A shortage of disinfecting wipes as a result of panic buying during the COVID-19 outbreak is impairing efforts to prevent the virus from spreading to homeless people in Langley.
“We’re running out of wipes,” Snow told the Langley Advance Times.
“These people [hoarders] are just being selfish,” Snow fumed.
“If they have so much, they should call us and donate.”
Snow said the non-profit has improvised a less-than-ideal solution by handing out baby wipes together with disinfectants during their regular distribution.
“That’s the only thing we can do,” Snow commented.
“It’s sad out there.”
Snow is now wearing a mask and gloves to distribute food and other supplies from a Kimz Angels truck to homeless people at various locations throughout Langley on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“My mask is protecting them from me, not me from them,” Snow explained.
Living on the streets in harsh weather and unsanitary conditions means many are already ailing, Snow elaborated.
“They normally cough and sneeze anyway, because they’re not healthy,” Snow said.
She is also educating the homeless about the spread of the virus.
“They don’t watch TV, so they don’t know how bad it is,” Snow related.
While there has, to date, been no reports of homeless people contacting the COVID-19 virus, Snow said they are an especially vulnerable population who don’t have the option of staying home to self-isolate from the virus.
“Where do they go?” Snow asked.
She would like to see an effort made by senior government to get homeless off the streets for the duration of the outbreak, both to protect them and the general population.
There are a handful of places the homeless can wash their hands, including overnight at the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope homeless shelter, and some churches, public buildings, and outreach centres.
But there’s no drop in centre with services like showers and laundry, something Snow been pushing for in Langley for some time.
At the Salvation Army Gateway of Hope shelter in Langley, sit-down hot meals have been discontinued.
An announcement posted online said “due to recent developments and precautionary measures as a result of COVID-19, Gateway of Hope will be offering bag lunches for community meals until further notice. Thank you for your understanding and for keeping us and the people we serve in your prayers.”
Salvation Army B.C. division commander Lt. Colonel Jamie Braundsaid they “currently do not have any cases that we know of in our facilities; however, we do work with two very vulnerable populations: the homeless and the elderly. These two groups are more susceptible to catching the virus because of several factors, so we are being extra vigilant, while still serving with respect and dignity.”