Multnomah County sees first cases of coronavirus in homeless population
Two homeless people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Multnomah County, bringing the virus to one of the most vulnerable populations in Oregon.
The county public health department confirmed the cases Tuesday, but did not provide details about when the results were reported. There have been 276 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Multnomah County so far.
Salem reported Oregon's first case of coronavirus in a homeless person on March 26, according to the Salem Reporter. Across the state, homeless people make up less than 1% of all coronavirus cases, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
The housing status of coronavirus patients is important because officials worry that people who live in harsh conditions could be more likely to die from the virus. People with little to no income and no place to cook are also more likely to be in large gathering spaces to get food and other services.
Multnomah County Public Health declined to say where people were living when diagnosed, but officials have also worried that the virus could move through homeless shelters quickly.
Multnomah County has opened nearly 400 beds in community centers and the Oregon Convention Center to spread out residents and allow social distancing in shelters.
This Oregonian/OregonLive story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.
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