PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With Oregon’s first case of coronavirus confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention come questions about how to protect those who are most vulnerable, including the homeless.
The City of Portland and Multnomah County officials have been working on connecting people to addiction, mental health and job services and the coronavirus presents yet another obstacle.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler hosted his third Community Conversation on Homelessness Tuesday at the University of Portland. Hundreds of people attended to voice their concerns.
“Of course people are concerned about the homeless population because you are starting with the population where people already are fairly sick,” Wheeler said. “We have a lot of chronically homeless people who have potentially mental health issues or addiction issues or disabilities.”
The mayor encouraged the public to “prepare, don’t panic.” Multnomah County officials met over the weekend to formulate a plan.
“Protecting very vulnerable people who are at great risk of the rest of the community getting them sick,” said county spokesperson Denis Theriault. “That means helping our shelter providers working through some operation planning, helping our outreach workers get things in the hands of folks — good information and materials.”
Theriault said the county is concerned about “every part of the population” but knows the people in shelters are particularly at risk.
The county hasn’t yet released a concrete plan but one is expected in the coming days.
“We’ve been working on a set of guidance plans and recommendations for house shelters,” Theriault said. “We don’t have those yet, we are still working to refine those.”
The next Community Conversation on Homelessness will take place Saturday, March 7 at 9 a.m. at the Multnomah Arts Center Gymnasium.
Follow KOIN 6 for the latest news and weather