Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Quarantine and isolation facility: A State Health Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Appathurai Balamurugan, MD, DrPH, William Greenfield, MD, Michael Knox, DrPH, Greg Brown, NRP


Background: State Health Departments are at the helm of addressing the myriad needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those of vulnerable populations who do not have a place to self-isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread. An estimated 5,000 Arkansas residents face homelessness and are at increased risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Additionally, those living in multigenerational families face similar challenges.

Objective: We share our experiences and lessons learned in planning, executing, and maintaining a quarantine and isolation facility for vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Setting and patients: A 29-bed quarantine and isolation facility was instituted and maintained by the Arkansas Department of Health to meet the quarantine and isolation needs of vulnerable populations.

Outcomes and conclusions: As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, need for a facility to meet quarantine and isolation requirements of vulnerable population is not just a critical mitigation strategy but is an ethical imperative.


COVID-19, pandemic, quarantine, public health practice, emergency preparedness

Full Text:



Salisbury-Afshar EM, Rich JD, Adashi EY: Vulnerable populations: Weathering the pandemic storm. Am J Prev Med. 2020; 58(6): 892-894. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.04.002.

Mosites E, Parker EM, Clarke Ke, et al.: Assessment of SARSCoV-2 infection prevalence in homeless shelters—Four US cities March 27–April 15, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020; 69(17): 521-522.

Baggett T, Keyes H, Sporn N, et al.: Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in residents of a large homeless shelter in Boston. JAMA. 2020; 323: 2191.

National Health Care for the Homeless Council: COVID-19 & the HCH community: Needed actions from public health and emergency response systems. 2020. Available at Accessed June 11, 2020.

National Health Care for the Homeless Council: COVID-19 technical assistance resources. Available at Accessed June 11, 2020.

Hadden K, Partlow D, Liverett H, et al.: Addressing homelessness and COVID-19 quarantine: A streamlined assessment and referral process. NEJM Catal. 2020. DOI: 10.1056/CAT.20.0245.

Henry M, Watt R, Mahathey A, et al.: The 2019 annual homeless assessment report (AHAR) to congress. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2020: 1-104. Available at Accessed June 11, 2020.

Balamurugan A: Operation compassion: COVID-19 pandemic & homelessness in Arkansas. J Arkansas Med Soc. 2021; 117(7): 152-154.



  • There are currently no refbacks.