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More homeless shelters opening in Northeast Ohio due to cold weather

With the pandemic still raging, shelters are also taking extra measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

CLEVELAND — As winter trickles in, the temperatures trickle down. It's the time of year when time spent outside is usually minimal.

"It's very cold, and it's going to get colder," Chris Knestrick, executive director for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, said.

But for some, there's no home to go to, and some don't have warm clothes. Across Northeast Ohio, shelters are opening more than usual.

"If you're living outside, this is very cold for folks," Knestrick explained. "We have locations opened up throughout the city that are providing seasonal shelters."

Knestrick estimates at least 150-200 people are homeless in the inner Cleveland area alone.

"We know there's a possibility that people could freeze to death outside," he lamented.

3News meteorologists say temperatures will be cold through Monday night, and will remain colder not just into the morning but for the foreseeable future.

"The libraries and stuff are currently shut down," Knestrick said. "It's a little bit concerning that people might not have the places they typically go to, to stay warm in this cold weather."

The dynamic of this winter is also still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as transmission of the virus remains steady. Knestrick says isolation rooms have been set up at shelters.

"We have places for people that are homeless and COVID positive to go," he stated.

Knestrick and the coalition acknowledge there are some that don't like shared living housing, but this winter — even with COVID-19 — staying indoors some place warm is the safest.

"We know in our community right now, there's really no place safe of COVID,” Knestrick said. “We also know that it's probably more dangerous to be sleeping out in the cold.”

The organization says its always looking for supplies such as winter boots, sleeping bags, hand warmers, and tents. For more information about shelters that are open or where you can drop off supplies, click here.

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