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Coronavirus: Garcetti Announces Rapid Testing For Homeless, Pop-Up Facility On Skid Row

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In his Friday address, Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the inequality that exits in society and the work that still needs to be done for racial and economic justice and to protect the city's most vulnerable populations — including those experiencing homelessness.

"With this virus touching every part of our community, we're doing whatever we can to keep those without a home safe," Garcetti said.

And on Friday, the mayor said that homeless populations needed more screening, testing and treatment, which is why the city will launch a street medical team starting Monday to bring medical treatment and counseling to the homeless on skid row and beyond.

"We'll send out field teams to provide rapid results field tests for people showing symptoms, health and welfare screenings in high-density encampments, which have already started, and advice and guidance on effective physical distancing on the streets," Garcetti said.

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The city would also provide transportation to new shelters and hotel rooms to get more people inside and off the streets and will send extra resources to skid row, including a high-capacity pop-up testing facility run by the Los Angeles Fire Department that provides direct referral and transport to isolation and quarantine beds.

"All of this means that if we encounter somebody who's living on the street or in their car, somebody who's in a shelter who's sick, they'll be able to test them right away and see if their symptoms are related to COVID-19," Garcetti said. "And, if needed, they'll be able to call in EMS transport to bring unhoused folks to safety."

Garcetti also announced the city's first trailer program, which will house asymptomatic people experiencing homelessness who are over 65 years of age, have underlying medical conditions or both.

The trailer program builds upon the city's Project Roomkey effort that matches hotels with rooms with those who need shelter during this crisis.

But beyond expanding immediate services to Angelenos experiencing homelessness, Garcetti announced that all housing department deadlines related to the financing of affordable and supportive housing were extended to ensure those projects could move forward without penalty.

"We need that housing," Garcetti said. "We need every single apartment and every single bed that we can build."

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