Local agencies across the United States have identified public health isolation sites for individuals with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who are not able to isolate in residence.
We describe logistics of establishing and operating isolation and noncongregate hotels for COVID-19 mitigation and use the isolation hotel as an opportunity to understand COVID-19 symptom evolution among people experiencing homelessness (PEH).
Multiple agencies in Atlanta, Georgia, established an isolation hotel for PEH with COVID-19 and noncongregate hotel for PEH without COVID-19 but at risk of severe illness. PEH were referred to the isolation hotel through proactive, community-based testing and hospital-based testing. Daily symptoms were recorded prospectively. Disposition location was recorded for all clients.
During April 10 to September 1, 2020, 181 isolation hotel clients (77 community referrals; 104 hospital referrals) were admitted a median 3 days after testing. Overall, 32% of community referrals and 7% of hospital referrals became symptomatic after testing positive; 83% of isolation hotel clients reported symptoms at some point; 93% completed isolation. Among 302 noncongregate hotel clients, median stay was 18 weeks; 61% were discharged to permanent housing or had a permanent housing discharge plan.
Overall, a high proportion of PEH completed isolation at the hotel, suggesting a high level of acceptability. Many PEH with COVID-19 diagnosed in the community developed symptoms after testing, indicating that proactive, community-based testing can facilitate early isolation. Noncongregate hotels can be a useful COVID-19 community mitigation strategy by bridging PEH at risk of severe illness to permanent housing.