DENVER (CBS4)– Protesters gathered outside Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s news conference on coronavirus on Wednesday morning. They chanted “Stop the sweeps” so loudly that people inside the meeting could barely hear the update.
Hancock discussed Denver’s reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, along with other issues like increasing testing, continuing to wear face masks and concerns with those experiencing homelessness.
The mayor’s update quickly turned into a discussion about another public health issue – homeless encampments.
Those protesting believe the City of Denver isn’t doing enough to address the health issues concerning those who have set up tent cities across Denver, claiming that making them move actually makes their risk for coronavirus worse.
The encampment at 13th and Clarkson has become quite large in recent weeks and residents of that part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood are concerned about safety and health risks associated with the camp at Morey Middle School.
Hancock said the homeless sweeps happen because the City can’t allow people to live in those unsafe conditions which is a public health threat in addition to coronavirus.
As of Wednesday, there are 6,700 coronavirus cases in Denver with 30,893 in Colorado.
“The reality is we cannot allow an unsafe condition to exist for the people who are camping there or for the neighbors around the campsite so we are working to look at various options and strategies to look at how we can abate that,” said Hancock.
“I’m very confident that the CDC would not encourage us to allow some of the conditions I’ve seen in encampments. There a number of encampments we don’t act upon because they don’t present the same public health threat that we see in others,” said Bob McDonald with Denver Public Health and Environment.
Hancock met with the protesters after the news conference to discuss their concerns on a face-to-face basis.