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As COVID Surges Again in NYC Shelters, Advocates Renew Call for Hotel Rooms

(CITY LIMITS) David Brand, December 22, 2021

The number of COVID-positive New Yorkers staying in city shelters or connected with outreach workers more than doubled during the first two weeks of December. Advocates have urged the mayor to resume an initiative that allowed thousands of homeless New Yorkers to stay in one- or two-person hotel rooms during the early days of the pandemic.

New COVID cases are once again surging inside New York City’s homeless shelters and Natosha Sanders is scared. 

Sanders, 47, lives in a congregate shelter in Midtown and said at least five of the building’s 68 residents tested positive for COVID-19 Monday and Tuesday, as the city grapples with a major spike in cases fueled by the fast-moving omicron variant. One woman received her result by email in the middle of the night, a few days after taking the test. That means she was staying in her 10-person dorm while contagious.

“I’m afraid. And now I’m stuck,” Sanders said. “I have a grandmother who just had surgery and I have a young grandson.”

The number of COVID-positive New Yorkers staying in Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters or connected with outreach workers more than doubled between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15—from 70 to 142—according to weekly reports released by the agency. That figure marks a fraction of the 46,000-person shelter population, which also includes about 14,660 children, many of whom are too young for the vaccine.

Source: City Limits