COVID-19 testing begins for homeless at Convention Center

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Family Health Centers of San Diego began offering free and voluntary COVID-19 tests Thursday for shelter residents at the San Diego Convention Center, a city statement said.

Offered in consultation with San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency and the City of San Diego, the tests will ideally help to identify and contain the virus earlier.

Family Health Centers of San Diego will provide the COVID-19 on-site testing. Medical professionals will educate clients on the tests, assist in self-administering them, deliver results to individuals and work with county public health officials to quickly and safely isolate anyone who tests positive. They will also work with the county on reporting positive and negative test results in a manner that protects residents’ privacy rights.

Processes are in place to immediately isolate and treat anyone who tests positive in order to protect the health of everyone in the convention center. Guests will be tested in groups of up to 150 per day beginning with shelter clients served by Veterans Village of San Diego Thursday.

“This preemptive testing will identify and contain the virus earlier if it is present, helping staff respond proactively and get people into treatment sooner,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

“Anyone experiencing homelessness who comes into the convention center will receive health monitoring and treatment that’s critical to both their personal wellbeing and the health of the broader community,” he said.

The decision to test residents is a proactive and 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 vulnerable population. There is no requirement from public health officials that shelter residents be tested if they are not presenting symptoms of the illness.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the Lucky Duck Foundation donated the tests.

“It is a testament to the commitment made by local government, service providers and nonprofits to work in a coordinated manner to slow the spread of coronavirus,” he said.

Fletcher confirmed another positive case Wednesday in a person experiencing homelessness, raising the number of cases in that population to 14.

Other preventive measures being taken at the shelter include:

  • Screening clients and staff at the convention center daily by temperature check and verbal questionnaire
  • Washing and sanitization of hands upon each reentry into the facility
  • Wearing a face covering is strongly recommended when moving about or leaving the convention center
  • Prevention and safety messages are announced every two hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. over the PA system
  • Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and the facility, frequently evaluating and isolating individuals exhibiting any symptoms of illness and transferring off-site if necessary

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