“Stay at home” – it’s the resounding message from healthcare professionals to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
But for the homeless with nowhere to go, city officials created a program to help.
“We’ve gotten reports of homeless that are going into businesses that have been shuttered and living in doorways in other areas where there are no restroom facilities,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The city is currently following CDC guidelines, and have stopped enforcement of sidewalk laws.
Instead, officials set up POST: the provisional outdoor screening triage facility.
“We’re hearing from people all around the island about problems with homeless gathering in tighter and more compact areas where there are no social distancing being practiced,” said Caldwell.
Spear-headed by the Honolulu Police Department, POST provides a location for homeless individuals to exercise social distancing in a controlled area.
“We want to provide the homeless an opportunity to come somewhere safe, where we can control their ability to infect the community in the event that they have it and they don’t know it,” said Honolulu Police Captain Mike Lambert.
According to Lambert, the first POST site is at Keehi Lagoon. Eighteen tents have been set up, with a capacity of 40 to 50 individuals. As of April 7, the site is operational.
POST is a voluntary triage. Homeless individuals will undergo self-quarantine for 15 days. If someone develops symptoms of the coronavirus, HPD says they will be taken to a medical care facility.
“Once they go through the 15 day self quarantine process, we will try to identify a larger site, less restrictive in regards to daily screenings. At that point, they’d be low risk,” said Captain Lambert.