Work is progressing on converting five additional recreation centers to emergency homeless shelters, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday.
The city’s homeless shelters are about 91% filled and are expected to reach “between 97% and 100% capacity” Sunday night, Garcetti said in his daily update on the city’s efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Garcetti has said he wants to use 42 recreation centers as emergency homeless shelters with 6,000 beds.
He also said the California National Guard helped on Sunday to prepare the Los Angeles Convention Center for use as a federal field hospital.
There have been 6,741 coronavirus tests conducted at the four city-operated drive-through testing sites, said Garcetti, who added that he expects the figure to triple by the end of the week. A fifth test site will be opened Monday, Garcetti said.
The testing at the city-operated sites is limited to Los Angeles residents subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period due to a confirmed COVID-19 exposure (with more than seven days of quarantine remaining) or have symptoms of the coronavirus and are 65 and older or have underlying chronic health conditions.
The city is working with the UPS package delivery service firm and the Everlywell health and wellness company to get coronavirus test kits to senior citizens and healthcare providers on Skid Row, Garcetti said.
The first homeless person who tested positive for the coronavirus turned up at Dockweiler State Beach and was taken to a medical facility for treatment, Garcetti said.
The U.S. Navy medical ship Mercy, which contains beds and which arrived Friday, has received its first three patients. Mercy will not be taking coronavirus patients, he said.
The 1,000-bed ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults, according to the Navy. It will not treat coronavirus patients.
The Mercy’s presence will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their intensive care units and ventilators for those patients.
The city’s logistics officer is working to get 1 million masks to first responders, Garcetti said.
Garcetti asked hotel and motel owners to provide rooms for Angelenos who are homeless or need to isolate with coronavirus. He said he believed those rooms would be paid for out of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The owners will be paid by the city for the rooms. We’re not asking them to donate the rooms,” Garcetti said. “We believe these expenses will be reimbursed by FEMA. It’s a reimbursable expense.”
Garcetti urged hotel and motel owners to go to Coronavirus.LACity.org/Rooms to complete a survey about the price of rooms owners are seeking and other information about their properties to enable them to be rented by Los Angeles County for housing for the homeless or those needing to isolate because of the coronavirus.
Garcetti also discussed a new report compiled by the FBI’s Houston office and distributed to local law enforcement agencies across the country finding that hate crimes against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump and other political leaders and media outlets and commentators have adopted the practice of calling the ailment the “China virus” or “Wuhan virus.” The term has fueled ill will and led some people to act out against Asian Americans.
Garcetti decried the attacks and emphasized the area’s law enforcement agencies will jail anyone who commits a hate crime.
“This virus does not discriminate based on race, ethnic origin, age or gender,” Garcetti said. “And there is no place for hate crimes in this city or in our community.”
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