36% of Residents at Large Boston Homeless Shelter Test Positive for Covid-19 — Only 1% Had a Fever

A new study reports on 408 Covid-19 tests and assessments carried out at a homeless shelter in Boston in early April. The testing was prompted after an increasing number of cases were identified at the shelter. 
(Prior to undergoing the peer-review process, the results were initially published on 15 April 2019).
The study’s participants were adults who stayed at the shelter on the 2nd and 3rd of April 2020. A total of 22 residents who had already been diagnosed with Covid-19 prior to the study were excluded from the sample.
Each resident first underwent symptom-based assessment before being tested. The collected samples were sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health State Public Health Laboratory for SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
People walking past a homeless man (you can only see his feet)
Over 567,000 Americans were homeless on a single night in January 2019. (Image by Paolo Trabattoni, Pixabay)
The average age of the participants was 52 years, almost three quarters of them were men, 33% were African American, and 19% were Hispanic or Latino.
Only 1.0% of participants had a fever, 8% reported having a cough, less than 1% reported shortness of breath, and 6% reported other symptoms. Overall, 361 individuals (88.5%) didn’t report any symptoms.
Yet, a total of 147 participants (36%) tested positive for Covid-19, nearly 88% of whom were asymptomatic. Only 7.5% had reported a cough and less than 1% had a fever.
People offloading food at a shelter.
Approximately 1.4 million Americans access emergency shelter or transitional housing each year. (Image by Roland Balik)
“The majority of individuals with newly identified infections had no symptoms and no fever at the time of diagnosis, suggesting that symptom screening in homeless shelters may not adequately capture the extent of disease transmission in this high-risk setting,” the researchers concluded.
Adding that their results support “testing of asymptomatic shelter residents if a symptomatic individual with COVID-19 is identified in the same shelter.”

Quarter of Homeless Residents Across 19 Shelters Contracted COVID-19

After testing residents of 19 homeless shelters in Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Boston, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 25% had contracted the coronavirus, The Hill reported.
The CDC also tested employees working at the shelters. Out of 313 who were tested, 33 (11%) were found to have confirmed cases.
Face mask
“Homeless shelters are often crowded, making social distancing difficult. Many persons experiencing homelessness are older or have underlying medical conditions, placing them at higher risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness,” the researchers explained.
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