The City of St. Louis, through its Department of Health, today issued orders to vacate the illegal tent encampments located along Market and Chestnut Streets downtown.
This action is happening for the purpose of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the City, including most especially the individuals inhabiting the encampments and their visitors.
As we have all become so painfully aware, COVID-19 is a highly contagious and too often deadly disease. COVID-19 thrives and spreads when people are in close proximity with one another. That is why cities, states, and countries all over the world have instituted restrictions to promote and facilitate social distancing.
The communal living situation and constant gathering that is easily observed at the downtown encampments is the exact opposite of social distancing. The limited hand washing opportunities, lack of the ability to shower or wash clothing, substance misuse, and the spilling of food and drink at the encampments create a high risk for the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in the community.
Over the past several weeks, the City has worked diligently to expand its capacity for emergency shelter with more than 200 additional beds. It has also conducted routine outreach and provided medical support and has successfully placed more than 40 unhoused individuals into shelter and housing.
As of today, there are now sufficient shelter openings for the 50 or so individuals who remain living in the encampments downtown. For their health and safety, and for the health and safety of the broader community, the City will continue to have safe and secure shelter available for these individuals.
The City is pleased that, in addition to shelter, it and its community health partners will be able to offer these individuals an initial medical screening and further case management assistance, with referrals to medical and behavioral health providers as indicated.
Office of the Mayor
Department of Health
Department of Human Services