Life-threatening single digit temps in Metro Detroit problematic for shelters during COVID-19 pandemic

The brutal winter cold snap is sticking around Metro Detroit for the week with temperatures dropping to single digits every night this week. Shelters in Detroit have to get creative to offer a warm place to sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cold, arctic air moved into Southeast Michigan over the weekend and, while most everyone is taking shelter inside, it's not true for everyone.

Thomas Bender is a member of Metro Detroit’s homeless population and he's seeking refuge at one of the several shelters the City of Detroit has designated as a warming center. 

"It means a lot because I didn't have no place to go," said Bender.

He's far from alone.

Dr. Chad Audi with Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries said the number of people seeking shelter has increased over the past few days but they're still working to keep everyone safe.

"It has increased about 20%. The numbers have increased since the temperatures have dipped down," said Dr. Audi. "We’re putting carts in certain hallways and in the dining area so can continue to be socially distanced as much as we can."

Nurses from the city’s health department are also on-site to take temperatures. If someone appears to be infected they are taken to a different location for shelter.

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries is still helping people in need of shelter during this cold snap but they do have more protocols to keep everyone safe.

"We’ve seen people coming in sick, so we've had to immediately move them and taken them to the quarantine site," said Dr. Audi.

The shelter is disinfecting every two hours to help keep everyone safe while offering food and help.

"They will have a good meal and they will have a warm place to be and they will have counselors to work with them for long-term stability," said Dr. Audi.

They can't do it alone, however. Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries is in need of a hand to help others. 

"The most need right now, other than cash as always, is disinfectant materials and janitorial supplies," said Dr. Audi. "We can assure the public and the people who are in need that this place is safe."

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