What to Know for Your Organization
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance on how COVID-19 spreads and what symptoms look like, which is essential to prevention and safety. There are several ways that youth homelessness service providers can prepare and protect both staff and youth.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
For individuals, it is important to frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. To help stop the spread through common areas and shared surfaces, the use of certain cleaning agents is suggested to best kill the virus. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of disinfectants that can be used to safely sanitize various surfaces.
The CDC also offers recommendations for how to properly clean and disinfect public spaces that can assist in the development of your facility’s action plan.
Depending on the phase of reopening in your state, your organization should take appropriate precautions to keep your staff safe. No matter the stage, the pandemic remains without a vaccine or cure, so taking vigilant safety precautions is important. The suggestions will differ depending on the level of interaction and contact staff have with youth. Implementing appropriate distancing measures and providing any necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for staff in direct contact with youth will help to keep your team safe.
You can find information about the phases of reopening with more specific guidance either at The White House Opening Up America Again website, or by consulting your state government’s department of health website.
If information on testing is needed by youth or staff members, the CDC has the most current guidance on who should be tested and what test is most appropriate. To find testing locations near your facility, consult your state government’s department of health website.
What to Tell Youth
When talking to teenagers and young adults about COVID-19, there are countless questions that may come up. For general questions about the virus and its effects, we recommend referring to the CDC FAQs page. There are also several important general suggestions to share when talking with youth.
Emphasize the Importance of Hand Hygiene
Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. Using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is also a good way to disinfect when soap and water are not available.
Highlight the Importance of Lowering Risk
It is also important to explain why suggestions like maintaining safe distancing, avoiding crowds, or using face coverings can be helpful. These measures are about helping to minimize risk, where possible. The CDC offers a range of ways to lower COVID-19 risk and guidance on face coverings as well.
Screening for Symptoms
If you are working with anyone who is worried they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or has questions about how to identify symptoms, CDC provides a resource on screening for COVID-19 at homeless shelters.
Where to Find More Information
While there are countless resources out there right now, we recommend the following government pages to find the best, updated, and most relevant information:
- The CDC Homelessness and COVID-19 FAQs Page
- The CDC Checklist for Homeless Service Providers During Community Re-opening
- The CDC Resources for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Page
- The CDC Resources for People Experiencing Homelessness Page
- USICH Supporting Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness during the COVID-19 Outbreak: Questions to Consider
- SAMHSA’s COVID-19 Resource Center