homeless posessions
Example of homeless belongings. Photo via Pixabay

COVID-19 continues to circulate among the homeless population, Los Angeles County health officials said, noting that five homeless people died from the virus over the past week while adding preparations are underway for anticipated winter rise in shelter populations.

According to the county Department of Public Health, 101 new COVID cases among the homeless were confirmed in the past week, although the majority of them actually occurred previously but were only recently verified as involving homeless patients.

Since the start of the pandemic, 9,626 homeless people have tested positive for the virus in the county, and 255 have died, according to the county.

Public health officials said Wednesday they are working with homeless-shelter managers to ensure infection-control measures are in place, while encouraging staff and homeless residents at shelters to get vaccinated. The county noted that winter shelters across the region will be operating around the clock, likely leading to more crowding at such facilities.

“Given the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to circulate in communities, including among people experiencing homelessness, we continue working with shelters and interim housing to prepare for increased need for services,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Wednesday. “Sites providing support to people experiencing homelessness are reviewing infection control protocols, ensuring isolation and quarantine capacity and increasing efforts to vaccinate staff and guests, many who are eligible for boosters.”

The county on Wednesday reported 34 more COVID-19 deaths, although 18 of those fatalities actually occurred previously but were not immediately tallied due to a backlog attributed to a technical issue that caused an undercount on Tuesday. The new fatalities raised the overall death toll in the county to 26,796.

Another 1,497 COVID cases were reported Wednesday, giving the county a cumulative pandemic total of 1,506,305.

The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1.2% as of Wednesday.

According to state figures, there were 617 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, down from 620 on Tuesday, marking the fifth straight day of slight declines. Of the people hospitalized, 162 were in intensive care, the same number as Tuesday.

About 80% of eligible county residents aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 72% fully vaccinated. Among all 10.3 million residents in the county, including those not eligible for shots, 69% have received one dose, and 62% are fully vaccinated.

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