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Isolation, Quarantine Impossible in >20 Percent of U.S. Homes

Odds of occupying units being unsuitable for isolation, quarantine increased for racial/ethnic minorities

child poverty

FRIDAY, July 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- More than 20 percent of U.S. homes lack sufficient space or plumbing facilities to comply with recommendations to isolate or quarantine to prevent COVID-19 transmission, according to a research letter published online July 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ashwini R. Sehgal, M.D., from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues examined the feasibility of separate rooms for isolation and quarantine for housing units in the United States. Data on residential dwelling units and occupants were obtained from the 2017 American Housing Survey. The proportion of dwellings in which optimal isolation or quarantine was impossible due to unavailability of separate bedrooms and bathrooms was estimated.

The researchers found that in 25.29 million dwellings, isolation or quarantine was impossible, because they lacked sufficient bedrooms, bathrooms, or both; this accounted for 20.8 percent of all residential units. This included about 30 percent of the 88.2 million units that housed more than one occupant. A total of about 81 million persons lived in units that were unsuitable for isolation or quarantine. The odds of occupying units unsuitable for isolation or quarantine were twofold to threefold higher for Native American and Hispanic persons relative to non-Hispanic White persons and 1.7-fold higher for Black and Asian persons.

"Policymakers should consider offering (but not requiring) persons needing isolation or quarantine the option of staying at no cost in underutilized hotels, under medical supervision," the authors write.

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