WINDSOR, ONT. -- Of 172 COVID-19 tests administered to people experiencing homelessness in Windsor, 70 per cent of the results have come back, all have been negative.

Last Thursday and Friday, the Windsor Essex County Heath Unit partnered with the City of Windsor, the Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre, leaders of the local emergency shelters, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Essex Windsor EMS to provide health screenings, medical assessments and testing of individuals experiencing homelessness.

“While testing for COVID-19 only represents one point in time, mass testing among our homeless population was important to give us a sense of the current impact of COVID-19 within this vulnerable group,” Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health said in a City of Windsor news release.

“What this has told us is that our collective efforts to ensure the health and safety of individuals experiencing homelessness are working well.”

The provincial government announced April 10 that proactive testing would begin for some priority groups, including those in long-term care homes and homeless shelters. 

Shelter providers have been able to “creatively” meet the challenge of providing service to those experiencing homelessness while adhering to public health guidelines to help stop the spread of the virus, the release stated.

In response to COVID-19 the city has also invested in:

  • Two Isolation and Recovery Centres (IRC) to provide individuals experiencing homelessness who present with symptoms the opportunity to self-isolate pending a negative test result or recovery from illness
  • Supporting these IRCs with staff from the City of Windsor, in partnership with the Windsor Essex County Health Unit, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Health Care, Windsor Essex Community Health Centre, Welcome Centre Shelter for Women & Families and Feeding Windsor
  • Establishing a medical team to provide supports to individuals who need to self-isolate

“The number of negative results returned is a true testament to the swift response, added supports and dedicated efforts of City administration, the health unit and especially the shelter providers and their staff,” said Jelena Payne, commissioner of Community Development and Health Services.

“Where other sectors are beginning to stabilize, sectors that provide direct basic supports such as food and shelter are continuing their around-the-clock efforts to help keep people safe.”