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FEMA gives approval for temporary shelters for homeless Michigan residents impacted by COVID-19

Michigan will work to provide housing to homeless individuals who qualify

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LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that Michigan received approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide housing alternatives like hotels and motels for homeless individuals who need to quarantine or are at high-risk for severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19).

The state will work with local partners to provide housing to homeless individuals who:

  • Test positive for COVID-19 and need to be isolated but do not require hospitalization, including those discharged from hospitals.
  • Have been exposed to COVID-19 and are identified by a health care professional as needing quarantine but do not need hospitalization.
  • Need individual sheltering as a precautionary measure because they belong to a high-risk group such as people over age 65 or with certain underlying health conditions.

“We must do everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable populations during this ongoing public health crisis, and that includes protecting the health and safety of homeless Michiganders, no matter their circumstances,” Whitmer said. “These resources will help shield homeless Michiganders most susceptible to the virus.”

This announcement comes after a public health order from Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon. The order is required by FEMA to request approval for reimbursement. FEMA funding reimburses communities up to 75 percent of eligible program costs.

“Individuals who are homeless always face health risks, but the risk is so much greater because of COVID-19 — for them and for their communities,” Gordon said. “These hotel units can reduce infection rates and save lives.”

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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