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For Immediate Release:
July 24, 2020
Media Contact:
Lisa Mozloom

Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust continues robust COVID-19 testing and tracing program

With a total of five operational Isolation and Quarantine sites, Trust strategies hold infection rate at 3%

July 24, 2020 - Miami, FL - With more than 3,400 tests conducted, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is continuing to ramp up COVID-19 testing, retesting and tracing for persons experiencing homelessness.   In the coming days, an estimated 700 sheltered individuals and staff at three emergency shelter locations will be tested and/or retested for the virus using nasal swabs provided to the Homeless Trust through the Florida Department of Emergency Management (DEM) with test results coordinated in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade (DOH). 

Most recently, the State of Florida’s mobile COVID-19 testing unit tested more than 400 persons in a single day providing the Continuum of Care (CoC) rapid results, which enabled the CoC to effectively move infected households to isolation sites, and quarantine others suspected of exposure.  Tests administered across the continuum by the Homeless Trust and its partners since April 1st have resulted in a 3% infection rate.  Enhanced screening procedures and other proactive protective measures which commenced prior to COVID-19 testing continues at both congregate living sites and with unsheltered individuals. 

The Trust currently works with multiple mobile testing teams, including the Lazarus Project, a specialized outreach team targeting unsheltered persons with severe mental illness who are among the most service resistant.   City of Miami Fire Rescue, Camillus Health Concern and Community Health of South Florida have also partnered with the Homeless Trust to ensure continued testing of unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness.

The Trust has also established additional quarantine and isolation (Q&I) locations for impacted populations with five (5) locations now operational.  Priority populations include those who are COVID-19 positive, including homeless persons pending discharge from area hospitals, individuals in close proximity with those who test positive and other persons at increased risk for severe illness, including seniors 65+. To date, more than 846 individuals have been received at Q&I sites.

“The Homeless Trust and our providers who provide critical first responder services to our homeless, have been working around the clock to protect sheltered and unsheltered persons with complex needs,” said Ronald L. Book, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.  “We are not without challenges, but our CoC has acted nimbly, adapted well in an everchanging environment, and through incredible partnerships, continues to demonstrate a sound approach to working with an extremely vulnerable population.”

The below timeline lists the some of the actions taken by the Homeless Trust to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among Miami-Dade County’s homeless population. 


February 27 – CoC reaches out to DOH in Miami-Dade to discuss steps to protect persons experiencing homelessness; guidance provided to CoC providers (no documented COVID-19 cases in Florida); regular CoC information sharing communications regarding COVID-19 begins
March 1 –First documented case of COVID-19 in Florida (Alachua County)
March 2 – Initial screening begins for symptomatic clients; additional protective measures reiterated and reinforced
March 2 – Homeless Trust begins deploying tri-lingual educational materials to both sheltered and unsheltered populations
March 9 – Florida declares a State of Emergency
March 9 – Homeless Trust coordinates to begin providing  hand sanitizer and masks/face coverings to unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness together with tri-lingual informational materials on protective measures/social distancing
March 12 – Miami-Dade County declares a State of Emergency
March 13 – Miami-Dade Homeless Trust quarantines its first household as a precautionary measure
March 15 – Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade coordinates with the Homeless Trust to dedicate a team to coordinate testing, results and contact tracing for homeless households
March 18 -- FEMA’s Assistant Administrator for Recovery states in memo that, “non-congregate sheltering may be necessary in this Public Health Emergency to save lives, to protect property and public health, and to ensure public safety...”. 
March 21 – Homeless Trust secures first  dedicated  Q&I location partnering with all female, African-American owned hotel in Historic Overtown
March 26 – Homeless Trust Executive Committee meets and authorizes up to $1M from reserves for COVID-19 response 
March 27 – First hospital discharge to Q&I site 
April 1 – Second dedicated Q&I site established focused largely on persons 65+ and at high risk for severe illness
April 1 – First known homeless client tests positive
April 9 – First 100 swabs dedicated to persons experiencing homelessness provided by DEM through DOH, following ongoing petitioning from the Chairman of the Homeless Trust (prior to this, Trust relied on Jackson Health Systems and City of Miami Homebound program for COVID-19 testing)
April 10 – Third Q&I site established
April 14 – Lazarus Project (specialized outreach) begins mobile COVID-19 testing
April 15 – Camillus Health Concern establishes fixed testing site exclusively for homeless outside Camillus House (has since moved to mobile testing strategy)
April 17 – Second swab pick-up from DOH (400)-
April 17 – First known homeless client death from COVID-19
April 22 – Telehealth program begins with Florida International University (FIU) College of Medicine
May 1 –Third swab test kits received from State of Florida DEM/DOH (500)
May 4 – Third mobile testing team established
May 21 – First jail discharge to Q&I location
May 20 – Fourth  test kit installment received from DEM/DOH (500)
May 21 – Fourth mobile testing team established
June 11 –  Fifth test kits installment received through DEM (500)
June 25 – Sixth test kit installment received through DEM (500)
July 15 – State mobile bus tested 429 sheltered, unsheltered and staff
July 16 – Fourth Q&I site established
July 16 – Seventh test kit installment (1,000)
July 17 – Fifth Q&I site established
July 21 – Eighth test kit installment (1,000)