New York City’s homeless shelters have become “breeding grounds” for the coronavirus because of a lack of protective gear and sanitary procedures, claims the head of the union representing shelter security guards.
“I believe the shelters have become breeding grounds for the coronavirus,” Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237 told The Post.
“The security officers have been given no masks, no gloves, no nothing.”
He said some of the 58,000 homeless individuals who seek shelter are ill and have compromised immune systems.
Floyd said he decided to go public after hearing complaints from officers at the shelters. His members patrol 41 shelters.
For example, three clients at Pam’s Place, a shelter for women in Long Island City, were ill and coughing on Sunday, seeking medical attention.
Security officers accompanied them in the shelter’s lobby after calling EMS — without the protection of face masks.
“They’re coughing. They’re not wearing masks. We don’t have masks,” a security source at the shelter, who requested anonymity, said.
“We’re sitting ducks.”
A person who identified herself as the shelter’s director of social services declined comment and referred questions to the city Department of Homeless Services.
A DHS spokesman and City Hall had no immediate comment.
A DHS spokesman did refer the Post to a statement previously made by Homeless United Services, the umbrellas group that represents the city’s not-for-profit service providers regulated DHS.
“We are working in partnership with the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to design protocols that keep homeless New Yorkers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance is constantly being updated and refined as we learn more,” Homeless Services United executive director Catherine Trapani told City Limits.
“Service providers are working to identify anyone who may be experiencing symptoms and quickly and safely get them medically evaluated to ensure that no other persons are exposed.”
Floyd claimed shelter workers were under a gag order by the agency not to discuss to safety concerns. He said DHS are supposed to protective equipment.
“De Blasio was not prepared for this crisis,” he said.