As Demand For Shelters Rises, Staff Find New Ways To Maintain Six-Foot Distance

Apr 1, 2020

Finding a way to serve people who are homeless is posing new problems in the age of COVID-19.  

Maintaining physical distance is increasingly difficult as shelters see higher demand.  

But Audrey Hart, Executive Director of New Hanover Disaster Coalition, says people in the shelters are finding new ways to do just that. 

"The CDC recommends doing head to toe. So if you can't provide six feet, just switch the beds – flip the bed so that it's head to toe. And so we're working with a lot of our partners to figure out what their capacity is, where their service gaps are and everything like that. So it's definitely changing it. It's a very new world for us."

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says conditions in shelters are very much top of mind for her agency.

"We are definitely working here in the state to come up with various types of housing plans and then working with FEMA and other federal partners to get the funding and approvals needed to make that happen."

Housing is a hard issue, says Cohen, in the best of times.  But officials are also looking to establish places where sick people can recover if they contract COVID-19.