Isolating Vermont's homeless population with COVID-19 symptoms

Published: Apr. 5, 2020 at 6:26 PM EDT
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Efforts to isolate some members of Vermont's homeless population with COVID-19 symptoms are underway.

Michael Monte with the Champlain Housing Trust says the nonprofit receives referrals from health care providers to determine who gets put into quarantine at Harbor Place in Shelburne.

"Harbor Place is basically, is serving people who have symptoms but have not been yet tested," he said. "Folks basically go there in sort of isolation for a period of time until the tests come back."

Perry Thornley, who identifies as homeless, says he's been tested twice, both times the results have been negative. He did not stay at Harbor Place but says there are many other places available to members of the homeless population when they are put into isolation.

"I know they have a camp down by the waterfront but they put me in a hotel," he said. "It's just a quick test and it's better to know than to not know because I don't want to give it to somebody and I don't want to catch it either."

Vermont has established almost 400 rooms across the state for homeless people who show symptoms of the virus but don't require hospital care. So far, the Champlain Housing Trust has not seen any positive test results from those staying at Harbor Place. If someone does test positive, they would be moved to a different facility to keep the community, and those living at the facility healthy.

Officials say they have restricted guest visits to Harbor Place and have added security and fencing to help keep guests on-site. The facility has more than 50 available rooms for referrals, and once people are tested, even if they test negative for the virus, they will be moved to another facility or motel.