Arizona Homeless Health Organization Reports High COVID-19 Caseload Among Patients

Published: Thursday, September 9, 2021 - 3:57pm
Circle the City
Circle the City medical staff provide care to Joyce, a patient who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Phoenix Inn, a hotel being used for patients needing a place to quarantine.

Arizona is still reporting thousands of new COVID-19 infections each day and Arizonans experiencing homelessness are among those becoming ill. 

“We’re seeing outbreaks in different congregate sites around the city, and that has raised our concerns," said Marty Hames, spokesperson for the Circle the City, a nonprofit that provides a variety of health care services to Arizonans facing homelessness.

Circle the City has been providing COVID-19 vaccines to its patients since January. Hames said the majority of recent infections have been among unvaccinated individuals.

"Homelessness is extraordinarily challenging in and of itself," Hames said. "A COVID diagnosis makes life extraordinarily difficult if you're living on the street."

Throughout the pandemic, Circle the City has been providing medical care to COVID-positive homeless individuals quarantining in a hotel leased by Maricopa County. The nonprofit reports a rise in demand for those quarantine beds in recent weeks. Hames said nearly 60 beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.  

As demand for services has spiked, Circle the City has also struggled with medical staff shortages.  

“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve listed for about 50 open positions, and for a relatively small nonprofit organization like us, that’s a big impact,” Hames said. "Our main priority at this point, along with providing the best care we can to our patients, is to get those positions filled as quickly as possible." 

→ Homeless Health Care Organization Is Among Arizona's First COVID-19 Vaccinators