City of Amarillo helping the homeless population combat COVID-19

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The coronavirus is still ever-present in the Texas Panhandle and one population that is most vulnerable is the homeless.

“They are very vulnerable. They have lots of medical issues especially from living out on the streets for so long, and so, perhaps, they are more susceptible and then being in a congregant setting,” said Juliana Kitten, Director of Community Development with the City of Amarillo. “Think nursing home. We know that is not the best place for people with this virus.”

Kitten said at the beginning of May, they started moving certain individuals of the population to hotels and have continued to do so. It’s a program available through an emergency solutions grant.

Kitten said if a homeless person needs a test, they pick them up by bus and take them to a testing site. Then have them stay in a hotel until the results come back or until their quarantine is over.

Kitten told us she believes at least two people came down with COVID-19 after being tested.

“My recollection is there was two that tested positive and that were under quarantine for that period and were fine and survived and didn’t need to be hospitalized,” said Kitten.

When COVID-19 first hit the area, Kitten said that the Salvation Army was at capacity and could not do social distancing.

Amarillo’s Salvation Army PR Manager, Quintin Marquez, said the capacity has let up by moving people into the hotels and they are now able to spread out the beds and do proper social distancing.

Kitten said that it has been a community-wide effort to help with task forces and organizations like the Amarillo Police Department Crisis Intervention Team and Amarillo ISD feed people in the hotels.


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