WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Dozens of homeless individuals and their families lined up outside Matthew’s Hope in Winter Garden Tuesday as part of recent new testing made available to the under-served part of the community.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the homeless population is at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“Because many people who are homeless are older adults or have underlying medical conditions they may also be at increased risk for severe illness than the general population,” the CDC’s website reads. “Health departments and healthcare facilities should be aware that people who are homeless are a particularly vulnerable group. If possible, identifying non-congregate settings where those at increased risk can stay may help protect them from COVID-19.”
On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 3,838 new COVID-19 cases. The new cases bring the state’s running total since March to 579,932 cases.
Mickey Clark was among those waiting to get tested at Matthew's Hope in Winder Garden.
“I’m out here because I’m a diabetic, so I’m a risk - High risk,” he said. “I took one about three weeks ago, it came back negative. I’ve been trying to stay away from people wearing my mask, putting my gloves on when I need to and I’ve been doing pretty good.”
Matthew's Hope began offering coronavirus testing a month ago. Scott Billue founded the faith-based homeless outreach ministry.
“The beauty of the last round is we’ve had zero COVID cases so far,” he said. “The truth to be known is the homeless population has actually done a better job at social distancing and using their PPE than their average person I’m seeing out on the street.”
News 6 followed this ministry back in March, when the pandemic first started and first shifted to fighting the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’re seeing a 63% increase over what we saw pre-COVID,” Billue said. “We’ve gone through over a million dollars worth of resources in just the last five months.
Billue added they have handed out around 15,000 medical masks so far, and plan to host another round of coronavirus testing in a couple of weeks.
To learn more about the initiative, click here.