Homeless people in Las Vegas have been forced to sleep in an empty car park, after shelters were closed down following someone testing positive for Covid-19.

A man at the Catholic Charities’ homeless shelter tested positive for the virus last week, forcing it to close amid outbreak concerns.

More than 500 people were left without somewhere to sleep and the authorities set up a new location in the car park of the Cashman Centre, the location for a Democratic presidential debate in 2008.

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Justin Jones, the Clark County Commissioner said in a statement that the city worked hard to make the new location possible.

“We’re proud to be working in collaboration with the city to meet the needs of our homeless population and appreciate the quick response of the participants in standing up the facility so soon,” he said.

Mr Jones confirmed that the new location will be available from 6pm to 8pm every day until the Catholic Charities’ homeless shelter is safe to be used again.

City spokesman David Riggleman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the new location was far from perfect, but makes it easier to practice social distancing among a large group.

“It was a logistical heavy lift; it really came together,” he said. “But the advantage here is that we can do better at social distancing by spreading the clients a lot farther apart.”

Images contradict these claims, showing that sleeping areas have been set up with no space in between for residents to practice social distancing.

One of the residents Johnny Wingo told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that “if you move your elbow, you going to bump someone. But we have mats to sleep on”, before adding: “There’s no tent; what if the rain comes?”

Despite the officials’ praise, the Daily Mail also reported that a majority of the homeless were having to sleep on bare concrete throughout the night.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, upwards of 143,532 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached at least 2,572.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a two-week ban on gatherings of more than 50 people as part of the battle to contain the spread of the contagion.

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