HOMESTEAD, Fla. – A 26-year-old man may be the first homeless person to die of the coronavirus in Miami-Dade County.
According to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and Chapman Partnership, the man, whose name was not released was a resident of the Chapman South Homeless Assistance Center.
He visited the health clinic inside the Chapman center Friday with a fever. He was immediately taken to Jackson South, where he died from complications of COVID-19 a few hours later.
“We are devastated and crushed. Our role is not to lose the lives of anyone from this very fragile and compromised population,” said Ron Book, Chair of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. "His death strengthens our resolve to get more COVID-19 tests in hand so we can fight harder and smarter to slow the spread of the virus within our sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations."
The Homeless Trust counts more than 8,000 homeless and another 1,020 unsheltered in Miami-Dade County; seven have tested positive for COVID-19.
In keeping with CDC guidance, the Chapman South facility was undergoing a deep cleaning.
On Friday, several organizations, including the advocacy group Dream Defenders, were out in force in downtown Miami to hand out tents and toiletries to homeless on the streeets.
They were also demanding Miami-Dade County government and the Homeless Trust step up and expand resources for Miami’s homeless community.
Book said the Homeless Trust is the only organization in the state testing homeless folks on the street. They also have testing at Camillus House.
“Seven weeks ago, we started going out to the streets. We have over 600 rooms tied up, under contract to put people in self-isolation,” said Book.
Book said, however, that the toughest thing is trying to convince many of the city’s homeless to get tested and to seek shelter.