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Homelessness will exacerbate COVID-19 virus -- Lucy Gibson

Homelessness will exacerbate COVID-19 virus -- Lucy Gibson

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To combat the COVID-19 coronavirus, we’re all supposed to stay home as much as possible and avoid public contact. What about the several thousand people in Dane County who don’t have a home to stay in?

I’ve had occasion to take someone to The Beacon in Madison to access its services for homeless people. It’s a day shelter where people can at least hang out during the day and get help with food, housing and other services. The Beacon is jam-packed all the time. No isolation is possible for people who want to access those services, or just get out of the cold.

If we really want to address the national emergency of the new coronavirus, we should address homelessness. In World War II, the army quickly built temporary shelters for troops. If we would treat homelessness as the national emergency it is, we would do things like that, as fast as possible -- within weeks, not decades.

It’s short-sighted to tell us to “stay home” and not to get close to strangers while ignoring the homeless population’s inability to follow those guidelines. Homelessness is a hole in the safety net for combating this epidemic. 

Lucy Gibson, Madison

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