in the Big Apple.  

The pandemic has been particularly challenging for the homeless because they are unable to self-quarantine, cannot social distance in crowded shelters and less than adequate access to healthcare. 

A new report found that coronavirus morality rate for homeless New Yorkers sleeping in shelters was 321 deaths per 100,000 people - 61% higher compared to the New York City average of 200 deaths from coronavirus per 100,000 (above)

A new report found that coronavirus morality rate for homeless New Yorkers sleeping in shelters was 321 deaths per 100,000 people – 61% higher compared to the New York City average of 200 deaths from coronavirus per 100,000 (above)

April 2020's coronavirus deaths among New York's homeless in shelters was 157% higher than the number of homeless deaths from all causes in 2019 (above)

April 2020’s coronavirus deaths among New York’s homeless in shelters was 157% higher than the number of homeless deaths from all causes in 2019 (above) 

Between March 1 through May 31, 86 homeless people have died from COVID-19 in New York City. Pictured: NYPD officers wake up sleeping passengers and direct them to the exits at the 207th Street A-train station, April 30

Between March 1 through May 31, 86 homeless people have died from COVID-19 in New York City. Pictured: NYPD officers wake up sleeping passengers and direct them to the exits at the 207th Street A-train station, April 30

For the report, the team looked at fatality data from the NYC Department of Homeless Services and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

They found that, as of June 1, the overall New York City mortality rate from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, was 200 deaths per 100,000 people. 

However, for homeless New Yorkers living in shelters, the mortality rate was 321 deaths per 100,000 people – about 61 percent higher. 

The reported New York State mortality rate was 152 deaths per 100,000 people, making the homeless mortality rate 111 percent higher.

The report also found that just in April alone, 58 homeless New Yorkers died of COVID-19, 54 of whom were living in shelters.

By comparison, last year, about 34 homeless people died each month, including 21 in shelters.

This means April’s coronavirus deaths among New York’s homeless in shelters was 157 percent higher than the number of homeless deaths from all causes in 2019.    

‘Government responses at every level have been far too slow to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, leading to chaos for those sleeping in shelters, on the streets, and on the subway,’ the authors of the report read.

Coalition for the Homeless said there are a number of reasons why the death rate has been higher for homeless New Yorkers.

This includes inability to socially distance at shelters, insufficient amounts of soap in bathroom to wash their hands and staff shortages that prevent shared spaces from being frequently cleaned. 

Meanwhile, unsheltered homeless people face even greater challenges to stay safe due to a lack of access to cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizer and wipes.

The organization is asking the city for several policy changes to keep the homeless healthy.

This includes offering thousands of single-person hotel rooms for all homeless individuals, implementing free coronavirus testing, reversing the closure of the subways between 1am. and 5am and making sure all unsheltered homeless people have  access to basic hygiene supplies. 

It comes not long after a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 25 percent of homeless shelter residents tested positive for the coronavirus.

To protect homeless shelter residents and staff from infection, the CDC suggests social distancing guidelines be implemented.

This includes residents’ head are at least six feet apart while sleeping and all residents wear masks or cloth face coverings.

The authors also recommend making sure all residents and staffers are tested, whether or not they have symptoms, at shelters where clusters have been identified 

In the US, there are more than two million confirmed cases of the virus  – 205,000 of those in New York City – and more than 113,000 deaths.

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