DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Following Dallas County’s emergency declaration, its central library in downtown closed in the effort to stop infection and spread of the coronavirus.
But the closure to the public didn’t stop mass gatherings at the front door of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library.
Dozens of homeless men, women and children turned the library main entrance into an sidewalk encampment.
“I’ve been here two weeks with my wife,” William Lane said Tuesday morning, while crawling from a tent that faces Dallas City Hall. Lane said more than 100 people were known to use the site, despite a “social distancing” order issued by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
To curb viral spread of the virus that’s killed 64 people in Dallas County, “Safer at Home” orders were approved.
Nonetheless, portable toilets were brought to the Central Library entrance, and daytime loiterers and squatters waited for people by bring food to those now living here.
“This is a transitory population, and people get on the buses, trains. They don’t have masks, you know,” said JB, a homeless man who worried the crowding at the library site would invariably become a COVID-19 cluster zone, with the potential to spread the virus.
Last Friday, Dallas Life homeless center, just south of Dallas City Hall, was closed, after 41 people tested positive for the virus.
More than 100 people are now in quarantine in area hotel and motel rooms. And the City of Dallas operates an overnight shelter inside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
But by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dallas Homeless Solutions staffers, along with Dallas Police were moving homeless camps from the library entrance.
There was no explanation regarding why the camp was allowed to be established for weeks. The individuals and groups will have access to dayside services at the Convention Center.