West Central Minnesota

Continuum of Care

COVID-19 Information and Updates

COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus. There is much to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features of the disease. Lack of housing contributes to poor health outcomes, and linkage to permanent housing should continue to be a priority. People experiencing unsheltered homelessness (those sleeping outside or in places not meant for human habitation) and those in congregate settings may be at higher risk for infection when there is community spread of COVID-19. 

Reaching and protecting people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak will require coordination across several local sectors. To prevent negative outcomes from lack of services, community leaders should continue activities that protect people experiencing homelessness, including supporting continuity of homeless services, healthcare, behavioral health services, food pantries, and linkages to permanent housing. Plans need to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders.

 Homeless shelters and other facilities should  refer to the Interim Guidance for Homeless Shelters. Community and faith-based organizations can refer to the Interim Guidance for Community and Faith-based Organizations for other information related to their staff and organizations.

MN Provider call for shelters, outreach and drop-in centers

Each Wednesday at 1 PM Cathy tenBroeke will be hosting a call for homeless providers. To register please go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/509183141089613325 


Important things for you to know: 

  • This is entirely voluntary. If you do not want to participate, you do not have to.   
  • The information we are collecting is aggregate/summary level only- we are not asking for any individual information.  
  • We are doing this in partnership with the CDC, who has asked Minnesota to start monitoring for symptoms in shelters. Again, your partnership is entirely voluntary.  
  • For participating HMIS providers, you may receive information in the near future about using HMIS (Homeless Management Information System) for COVID-19 screening, tracking and public health alerts.  
  • Because HMIS is a client-level database that does not include staff or regular volunteers, and not all shelter providers are in HMIS or will choose to use this functionality, we do not believe these two efforts overlap..  
  • SASS data is entered via survey (REDCap). You do not need a username or password, and can use the same survey link every time you enter information.   

***  This tool is not intended to replace testing. Shelter guests, staff, and outreach workers are all included as prioritized COVID-19 testing populations. If you are concerned that someone might have COVID-19 based on their symptoms, please contact their healthcare provider or call the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414 for guidance on testing.  

To Complete the SASS Survey Click the Link Below:
Symptom Alert System for Shelters (SASS) 

HUD call for Homeless Assistance Providers
Fridays at 2:30 PM EDT

HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) invites homeless assistance providers and their partners to participate in weekly Office Hours sessions to discuss COVID-19 planning and response on Fridays from 2:30 - 4:00 PM EDT. The next session will be this Friday, March 27, 2020. Presenters from the following federal agencies and their partners will be available for a live question and answer session:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • National Healthcare for the Homeless Council (HCH)
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Note: This Friday, March 27, 2020 will be the third Office Hours session offered by SNAPS related to COVID-19 Planning & Response. If you participated in the session on March 20, you are still encouraged to attend future Office Hours for the latest information and updates. View the March 20, 2020 Office Hours recording and slides on the HUD Exchange

  1. The State Dept of Health has downloadable posters and flyers to be used at your agencies and social media toolkits for awareness. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/materials/index.html
  2. Check out the CoC and MN Heading Home Alliance websites (https://headinghomealliance.com/covid-19-response/)  

Agency Updates 

  • LSNM offices will be closed to all walk-in clients beginning 3/17/2020, until further notice. Staff will continue to work, and applications are still being accepted. In addition, LSNM has cancelled all in-person meetings, trainings, Self-Help Clinics and events through April 15, 2020. Cancellations after this date will be evaluated in the days/weeks to come. Our intake line will continue to run as normal, and we will continue to offer our extended phone hours from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. If you or someone you know needs legal help, please call either our Moorhead office at 1-800-450-8585, our Bemidji office at 1-800-450-9201, or our Alexandria office at 1-800-450-2552. Clients may also apply on-line (or get a copy of our paper application on-line) at www.lsnmlaw.org
  • All Community Action offices are closed and will not be scheduling face-to-face client meetings, but are able to drop items off and still available via phone and email.
  • Churches United: These changes will take effect on Wednesday, March 18 and remain in effect until at least Monday, March 30.  Changes made since yesterday are highlighted in the email below.  Dorothy Day Food Pantry At the current time, there are no changes to the hours of service at the Dorothy Day Food Pantry.  For the present time, we will be suspending the consumer choice model of distribution.  Households needing to access food at the Dorothy Day Food Pantry will receive a pre-packed box.  Only one household, or representative of a household, will be allowed into the building at a time. Dorothy Day House Prospective guests will be asked screening questions prior to admission to the house.  Answering “yes” to any of the screening questions will delay intake until we have received guidance from Clay County Public Health for their recommendations. All Community Services (laundry and showers) are suspended at the Dorothy Day House.  A limited quantity of premade sack lunches will available to community members who present at the house. No volunteer groups, other than those preparing and serving meals, will be allowed at the house. Micah’s Mission Prospective guests will be asked screening questions prior to admission to the house.  Answering “yes” to any of the screening questions will delay intake until we have received guidance from Clay County Public Health for their recommendations. The Community Center at Micah’s Mission will be closed to the public.  A limited number of sack lunches will be available to community members who present at the shelter. No volunteer groups, other than those preparing and serving meals, will be allowed at Micah’s Mission. Those volunteers who do come to prepare and serve a meal will need to be admitted and will need to exit through the East/Kitchen door. Bright Sky Apartments Effective Tuesday, 3-17-2020 through at least 3-30-2020. Only essential staff and service providers will be allowed access to the building.  This includes overnight guests.  Tenants seeking an exception to this should be referred to Tori Formo, the Bright Sky Front Desk Supervisor. The Community Room will be closed to outside groups and meetings.  All shared community spaces, including the playroom, fireside room, exercise room, and activity room will also be closed. Dorothy Day West Food Pantry The Dorothy Day West Food Pantry is run entirely by volunteers with support from Dorothy Day Food Pantry and Churches United team members.  No changes at the present time to the hours or scope of service, however, volunteers are being encouraged to wear gloves and be especially vigilant about hand hygiene.  Households waiting in line to access service are encouraged to stand at a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from one another.
  • LMHC is open; using telephone and/or telehealth video to deliver all of our services.  We are also still accepting new clients at this time.  Our contact numbers are as follows: Moorhead:  218-233-7524, Fergus Falls:  218-736-6987, Detroit Lakes: 218-847-1676, Alexandria:  320-762-2400, Glenwood: 320-634-3446

CDC Guidance for Homeless services outreach staff When COVID-19 is spreading in your community, assign outreach staff who are at higher risk for severe illness to other duties. Advise outreach staff who will be continuing outreach activities on how to protect themselves and their clients from COVID-19 in the course of their normal duties. Instruct staff to:
  • Greet clients from a distance of 6 feet and explain that you are taking additional precautions to protect yourself and the client from COVID-19.
  • Screen clients for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 by asking them if they have a fever, new or worsening cough, or shortness of breath
    • If the client has a cough, immediately provide them with a surgical mask to wear.
    • If urgent medical attention is necessary, use standard outreach protocols to facilitate access to healthcare.
  • Continue conversations and provision of information while maintaining 6 feet of distance.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) on a regular basis.
  • Wear gloves if you need to handle client belongings. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer (>60% alcohol) before and after wearing gloves.
  • If at any point you do not feel that you are able to protect yourself or your client from the spread of COVID-19, discontinue the interaction and notify your supervisor. Examples include if the client declines to wear a mask or if you are unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet.
  • Provide all clients with hygiene products, when available.
  • Street medicine and healthcare worker outreach staff should review and follow recommendations for healthcare workers.
  • Review stress and coping resources for yourselves and your clients during this time.