On June 8th 2020, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) in partnership with Denver Public Health (DPH) and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) conducted a voluntary COVID-19 testing of 50 people who live at the encampments around 22nd and Stout and Champa. Out of these 50 people, 0 people tested positive for COVID.
This compares with 106 positive COVID cases tested in the two large auxiliary shelters at the National Western and the Coliseum.
This testing makes it very clear which is a safer option between a shelter or a tent. As should have been clear from the beginning of COVID, staying outside on the streets in your own tent is safer from COVID than staying in a mass group shelter inside. If we are really concerned with the spread of COVID and the health of our whole communities, our City would be supporting tent encampments rather than mass congregate shelters.
CDC guidance on encampments further supports the fact of greater safety at encampments confirmed in the local testing. Yet the City continues to refuse to follow the CDC guidance of stopping sweeps and providing bathrooms and handwashing stations.
Now, with results showing COVID is not spreading among encampments, while it is spreading among the shelters, the City cannot pretend that sweeps are needed for the health and safety of encampments. To claim a sweep from a tent to a shelter is to help the health and safety of people living outside is even more clearly a blatant lie.
It’s time for Housing NOT Sweeps.