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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Homeless Ohioans Face Special Challenges During Coronavirus Pandemic

People gather outside Holy Family Church in Columbus, which does outreach to the homeless in Franklin County.
People gather outside Holy Family Church in Columbus, which does outreach to the homeless in Franklin County.

The more than 10,000 people in Ohio identified as homeless are already at a higher risk for catching communicable diseases but the coronavirus pandemic is making matters worse. 

Advocates for the homeless say it’s hard to maintain the 6-foot distance between residents in shelters, and keeping clean can be an issue. Jessica Jenkins, who works with homeless shelters in Montgomery County, says an estimated 40% of residents there are at risk of contracting COVID19.  

"Our shelter staff are fearful. There’s a lot of anxiety both among providers of not feeling prepared and equipped to respond as well as the natural anxieties of our shelter guests that are in congregate spaces that make it challenging to have the pockets of social and physical distancing," Jenkins says.

Gov. Mike DeWine says state officials are working on coming up with a plan to help homeless Ohioans. 

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.