The Humanities Truck works with diverse populations to collect, create, interpret, and curate stories that can return to the communities they originated from and circulate throughout the DMV. As we confront a global pandemic, we aim to record social responses to COVID-19 by asking how individuals and communities across the metropolitan region are responding to the crisis by building and sustaining community networks. This platform serves as a space to share, document, and reflect upon our stories.
In partnership with the Humanities Truck Project, Eric Sheptock will offer regular reports and reflections on the impact that Covid-19 is having on those experiencing homelessness in Washington, DC.
Medical staff is in front of CCNV checking anyone who wants to be checked for Coronavirus. Dr. Regal (the woman pictured alone) asked me if I had any symptoms — cough, fever vfc or, shortness of breath. When I said “No”, she gave me some hand sanitizer and sent me on my way.
I learned that they will come by several times per week at different times of day. I asked that they consider posting a schedule of times and dates on the wall; as, some people have jobs. I said that, if I were working today, I might not have gotten back until 5 or 6 PM. They said they’ll try to post a schedule.
A homeless man told me that there are pictures in the CCNV lobby near security of the CCNV residents with COVID-19. I saw 6 very poor pictures where the photo was printed on black and white 8.5 x 11 paper. They’re impossible to make out. Why bother??? When I asked a security guard if those were the positive cases, she said “Yes” and that there was at least 1 positive case on each of CCNV’s 3 floors. It’s spreading; but, healthcare providers are on the ball.
Hydration has become a problem at CCNV lately. Some time ago, brand new water fountains were installed. They were operational for 2 days. Then they were turned off, supposedly so that other parts of the building’s plumbing could be worked on. They were never turned back on. Even so, people are able to go to each floor’s kitchen for water until 11 PM. Before COVID-19, people could also buy drinks from the vending machines. Since the outbreak, neither the drink nor the snack machines are being filled. Add to this the fact that nearby stores which are usually open until midnight — Wslgreens, CVS, Walmart — are closing as early as 8:30 PM. The options that people have for hydration and food are severely limited now. CCNV residents who lack money can only get water from the bathroom from 11 PM to 6 AM; and, those with money must buy food and drink offsite, store it near their bed and hope that none gets stolen. I’m not sure that using a water fountain is the best idea right now. The vending machines were a much safer option. Given the fact that people use the bathroom sinks to brush their teeth, you’d assume they wouldn’t mind drinking from them too, though I find it a bit uncanny. But, there’s nothing those without money can do about a midnight snack.