First Coronavirus Cases Among L.A. Homeless — and Staffer at Temporary Shelter

Homeless Rec Center (Mario Tama / Getty)
Mario Tama / Getty

Los Angeles has confirmed its first cases of coronavirus among the homeless population — and a staffer who works at a temporary shelter has also tested positive for the virus.

Mayor Eric Garcetti revealed earlier this week that a homeless person at Dockweiler State Beach had tested positive for coronavirus.

Since then, additional cases have appeared in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles, where many homeless people live on the streets.

Local Fox affiliate KTTV-11 reported Monday:

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that two homeless individuals in the county tested positive for COVID-19, as well as one staff member working at an interim homeless housing shelter.

All three of those individuals are now self-isolating, Ferrer said.

Additionally, multiple officers with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division, which patrols Skid Row, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that one employee of the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row, near the downtown area, had also tested positive, and that other employees have been quarantined on an isolated floor of the building.

There has been fear for weeks that coronavirus would spread quickly among the homeless population, who could be more vulnerable to the worst effects of the illness because of pre-existing illnesses and immune deficiencies.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has been moving homeless people to recreation centers in residential areas, arguing that it is safer for homeless people to be indoors.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines oppose relocating homeless people to large “congregate” spaces indoors, saying that social distancing outdoors, plus improved access to sanitation and other services, is preferable during the pandemic.

In addition, many residents worry about the temporary shelters becoming vectors for infecting the local population.

Garcetti is hoping to use hotel rooms in the city to quarantine homeless people confirmed or suspected to have the virus.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson told Breitbart News Daily earlier this week that he saw outdoor tent cities on state and federal land as one possible option for tackling homelessness during the pandemic.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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