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Douglas County targets COVID-19 among homeless with ARPA funds

The executive committee recommended spending $10,000 to shelter homeless people who test positive for COVID-19 to curb the spread of disease.

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City Council Chambers, Superior, Wisconsin. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Douglas County is taking aim at the spread of COVID-19.

The executive committee approved allocating $10,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money Tuesday, Dec. 7, to shelter homeless individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

The money would allow for safe and adequate shelter during the period when COVID-positive individuals are contagious.

COVID-19 hasn’t been as rampant among the homeless as some might think, but county officials want to be prepared when it occurs, said Anna Carlson, director of health and human services.

Carlson said the county has a community partner that provides the shelter, and the money will help pay for the service.

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“Sheltering is a vital human service, and this would have a significant impact on keeping our homeless population safe and healthy,” Carlson said. “Assuredly, this would also decrease the risk of potential spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout other members of our community.”

In November, 626 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Douglas County, slightly more than half the number of people who tested positive during the height of the pandemic in November 2020, Carlson said. She said the recent trend is among family groups, with a higher incidence among teenagers. She said overall, only seven people have been hospitalized over the last three weeks, and all but one of those patients was unvaccinated.

“As a community, we have been fortunate,” Carlson said. “We have a lot of community partners helping. We want to assure we have some funding for this as we go into 2022.”

The Douglas County Board will consider the recommendation at its Thursday, Dec. 16 meeting.

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