How King County is looking to keep homeless safe from coronavirus

Mar 3, 2020, 8:00 AM | Updated: 10:22 am

With coronavirus continuing to spread among Western Washington’s most vulnerable population, questions have arisen regarding the best way to keep the region’s homeless safe.

Live updates: Region continues to bend under pressure from coronavirus

“We do know that our residents who experience homelessness are often particularly vulnerable,” King County Department of Community and Human Services Director Leo Flor told KIRO Radio. “Being homeless is hard on a person’s health in the first place.”

To that end, the county is entering the final stages of purchasing a motel to house coronavirus patients who don’t have the means to self-quarantine. Additionally, 14 modular units have arrived from Texas able to hold up to 112 people, as well as from Marysville, able to hold 72 more.

“One of the things that we know right now is our medical system and the emergency medical system are going to come under significant strain,” Flor noted. “And one of the most important things that we can do is to ensure that folks who don’t need immediate medical care are not going to emergency rooms and have other safe places to be.”

Read more about all of the cases in Washington state

Flor also points out that coronavirus can affect people “from all walks of life, regardless of whether or not they are housed.” That being so, the county still saw a need to “take specific actions for people who don’t have a home to go back to.”

King County is also looking to work with local shelters and aid providers, and spoke with 175 representatives Monday to coordinate efforts. The hope is to disseminate information about best practices for sanitization, as well as “observing social distance,” and “mak[ing] sure that we are providing enough within shelters so that folks can minimize the spread [of coronavirus].”

“Some of that seems basic, and it’s what we know is most effective to blunt the spread of the virus in populations, particularly those who congregate,” Flor outlined.

MyNorthwest News

uw president cauce...

Frank Sumrall

UW President Ana Mari Cauce to step down after 10 years

UW President Ana Mari Cauce will step down from leading the university once her second five-year term ends in June 2025.

13 hours ago

Image: All lanes on Interstate 5 south in Everett were closed on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. It cause...

Steve Coogan

All lanes have reopened on I-5 south in Everett after an unexpected closure

All lanes reopened on Interstate 5 (I-5) south in Everett after an incident closed them Wednesday, the Department of Transportation reported.

14 hours ago

Image: A dog was found around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at Colman Dock in Seattle without ...

Steve Coogan

Is your friend missing? Dog found on a Washington ferry without its owner

A dog was found without its owner in Seattle early Wednesday and Washington State Ferries is attempting to reunite the two.

14 hours ago

Photo: Front and back of Olympic "Boys in the Boat" rower John White's gold medal....

Julia Dallas

‘Part of our legacy’: ‘Boys in the Boat’ rower’s family yearns to bring gold medal home

"Boys in the Boat" rower John White's Olympic gold medal was put up for auction. His grandson Colby White is fighting to get it back.

14 hours ago


Feliks Banel

Frank Sinatra still sings in Seattle

On a late spring day nearly 60 years ago, one of the biggest names in show business came to Seattle and played a concert on a Sunday evening. It turned out to be a show that’s been echoing in some parts of the music world ever since.

15 hours ago

tacoma fire...

Frank Sumrall

One person, two dogs dead in Tacoma apartment building fire

Firefighters found one person and two dogs dead inside a Tacoma apartment following a fire there early Wednesday.

17 hours ago

How King County is looking to keep homeless safe from coronavirus