FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2020
Vice President of Communications and Public Policy
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Testing Reveals High Prevalence of COVID Positive Among Asymptotic People Experiencing Homelessness
DENVER, CO -- On Monday, May 4, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless healthcare staff conducted a pilot study at St. Francis Center where 52 individuals utilizing the day shelter volunteered to be tested for COVID-19. Fourteen of the 52 resulted in a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, or 26.9% of total people tested. Using these findings as the benchmark for COVID-19 cases within the homeless population, 538 people of the 2000 utilizing Denver shelters could have COVID-19. This estimate does not account for individuals who are unsheltered, making the number of people experiencing homelessness in Denver with COVID-19 much higher than estimated.
Of seven symptomatic people in the study group who had not previously sought testing, only two tested positive. Symptomatic individuals awaiting testing results were removed from the shelter system and provided a hotel room rented for Activated Respite by Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. After receiving test results, all individuals testing positive for COVID-19 will remain housed in Activated Respite hotel rooms until they have recovered. While in Activated Respite, these individuals receive medical care, case management, and other supportive services.
We know that asymptomatic transmission is happening in many settings and this testing pilot aimed to identify what the potential rates might be in shelter settings.
People experiencing homelessness are not more likely to be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 but because they are often still living in congregate settings, the opportunity for transmission is much higher. Additionally, because many people experiencing homelessness are at high-risk for hospitalization if they contract COVID-19, containing the spread of the virus is imperative.
Currently the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has tested 634 people experiencing homelessness at the Stout Street Health Center, National Western Complex, and Denver Coliseum and at least 206 have tested positive.
About the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
The mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is to work collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for people experiencing and at-risk of homelessness homeless throughout Colorado. The Coalition advocates for and provides a continuum of housing and a variety of services to improve the health, well-being and stability of those it serves. Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the organization has earned state and national recognition for its integrated healthcare, housing, and service programs. The Coalition’s comprehensive approach addresses the causes of homelessness, as well as the consequences, offering critical assistance to over 20,000 individuals and families each year. Learn more at www.coloradocoalition.org.