Testing detects two cases at shelter
(April 26) As part of testing efforts to detect anyone who may have COVID-19 but not show symptoms, two individuals were identified Saturday, April 25, as positive for the virus at the emergency homeless shelter within the San Diego Convention Center. These are the only positive tests to date after more than 660 have been administered to shelter residents, staff and volunteers.
Following pre-established procedures to isolate and treat anyone who tests positive, one individual was notified and taken to a local hotel managed by the County of San Diego.
Despite attempts to counsel and coordinate transportation to a hotel room to isolate, the second individual left the facility. A Public Health Order for isolation has been issued for this individual. Homeless Outreach Teams and shelter providers will isolate this person as soon as they are located.
Public health investigators are working with shelter staff to determine if there are any significant exposures at the convention center that call for retesting or evaluation. Persons in isolation will be kept off-site until it is deemed safe for them to return to the shelter or be released to a permanent housing solution based on CDC guidelines. The County of San Diego provides private accommodation with care and support services for those self-isolating in the hotel rooms.
Testing at the shelter began on April 16 as a preemptive move to identify asymptomatic residents, staff or volunteers who may be infected with the virus but show little to no symptoms. The decision to test residents is another preventive step the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, San Diego Housing Commission, and Regional Task Force on the Homeless are taking to provide a safe environment for this highly vulnerable population.
Operation Shelter to Home launched on April 1 by moving homeless individuals already in shelters into the San Diego Convention Center to allow for proper physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because the effects of the pandemic were creating staffing challenges at the City’s various shelters, the program centralized staff in one place to ensure personnel could be efficient even with limited numbers.