First COVID-19 Case Among Sheltered Homeless is Reported
(April 1, 2020) -- The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is reporting its first case of COVID-19 among Miami-Dade’s sheltered population. The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade confirmed the positive test result today. The individual is in isolation and receiving medical care and support. Work is ongoing to isolate persons who came in contact with the individual and determine, in an abundance of caution, which additional individuals may require isolation and/or quarantine. Two other individuals in supporting housing have also tested positive and continue to isolate at home.
Shelters continue to screen individuals for COVID-19 signs and symptoms, taking temperatures and referring individuals for testing in line with CDC guidance. The Homeless Trust is committed to providing accommodations to isolate unsheltered persons while tests results are pending or in the event of a positive test result. Outplaced individuals continue to receive comprehensive care and support in secure locations, with food, case management and medical/behavioral health supports as needed. Outreach teams also continue to refer clients to shelter following enhanced screenings.
“We won’t rest through this crisis,” said Ronald L. Book, chair of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “The people we work with are the most vulnerable in our county, state, and nation, many of whom are over the age of 65. Our dedicated teams of providers have been working 24/7 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our homeless population. We will continue to serve the least, the last, the lost and the forgotten throughout the pandemic.”
Efforts to educate Miami-Dade’s sheltered and unsheltered populations about COVID-19 have been underway since the beginning of March. Among the action steps:
- Hygiene, safety and food kits, and informational materials are provided to unsheltered homeless persons along with educational information.
- Temperature checks are conducted on the streets by outreach personnel. Social distancing of 12 feet is highly encouraged, particularly at hotspots where homeless gather.
- Homeless outreach personnel are equipped with gloves, hand sanitizer, wipes, trash bags and other protective supplies. Assessment and referrals continue.
- Homeless intake areas are regularly cleaned and sanitized, including furniture, counters and door handles. Trilingual prevention signage posted.
- Outreach teams are taking temperatures of unsheltered homeless persons to pre-identify those with symptoms.
- Trilingual information on protective measures and symptoms are posted throughout shelter facilities.
- High-risk clients are pre-identified, including seniors and those with underlying health conditions.
- Increased surface area cleaning is done at all facilities, with particular attention to elevators, doorknobs, push bars and common areas.
- Increased access to hand sanitizers and/or wipes is being provided throughout shelter facilities
- Staff has been educated on symptom screening and protocols for testing referrals.
- Indoor feeding sites and shower facilities for unsheltered persons remain operational.
- Contract execution and reimbursement to providers continues.