Since aerial spraying was announced, members of the Denton County Homeless Coalition have stepped up efforts to notify those who are homeless about when and where mosquito spraying is occurring.
City signs posted directly in neighborhoods prior to ground spraying can’t reach those unable to read.
Millie Bell, executive director of Our Daily Bread, said that about half of the clients they serve breakfast or lunch each day either can’t read or write, or both.
The agency collects information on the nearly 1,000 people they actively serve, whether for breakfast and lunch, or for a special referral.
The agency has counted about 485 of their clientele as homeless.
Even though Denton has opted out of aerial spraying, not all the people served at Our Daily Bread camp inside the city limits, she said.
“We have quite a few transients,” Bell said.
Before each meal, kitchen staff members have been announcing details of planned spraying, whether it is by air or truck, Bell said.
She’s hopeful word will spread among those who aren’t there to hear the announcement.
“They have quite a communication network,” Bell said.
For example, if word gets out that the kitchen is making spaghetti for lunch, they’ll have twice the usual number of people coming to eat.
“It’s their favorite meal,” Bell said.
In this year’s West Nile season, Texas has been particularly hard hit, with the most cases continuing to be diagnosed in Dallas County, but the highest rate of diagnosed cases per capita is in Denton County. As of Friday afternoon, the Denton County Health Department had confirmed 145 cases of West Nile virus, two of which were fatal. In all, 43 infected with the virus developed the more serious West Nile neuro-invasive disease.
In addition to stepping up communication efforts, The Salvation Army stands ready to provide sleeping accommodations for more than the Denton shelter’s normal capacity of 44 people, according to Maj. Ward Matthews.
“If someone walks in and says they are afraid of the aerial spray or the ground spray, to us, that is as valid a reason as any,” Matthews said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.