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City of St. Louis issues order to vacate downtown tent encampments

"The communal living situation and constant gathering that is easily observed at the downtown encampments is the exact opposite of social distancing"
Credit: UPI
Fredrick L. Echols, M.D. Director of Health for the City of St. Louis, places his mask on his face after addressing reporters during a press conference at City Hall in St. Louis on Thursday, April 16, 2020. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

ST. LOUIS — The City of St. Louis issued an order for people to vacate illegal tent encampments in downtown St. Louis.

The encampments are located along Market and Chestnut Street.

Dr. Fredrick Echols, Director of the City of St. Louis Department of Health, issued the order to protect the "health, safety, and welfare of the people of the city, including most especially the individuals inhabiting the encampments and their visitors.”

In a press release, city officials talked about how easily COVID-19 spreads when people are in close proximity with one another.

“The communal living situation and constant gathering that is easily observed at the downtown encampments is the exact opposite of social distancing,” officials said in the release.

In the encampments, there is limited hand washing opportunities, lack of ability to shower or wash clothing, substance misuse and the spilling of food and drinks which creates a high risk for the spread of COVID-19, according to the release.

Over the past several weeks, the city has secured additional emergency shelter beds for people in the encampments along with other medical, social and behavioral health services.

As of Wednesday, there were shelter openings for the “50 or so individuals” who have been living in the downtown encampments.

“For their health and safety, and for the health and safety of the broader community, the city will continue to have safe and secure shelter available for these individuals,” officials said in the release.

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