Ohio’s homeless population grappling with coronavirus

Ohio homeless population coping with coronavirus

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There are more than 10,000 people in Ohio experiencing homelessness on any given day who are now facing unprecedented danger.

It's a world that's mostly invisible to the rest of us.

19 News was allowed into a homeless community living in the woods.

As we discovered, it’s a place where there is no Wine with DeWine press conferences and no 24-hour coronavirus coverage, but they knew something had happened.

Roger Shortridge, who lives at one of the homeless camps in Akron, said, "It's hard enough as it is getting food and stuff. Let alone having to now. We got to find the stores that are open."

It's not just the grocery stores- the restaurant industry shut down has affected the homeless as well.

"With everything shut down, that's that cuts out a lot of that stuff. Plus, like we got pickers who go check dumpsters for stuff, like fresh stuff," said Shortridge. "All of the stores are closed and the dumpsters are empty. That really It decimated our like food intake by like 50%."

Local volunteers like Sage Lewis, who's with the Homeless Charity and Village, go to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to deliver food to the homeless a couple of times a week.

"The mere fact that if we can bring supplies to these folks and they don't have to go out and get them, we're making the entire city more healthy," said Lewis.

Shortridge stated that they are grateful for the help, but they are still hungry.

Before the shutdown, many of the homeless could count on a hot meal from local churches.

Shortridge said many of the churches stopped serving since the shutdown, and the ones that serve "to-go" meals are either too far, or he can't get there in time to get a meal before they close.

Shortridge explained that he is mostly surviving on bread.

“We got a lot of animal crackers. Somebody dropped off like 16 cases of animal crackers. Like the frosted kind and for the people that have cavities and stuff that kind of sucks. I’m one of the people I got an abscess. There’s just tears me up at night,” said Shortridge.

Many of the homeless suffer chronic underlying health conditions, making them easy targets for the deadly disease, especially when they can't even practice basic CDC recommendations.

Shortridge explained that they're washing their hands in a nearby creek.

According to Lewis, it's inevitable that the homeless are going to end up getting sick.

If somebody does get sick, they usually stay in their tent for a few days.

If they don't recover, then they will try to get help by going to the hospital, which is also a

"We got carts like I've wheeled somebody to the hospital before on a wheelchair from down here," said Shortridge.

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