How Minnesota's homeless and those who care for them are coping with COVID-19

Hennepin County has two confirmed COVID-19 cases among those experiencing homelessness, and 10 others with suspected cases. So far, Ramsey County does not have any positive cases among the homeless community, but the numbers of those being isolated with symptoms is on the rise.

Meanwhile, those in charge of caring for those experiencing homelessness are hoping more COVID-19 tests could help keep things contained.

The Minnesota Community Care clinic in St. Paul hasn’t stopped caring for patients – including those who are unsheltered.

“It’s really hard to live outside; it’s really hard to live in a room with a hundred other people where you get exposed to stuff all the time, whether it be the flu or the norovirus or the coronavirus,” said Clinical Lead Morgan Weinert. 

But, how they see people has changed in the midst of the pandemic

“We’re just triaging folks in the tent first. If they have respiratory symptoms we’re trying to meet their needs outside in the tent,” they said. 

Minnesota Community Care is also working to figure out who has symptoms of COVID-19 and then testing those on site.

“As I’m sure you’ve heard, tests are in really short supply so the Minnesota Department of Health is going to be working with us to get us more tests so we’re able to test the people who have the symptoms that are most troubling to us,” Weinert said.

Those who have symptoms or suspected cases are referred next door to Mary Hall, the respite program for Ramsey County. Residents get their own rooms where their vitals are checked.

Minnesota Community Care says there were 11 people there Thursday. As of Tuesday, it’s climbed to 40. So far, no one has tested positive, but they’re still waiting on results

“It’s really important that we know if we’re getting positive cases because we need to do everything we can to keep this population safe to keep it from spreading further,” Weinert said.