MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the populations most at-risk for COVID-19 may need more attention.

People who are homeless say they don’t know where to turn. As national data shows, COVID-19 deaths are expected to be significantly higher for people who are experiencing homelessness.

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While most are spending extra time at home, around 19,600 Minnesotans don’t have an official home to spend time in and for them, life is getting even more complicated.

Sean Dewalt is one of the people experiencing homelessness.

“There is nowhere for us to go during the day to even get protection or anything, to get out of the cold, the rain,” Dewalt said.

Like 84% of the unsheltered population, Dewalt has health conditions. He’s waiting to get one of the coveted hotel rooms made available by Hennepin County anything to be in isolation,

“The shelters are the worst place because when one person gets infected, that is gonna run through the shelter like you won’t believe and so many people will lose their lives,” Dewalt said.

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Amidst the homeless population in Hennepin County, there are 12 suspected cases, two have been confirmed.

John Tribbett is with St. Stephen’s. He work to protect the homeless population.

“People are afraid,” Tribbett said. “They are being told to stay-in-place and quarantine but they are not being options to do that.”

Tribbett says there needs to be a consolidated government plan. He believes there needs to be more single space options like hotels or dorm rooms, more washing stations and if need be, encampments with proper spacing because desperate times call for desperate measures.

“We have to provide the best set of protections for those people because those are the people who have higher levels of underlying health conditions and will likely become some of the people to become victim to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Tribbett said.

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The State Emergency Operations Center announced today approval from FEMA for a plan to protect more people experiencing homelessness.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield