Polk County to shelter COVID-positive homeless at fairgrounds

    Polk County has set up housing at the Oman Family Youth Inn at the Iowa State Fairgrounds for homeless people who tested positive for COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair)

    Polk County and partners are setting up a shelter at the Oman Family Youth Inn at the Iowa State Fairgrounds for homeless people who test positive for COVID-19.

    “When we are sick, we want to be comforted in a place where you feel safe and can get well. For people experiencing homeless, they do not have a home,” Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department director, said in a statement. “Everyone needs care and compassion during this time.”

    The Youth Inn residents will be provided meals, beds, laundry services, medical care and additional resources. They will be spread out according to social distancing guidelines from health officials working to ease the spread of COVID-19.

    The building lot has been fenced to keep others out.

    “The Youth Inn fence may look scary to fairground neighbors and the community. Please rest assured, this is to make sure we are reducing the spread of COVID-19 and respect the dignity of those who are staying at the shelter,” Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith said in a statement. “This is such a difficult time for everyone that we need compassion for everyone including our most vulnerable populations.”

    For more information about the COVID-19 in Polk County, please Polk County Health Department’s website.

    Perry Beeman
    Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.