If You Are Experiencing Homelessness and Have COVID-19 Symptoms
Any person experiencing homelessness with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should alert their service providers (such as case managers, shelter staff, and other care providers). These staff will help the individual understand how to isolate themselves and identify options for medical care as needed.
Many of the recommendations to prevent COVID-19 may be difficult if you are experiencing homelessness. Although it may not be possible to avoid certain crowded locations (such as shelters), you should:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. People who are fully vaccinated should review CDC’s Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
- In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings.
- People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
- If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
- If you are fully vaccinated, see When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available, and cover coughs and sneezes.
How To Get Tested
For local testing sites and information, call 2-1-1.
You can also access COVID-19 testing through a healthcare provider. Local public health and healthcare facilities need to determine the best location for this testing in coordination with walk-in clinics and street medicine clinics. If you are unsure where to receive a test for COVID-19, ask shelter staff or your healthcare provider.
Is There a Preferred Vaccine for People Experiencing Homelessness?
No. There is no preferred vaccine for people experiencing homelessness. There are currently three different COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use and recommended in the United States. The available vaccines have differences in how they were developed, the ingredients they contain, and whether they require one or two doses. More information on each of the vaccines can be found here.
Many people will only have one vaccine option available to them. All of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. For the earliest protection from COVID-19, the best vaccine is the first one available.
Anyone Sick with COVID-19 Should Stay Isolated
If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should stay in a place where you can isolate from other people to prevent spreading the infection. Local health departments, housing authorities, homeless service systems, and healthcare facilities should identify locations to isolate people with known or suspected COVID-19 until you meet the criteria to end isolation.
If no on-site isolation or alternative site isolation options are available, homeless service providers should plan for how they can help people isolate themselves while efforts are underway to provide additional support. If you need help identifying a place to stay isolated from other people, talk with shelter staff about what options you have.