A number of places, public and private, have taken laudable action as part of their response to the COVID-19 threat. What they have done is comforting, and helps to reduce the presence of workers and citizens in public places, along with the time they are in the open. The new standard for most sensible people – who are taking seriously this threat which has still not registered here significantly – is in and out and little by way of lingering in between.
This ought to be the norm for everyone, but it is not so. We say this because there is a small section of the population that is out there, who are unaccounted for, and which poses a viable threat that should not be neglected. It is the milling, circling, roving individuals and clusters of them that make up the population of addicts and homeless. They represent a possibly sharp threat as this society braces for a coronavirus storm, which it is hoped will take a different, fast moving, and quickly distancing course of travels. We do not want it to stay, no malingering. Just go!
While there are those hopes, the reality is that our little bands of homeless are not going anywhere. This is whether they congregate around the Post Office, markets, shopping places, or elsewhere.
First, they do not observe social distancing, and may even take offence at being so cautioned. Second, because of their physical condition(s), they may be vulnerable to whatever comes, since their immune systems are compromised, which makes them unable to counter what endangers.
The constant realities of addictions, poor nutrition, and exposure to the raw elements leave them severely exposed to COVID-19. They could be prime targets, who are easy to infest. They hold high probability of being unwitting carriers, which is the heart of the problem and concerns.
It is well known that the homeless and drug-riddled are not homebodies. They are roamers or fixed presences near many crowded places and close up. For those are where the opportunities to grab the attention and gain a little fleeting comfort are greater. Somebody in the shopping and spending crowds would have some spare change. This is what counts.
On the other hand, what counts for worried citizens at this time is taking every precaution to protect self, family, and immediate environment, as in the home.
Nobody wants to get anything or to carry anything. But with the strong chance and actual situation where a homeless and sick brother is almost up in the face, negates all the good intentions and sturdy efforts undertaken at the personal level.
Think of this: somebody coughs lightly outside of the home and just about everybody looks up in alarm, and watches, maybe even glares. Don’t bring that here. Keep whatever is had to self. Do the right thing: stay away from us and protect us. That works when dealing with rational and grounded fellow workers and others. It does not, however, work when confronted at close range by those looking for a helping hand, any kind of fix to ease their sharp needs.
As stated earlier, our less fortunate brethren are not in the healthiest of conditions. This makes them the ideal receptors, with many on the higher side of years, and those who are not that old have aged far beyond their actual years. None of this is helpful to the peace of mind of those going about their daily business and associated interactions on a hurried basis. There are sure to be fears over what could rise to the level of a stealth threat – one in the midst of the milieu – that holds the potential for some degree of spread.
Now the skeptics and humane amongst us may shrink from what the urgencies of the moment demand. Drastic times and circumstances necessitate and justify drastic steps. After all, and as is now proven beyond doubt, this is not the regular flu that surfaces occasionally. This is a very serious situation that calls for serious, immediate steps.
And the vital step required is to arrange to remove and re-house our homeless from in the pathways of daily life. This does not come easily, but the hour calls for it.
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