LA to dispatch 'street medical teams' to test homeless people for COVID-19

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Friday that the city will begin dispatching "street medical teams" to provide coronavirus testing at homeless encampments, starting Monday.

The medical teams will bring rapid-results field testing to Skid Row and other areas where homeless encampments are dense. A pop-up testing clinic will also be established on Skid Row and staffed by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

"If we encounter someone who is living on the street or in their car, someone who's in a shelter who's sick, they (the teams) will be able to test them right away to see if their symptoms are related to COVID-19," Garcetti said. "If needed, they'll be able to call an (emergency medical services) transport to immediately bring unhoused folks to safety."

Street medical teams will provide homeless people with social distancing information as well as information on preventive measures they can take against the virus.

Transportation will be provided by the teams to take unhoused people to shelters or hotel and motel rooms that are under agreement with the city and county so they can safely quarantine, according to the mayor's office.

Garcetti said Los Angeles has started receiving its first trailers from the state to house homeless Angelenos who are at great risk, those who are 65 and older, are asymptomatic or at least not showing symptoms, or those with chronic medical conditions.

The first 10 trailers will open at Woodland Hills Recreation Center, with a goal to provide 300 trailers citywide in the coming weeks, the mayor said.

Garcetti also said e is extending deadlines in the city regarding agreements to build affordable housing, so that the affordable housing can be built and developers won't be fined during the Safer at Home orders.

Through the city's collaboration with the county's Project Roomkey, there are now 24 hotels and motels providing about 2,400 rooms to homeless people who are asymptomatic but have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Garcetti said the city is in negotiations with another two-dozen hotels and motels to open rooms for such use.

The Los Angeles Convention Center is now available to receive coronavirus patients, should the hospital system throughout the county become overwhelmed with new cases.

Garcetti said he will provide more information on addressing homelessness during his State of the City address, which is slated for 5:15 p.m. Sunday.