State Health & Emergency Officials Release Guidance to Prepare and Protect Homeless Californians and Service Providers from COVID-19


SACRAMENTO – Today California officials issued guidance to protect individuals experiencing homelessness, and the volunteers and employees of homeless assistance providers who serve this vulnerable population from the spread of COVID-19.

“We know that individuals experiencing homelessness are at greater risk of having an untreated and often serious health condition. This vulnerable population also has a higher risk of developing severe illness due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “It is important that we act now to protect this population and the compassionate people who serve them.”

“We are working closely with homeless assistance providers, including Continuums of Care, city and county governments, and service providers to protect against COVID-19,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro-Ramírez. “The state of California is committed to preparing and protecting all Californians, including our most vulnerable.”

City and county officials and their partners should prepare now to protect individuals experiencing homelessness and the people who serve them from COVID-19. This includes:

  • Establishing ongoing communication with local public health departments and connecting to community-wide planning.
  • Urging providers to equip themselves with prevention supplies, such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers, tissues, trash baskets, disposable facemasks (to be used only by sick individuals in their organizations), and mobile hand-washing stations.
  • Identifying spaces where individuals experiencing mild symptoms can isolate.
  • Identifying clients who could be at high risk for complications due to COVID-19 and taking steps to reduce their risk of getting sick.

The guidance for Homeless Assistance Providers is available here.

California continues to issue guidance on preparing and protecting California from COVID-19. Consolidated guidance is available here.

For more information on the progress of the return of individuals from the Grand Princess cruise ship, see this update from ASPR and CalOES.

For more information on COVID-19 and California’s response visit the California Department of Public Health’s website.

COVID-19 in California by the Numbers (as of 8 a.m. Pacific Time):
3 – Deaths

177– Positive cases (this does not include passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship currently docked in Oakland)

Of all the confirmed positive cases:

  • Age 0 – 17: 3 cases
  • Age 18 – 64: 104 cases
  • Age 65+: 67 cases
  • Unknown: 3 cases

24 – Cases of positive tests related to federal repatriation flights

153– Cases not related to repatriation flights

  • 55 – Travel-related
  • 40 – Person to person
  • 32 – Community transmission
  • 26 – Under investigation

11,000+ – Number of people self-monitoring who returned to the U.S. through SFO or LAX
49 – Number of local health jurisdictions involved in self-monitoring
19 – Labs with test kits, 18 of which are already testing
How Can People Protect Themselves:
Every person has a role to play. So much of protecting yourself and your family comes down to common sense: 

  • Washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover a cough or sneeze with your sleeve, or disposable tissue. Wash your hands afterward.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
  • Following guidance from public health officials.

All Community Guidance released from CDPH:
The California Department of Public Health has consolidated state guidance on how to prepare and protect Californians from COVID-19 in a single location. This includes guidance for:

  • Health care facilities, including long-term care facilities
  • Community care facilities, including assisted living facilities and child care
  • Schools and institutions of higher education
  • Event organizers
  • First responders, including paramedics and EMTs
  • Employers, health care workers and workers in general industry
  • Health care plans 
  • Home cleaning with COVID-19 positive individuals
  • Guidance for Using Disinfectants at Schools and Child Cares 
  • Laboratories
  • Health care facilities from Cal/OSHA
  • Homelessness Providers

What to Do if You Think You’re Sick:
Call ahead: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.
California’s Response to COVID-19:
We have been actively and extensively planning with our local public health and health care delivery systems. Here are some of the things we are already doing:  

  • As in any public health event, the California Department of Public Health’s Medical and Health Coordination Center has been activated and is coordinating public health response efforts across the state.
  • California continues to prepare and respond in coordination with federal and local partners, hospitals and physicians.
  • Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already underway across multiple state agencies and departments, and help the state prepare for broader spread of COVID-19.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom requested the Legislature make up to $20 million available for state government to respond to the spread of COVID-19.
  • California activated the State Operations Center to its highest level to coordinate response efforts across the state.
  • 24 million more Californians are now eligible for free medically necessary COVID-19 testing.
  • California made available some of its emergency planning reserves of 21 million N95 filtering face piece masks for use in certain health care settings to ease shortages of personal protective equipment.
  • The Public Health Department is providing information, guidance documents, and technical support to local health departments, health care facilities, providers, schools, universities, colleges, and childcare facilities across California
  • The California Employment Development Department (EDD) is encouraging individuals who are unable to work due to exposure to COVID-19 to file a Disability Insurance claim.
  • EDD is also encouraging employers who are experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the Coronavirus impact on the economy to apply for an Unemployment Insurance work sharing program.
  • California continues to work in partnership with the federal government to aid in the safe return of 962 Californians from the Grand Princess cruise ship. This mission is centered around protecting the health of the passengers, and ensuring that when the passengers disembark, the public health of the United States, the State of California, and partner communities is protected.
  • The Public Health Department is coordinating with federal authorities and local health departments that have implemented screening, monitoring and, in some cases quarantine of returning travelers. 
  • In coordination with the CDC, state and local health departments, we are actively responding to cases of COVID-19.
  • The Public Health Department is supporting hospitals and local public health laboratories in the collection of specimens and testing for COVID-19. 

The California Department of Public Health’s state laboratory in Richmond and 18 other public health department laboratories now have tests for the virus that causes COVID-19. Eighteen of them are currently conducting tests, with the others coming online soon.


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