Despite coronavirus pandemic, Alexandria doctor presses on in homeless aid mission

William Mazzella
Dr. William Mazzella has set up a nonprofit to help the homeless people of Alexandria, Virginia. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

There are many people whose missions don’t stop during a pandemic, and among them is an Alexandria, Virginia, doctor who treats the homeless in shelters and on the streets at night.

Demand for Dr. William Mazzella’s services has been up since WTOP first brought you his story in February. But now, his work is increasingly solitary.

“As far as street care, I don’t really feel comfortable having anyone else with me right now due to all the unknowns from coronavirus,” Mazzella said.

He’s using personal protective equipment, depending on its availability.

“Gloves have been in OK supply. Hand sanitizer is getting scarce and hard to get a hold of, and so are masks,” he said.

Shelter residents have become much more diligent about hand washing, keeping a distance from one another and not coughing into the air, Mazzella said.

He urged people to humanize the homeless, especially now.

“They’re socially distanced already,” Mazzella said.

Though financial support for his nonprofit, MedStreet, is appreciated, he said, members of the public can also help on their own, by creating their own bags of hand sanitizer, tissues and food to give out.

It sends the message: “‘Hand sanitizer’s hard to come by and here’s a little bit of it,'” Mazzella said. “Clearly, you care.”


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