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Cold vs. COVID-19: A dilemma for Corpus Christi's homeless

Cold vs. COVID-19: a dilemma for homeless
Posted at 7:43 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 23:50:17-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A man who only wanted to be called by his first name, Ronald, says he has been sleeping on the streets of Corpus Christi since arriving here a month and a half ago.

“I came here, because I thought it would be warm," Ronald said. "It's rough. It's not fun."

After several not fun weeks, Ronald decided to spend Monday night in the Salvation Army shelter.

But with only 10 to 12 beds available there on a first-come, first-served basis, it's a good thing he didn't drag his feet.

“(I) got lucky," he said. "(I) just walked in right when they were fixing to lock the doors down.”

The Salvation Army reserves those 10 to 12 beds on extremely cold nights for who people looking to escape the dangerous conditions.

Workers there call them quarantine beds, because those who occupy them are kept separate from the shelters less-temporary residents who occupy beds in other rooms.

It's the shelter's attempt to keep the place COVID-19-free -- and so far leaders say it's working.

“If somebody is not exhibiting symptoms, we are trusting in good faith that they don’t have (the novel coronavirus)," Salvation Army of the Coastal Bend Commanding Officer Cpt. Patrick Gesner said. "If they wear the mask, and we continue to spray down things (with disinfectant) like we’re supposed to, so far it has worked.”

A different set-up at another Corpus Christi shelter has different coronavirus rules in place there.

A leader at Good Samaritan, where lots of beds sit in large dormitory-style rooms, told KRIS 6 News that a person must prove that they've tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of check-in time to stay there.

That leader says 130 people are staying in the shelter right now -- a smaller number than on dangerously cold evenings in the past.

Our request for an interview for further comment on this matter was not returned.

Back at the Salvation Army, Ronald says he's looking forward to something that he can't take for granted after a night on the cold streets.

“Just waking up tomorrow I guess,” he said.