(NAEH) Statement on Revised CDC Testing Protocols

Best Practices A practical newsletter for people ending homelessness.

Statement on Revised CDC Testing Protocols 

The recent coronavirus outbreak in shelters in Anchorage, Alaska underscores how vulnerable people experiencing homelessness are to COVID-19. People in congregate settings are particularly susceptible to spread because of their proximity to others who may have the disease. 

However, the CDC has recently changed its guidance on testing people who have been exposed to the virus (those who have spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of someone who had the virus – a regular occurrence in shelters), indicating that they do not need to be tested unless they have symptoms. 

According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC), central to efforts to keep homeless people safe "…is the ability to identify, track and control the virus through testing and contact tracing activities." They conclude that the changes to CDC guidance "…go against public health protocols and undermine the hard work that communities have been doing." 

Further, according to NHCHC, "…weakening testing protocols for those who are asymptomatic—but known to have had contact to persons with COVID-19—will have disastrous consequences both individually to those experiencing homelessness and to community shelter systems."

The CDC has not provided data or research to back up the recommended change. 

The Alliance urges that, given the vulnerability, generally poor health, and close quarters of people experiencing homelessness, and considering the science behind widespread testing (including of asymptomatic people), communities continue to ramp up their testing programs for people experiencing homelessness and include those who are asymptomatic.  

Revised Link for This Week's Webinar

Researching an End to Homelessness: Election Year Policy Ideas
The Grand Challenge to End Homelessness: A Broad View of the Challenges and Solutions

Tomorrow, September 10
2:00pm ET

Please note that there is a revised link for Thursday's webinar, "The Grand Challenge to End Homelessness: A Broad View of the Challenges and Solutions."

An association of social work researchers recently published Social Work's Grand Challenge to End Homelessness: Policy Proposals for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. This collection of essays tackles a broad range of topics—housing strategies, youth, older adults, racial equity, social capital, and income.

Panelists on this webinar will discuss the collected ideas and emphasize considerations about racial justice that will help guide the rest of the series.


  • Ben Henwood, University of Southern California
  • Amanda Andere, Funders Together to End Homelessness
  • Deborah Padgett, New York University, National Alliance to End Homelessness Research Council (Moderator)