West Central Minnesota

Continuum of Care

COVID-19 & Communicable Disease Information and Updates

State of MN Links

MN Interagency Council on Homelessness - COVID-19


MN Dept. of Health Congregate Settings 

Healthcare for Homeless Communicable Disease Handbook

Infectious Disease Toolkit for CoCs

MN Dept. of Health Infection Control 

MN Dept. of Health posters and videos

Infectious disease and homelessness

Lack of housing contributes to poor health outcomes. People experiencing unsheltered homelessness (those sleeping outside or in places not meant for human habitation) and those in congregate settings may be at higher risk for infection and could impact community spread.  Rapid linkage to permanent housing should continue to be a priority to protect person become homeless and the community!

Reaching and protecting people experiencing homelessness during a health outbreak requires coordination across several local sectors. To prevent negative outcomes from lack of services, our region needs to continue activities that protect people experiencing homelessness, including supporting continuity of homeless services, healthcare, behavioral health services, food pantries, and linkages to permanent housing.  Communication and collaboration is essential. 

 Homeless shelters and other facilities should  refer to the Interim Guidance for Homeless Shelters. Community and faith-based organizations can refer to the Interim Guidance for Community and Faith-based Organizations for other information related to their staff and organizations.

  1. The State Dept of Health has downloadable posters and flyers to be used at your agencies and social media toolkits for awareness. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/materials/index.html

Join the MN Provider call for shelters, outreach, and drop-in centers

Each Wednesday at 1 PM Cathy tenBroeke will be hosting a call for homeless providers. To register please go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/509183141089613325 


Important things for you to know: 

  • This is entirely voluntary. If you do not want to participate, you do not have to.   
  • The information we are collecting is aggregate/summary level only- we are not asking for any individual information.  
  • We are doing this in partnership with the CDC, who has asked Minnesota to start monitoring for symptoms in shelters. Again, your partnership is entirely voluntary.  
  • For participating HMIS providers, you may receive information in the near future about using HMIS (Homeless Management Information System) for COVID-19 screening, tracking and public health alerts.  
  • Because HMIS is a client-level database that does not include staff or regular volunteers, and not all shelter providers are in HMIS or will choose to use this functionality, we do not believe these two efforts overlap..  
  • SASS data is entered via survey (REDCap). You do not need a username or password, and can use the same survey link every time you enter information.   

***  This tool is not intended to replace testing. Shelter guests, staff, and outreach workers are all included as prioritized COVID-19 testing populations. If you are concerned that someone might have COVID-19 based on their symptoms, please contact their healthcare provider or call the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414 for guidance on testing.  

To Complete the SASS Survey Click the Link Below:
Symptom Alert System for Shelters (SASS) 

CDC Guidance for Homeless services outreach staff When COVID-19 is spreading in your community, assign outreach staff who are at higher risk for severe illness to other duties. Advise outreach staff who will be continuing outreach activities on how to protect themselves and their clients from COVID-19 in the course of their normal duties. Instruct staff to:
  • Greet clients from a distance of 6 feet and explain that you are taking additional precautions to protect yourself and the client from COVID-19.
  • Screen clients for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 by asking them if they have a fever, new or worsening cough, or shortness of breath
    • If the client has a cough, immediately provide them with a surgical mask to wear.
    • If urgent medical attention is necessary, use standard outreach protocols to facilitate access to healthcare.
  • Continue conversations and provision of information while maintaining 6 feet of distance.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) on a regular basis.
  • Wear gloves if you need to handle client belongings. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer (>60% alcohol) before and after wearing gloves.
  • If at any point you do not feel that you are able to protect yourself or your client from the spread of COVID-19, discontinue the interaction and notify your supervisor. Examples include if the client declines to wear a mask or if you are unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet.
  • Provide all clients with hygiene products, when available.
  • Street medicine and healthcare worker outreach staff should review and follow recommendations for healthcare workers.
  • Review stress and coping resources for yourselves and your clients during this time.