Projecting COVID-19 isolation bed requirements for people experiencing homelessness.


As COVID-19 spreads across the United States, people experiencing homelessness (PEH) are among the most vulnerable to the virus. To mitigate transmission, municipal governments are procuring isolation facilities for PEH to utilize following possible exposure to the virus. Here we describe the framework for anticipating isolation bed demand in PEH communities that we developed to support public health planning in Austin, Texas during March 2020. Using a mathematical model of COVID-19 transmission, we projected that, under no social distancing orders, a maximum of 299 (95% Confidence Interval: 223, 321) PEH may require isolation rooms in the same week. Based on these analyses, Austin Public Health finalized a lease agreement for 205 isolation rooms on March 27th 2020. As of October 7th 2020, a maximum of 130 rooms have been used on a single day, and a total of 602 PEH have used the facility. As a general rule of thumb, we expect the peak proportion of the PEH population that will require isolation to be roughly triple the projected peak daily incidence in the city. This framework can guide the provisioning of COVID-19 isolation and post-acute care facilities for high risk communities throughout the United States.

MIDAS Network Members

Tanvi Ingle

Undergraduate Research Assistant
University of Texas at Austin

Xutong Wang

Graduate research assistant
University of Texas at Austin