Puerta del Sol square in Madrid on Monday. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images

People experiencing homelessness don't have access to the recommended precautions to stave off the coronavirus.

The state of play: They often don't have access to places to wash their hands, many sleep outside in crowded encampments, and social distancing is next to impossible in crowded shelters.

  • The population living outside tends to be older and to have pre-existing health conditions.
  • If they do get sick, they're more likely to end up in intensive care, said Samantha Batko, a research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

Why it matters: "People sleeping outside in crowded and unclean situations could rapidly expand the spread of the disease," Batko said. "We have to rapidly expand shelter capacity."

What's happening: Half of the country's unsheltered homeless population lives in California, which is taking aggressive steps. Gov. Gavin Newsom is securing empty hotel and motel rooms for shelter.

  • San Francisco has rented RVs to isolate people who end up with the virus but don't need hospitalization. Along with Los Angeles, the city has placed sanitation stations at encampments.
  • In Washington state, King County purchased a former Econo Lodge in Kent to use as a quarantine site. But the decision came under fire when a homeless person waiting for results of a COVID-19 test left the premises and boarded a bus.
  • Other municipalities are considering leasing vacant buildings for temporary shelters, so people with symptoms can be isolated from others who have nowhere else to go. San Diego is working with local universities to use empty dorms for this purpose.
  • LA and others are handing out hygiene packs with hand sanitizer and soap.

The catch: Despite outreach efforts, homeless programs rely on funding, supplies and volunteers, all of which are in short supply.

Go deeper: Coronavirus updates

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Updated Jul 10, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

South Carolina restaurants and bars will have to close alcohol sales by 11 p.m., beginning Saturday, under an order issued Friday by Gov. Henry McMaster.

The big picture: The U.S. had another record single-day spike of 63,200 new coronavirus cases from Thursday. COVID-19 cases in South Carolina have increased, with 21,560 cases recorded in the last two weeks.

Updated Jun 25, 2020 - Health

Texas pauses its reopening as coronavirus cases surge

Customers sit outside on the patio at Eight Row Flint in Houston on May 22. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Texas is pausing its phased economic reopening in an effort to battle the state's surging coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Thursday.

The state of play: Abbott said the move "will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase," but allowed businesses — including restaurants and bars — already open under the state's guidelines to remain in operation.

Jun 25, 2020 - Health

CDC expands list of who's most at risk for the coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its warnings Thursday to include more demographic groups at risk for the coronavirus such as younger people who are obese and who have underlying health problems.

Why it matters: The shift reflects what states and hospitals have been seeing since the pandemic began, which is that young people can get seriously ill from COVID-19. Much of the directive was focused on those with preexisting conditions and individuals who are 65 or older.