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Pinellas County secures Clearwater hotel to quarantine 50 homeless people

The Florida Department of Health will refer patients to the hotel.
Baycare healthcare workers and staff guide vehicles at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium site in Tampa
Baycare healthcare workers and staff guide vehicles at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium site in Tampa [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Mar. 31, 2020

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Pinellas County is finalizing an agreement to lease a stand-alone wing of a Clearwater hotel to quarantine 50 homeless people if they contract the coronavirus.

For patients to gain entry, each person must be referred by the Florida Department of Health, county administrator Barry Burton said Tuesday. The county will release details about the facility and costs once the agreement is completed, he said.

“We need a place to isolate them,” Burton said. “We’re also looking at alternative sites. We’re ramping it up.”

The county, Burton said, is preparing for an uptick in coronavirus cases. As of Monday, Pinellas had 129 confirmed cases and five deaths.

The homeless are considered at high risk for the coronavirus because they often have poor health. The pandemic is making it worse for them because park restrooms, libraries, coffee shops and gyms where they can wash and shelter are now closed.

This week, the city of Tampa established a tent city that will allow up to 100 homeless people to shelter in place.

[Tampa sets up tent city so homeless can shelter in place]

The city will pay Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg $120,000 to run a temporary homeless camp for the next 30 days. One hundred tents have been pitched and fenced-off on a site that will also include mobile shower trailers, a mobile laundromat and six portable toilets. Its residents will get three meals a day and, if needed, medical treatment.

Similarly, Hillsborough County inked leases with two hotels to house coronavirus patients, and county officials have identified the Yuengling Center as a suitable site to tend to 250 more patients if local hospitals become overloaded, county officials said Monday.

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