Amid heightened public concern over the potential spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, some of the most vulnerable members of society are worried about their safety.
Carlton Adderley, 34, has been living on the streets for years, but news of the virus shook him into the realization that he needed a safe haven.
Adderley is currently staying in a dormitory at Teen Challenge Bahamas, on Marshall Road.
“I knew [the virus] would eventually get here through our tourism sector,” he said.
“So, I said, you know what, before I get exposed to this disease, knowing what type of environment I was in, I need to find a safe haven.”
Adderley said he is concerned that many people in circumstances like his may not even know what’s going on with the virus. He said he only knew because he likes to read the newspapers.
“My living environment was around drug addicts,” he said.
“And you can contract diseases easier like that. I’ve been from base house to base house.
“[W]herever my head rested, that’s where I slept, like parks. Sometimes, I’d go by one of my drug-using friends to sleep.”
Adderley said many of the people he was around shared joints and homemade pipes.
“[They have] nothing to sanitize themselves, nothing to wash their hands, nothing to bathe their skin, no water, no soap, no disinfectant,” he said.
So far, there are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a nationwide partial lockdown and curfew.
Last night, Minnis extended that order to a 24-hour national curfew.
Teen Challenge Bahamas Director Eric Fox said he doesn’t believe the homeless are being adequately protected amid COVID-19 fears.
“It’s sad,” he said.
“When the prime minister was announcing the curfew, a reporter asked the attorney general about the people on the streets who are homeless, and people laughed and he said they need to find someplace to be.
“You know, this is real sad. Because by now, in this country, we should have had a shelter for people to go and get a hot meal and get a bath and have a bed to buckle down in times like this. I was a little hurt and disappointed.
“I know a lot of friends and persons on the streets and I wish I had a place where I could take them in.”
Fox said that while they are doing their best to offer help to those who need it, it hasn’t been easy.
He said ensuring social distancing is a bit of a challenge.
“We are trying our best to cohere and comply with the order that’s been issued by the prime minister,” he said.
“It’s a little hard for the social distancing because we have a dorm and we have bunks.
“We have nailed down the rehabilitation services, and we’ve cut down the movement in and out. However, we still carry on our daily activities. We do our mechanic work, our carpentry, our marine tech.
“We sterilize our house every day. Thanks to Blanco Bleach, we get a 55-gallon jug of bleach.
“Our program still runs. We still provide food. We do devotions. We clean the place. Our doors are open, but as it stands right now, we’re not able to take in any other persons.”
He added, “We’re running at the bare minimum. I just told our cook this morning that rather than us giving three meals a day, we’ll just do a late breakfast and an early dinner. So, we’ve gone from three meals today just to two.”