Rampant Asymptomatic COVID-19 in a Homeless Shelter

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I have previously written about “the forgotten” and why Coronavirus infection in these populations affects us all.  I am talking about people in prisons, people in nursing homes and people in homeless shelters.  Outbreaks of COVID-19 in these populations do not remain contained. They spill into the general population by way of prison wardens, nursing home staff and the homeless populate not only the shelters but also the subways and parks.  A similar situation is the captive population on a cruise ship.

To give an idea of the scope of the problem, in the US, 567 715 people were homeless on a single night in January 2019.

In March, 2020, the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) tested all comers from a single large homeless shelter in Boston (excluding those that were already known to have the virus):

Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Residents of a Large Homeless Shelter in Boston

JAMA. Published online April 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6887
147/408 (36.0%) had a positive PCR test, and 87.8% of them were asymptomatic.
The authors correctly conclude that PCR testing of all asymptomatic shelter residents should be performed when an individual with COVID-19 is identified in the same shelter.
The same reasoning applies to outbreaks in prisons, in nursing homes and on cruise ships!


About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
This entry was posted in Coronavirus, Health Care, Poverty, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rampant Asymptomatic COVID-19 in a Homeless Shelter

  1. Pingback: Pandemic: How did Trump’s America Screw up? | Resist and Replace

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