To protect all of our most vulnerable citizens during this challenging time, the County of Orange is working with a diverse group of stakeholders including cities, nonprofits and faith-based organizations to prevent COVID-19 illnesses and outbreaks in persons experiencing homelessness. The information below provides guidance to assist our community partners in their COVID-19 response.
Recommendations for Homeless Shelters
Develop a COVID-19 Prevention Plan
All homeless shelters in Orange County should have a plan to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 into their facilities. This plan should include measures to assure adequate physical distancing, educate staff and clients about COVID-19, and respond to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. A summary of critical measures can be found in HCA’s Shelter COVID-19 Checklist.
Conduct Routine Laboratory Screening
Congregate living-style shelters (as opposed to dormitory or hotel-style shelters) should implement routine laboratory screening of staff and residents. This screening should be performed at least every four weeks, whether or not COVID-19 cases have recently been identified in the shelter, as long as COVID-19 continues to be present in Orange County. For specific recommendations, see Homeless Shelter COVID-19 Screening Guidance.
Facilities should have policies regarding resident activities outside the shelter which balance the rights, quality of life, and health of shelter residents with the need to limit the risk for COVID-19 introduction. See HCA’s guidance regarding resident movement while COVID is circulating in the community.
Vaccinate Shelter Staff and Residents
Vaccination is the most effective way to protect persons staying at and working in shelter sites. Contact OCHCA at 714-567-6246 to arrange vaccination assistance.
Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Homeless Shelter Residents and Staff (Updated April 29, 2021)
In accordance with updated CDC guidance, homeless shelter residents and staff who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine after close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case as long as they remain asymptomatic. They do have to be tested at 7 and 14 days after close contact to a confirmed case.
Fully vaccinated shelter residents and staff do not have to be tested as part of routine laboratory screening of facilities when no COVID-19 exposure has been identified.
- OCHCA Public Health
- Shelter Guidance and Resources (4/9/20)
- Homeless Shelter - FAQ (4/9/20)
- CDCD Medical Director – Guidance Memo (3/24/20)
- National Health Care for the Homeless Council. COVID-19 Information for Homeless Shelters and Homeless Service Providers.
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH)
- CDC Interim Guidance for Homeless Shelters
- HUD Infectious Disease Toolkit for CoCs
- Preventing and Managing the Spread of Infectious Disease for People Experiencing Homelessness
- Preventing and Managing the Spread of Infectious Disease within Shelters
- Preventing and Managing the Spread of Infectious Disease within Encampments