Los Angeles

Coronavirus Cases Continue to Multiply Among LA's Homeless

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The biggest cluster of coronavirus cases on Los Angeles' Skid Row has increased more than 70% in the last five days. 

The NBC4 I-Team Monday learned that 97 people at the Union Rescue Mission have tested positive for the coronavirus; last Wednesday the number of cases there was 56. 

Among those who tested positive for coronavirus is a chaplain, a frontline worker and a health department worker stationed at the shelter. At least two people associated with the outbreak at Union Rescue Mission have died.

“COVID-19 has moved in like a storm, and we’ve been doing all that we can,” said Union Rescue Mission CEO Reverend Andy Bales.

In response to the spreading virus, the shelter is now testing residents and staffers every week.

“Even area hospitals aren’t providing tests every week to their team,” said Reverend Bales.

Many homeless living on the streets of Skid Row are still not getting tested, despite the city's effort to try and test them.


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The I-Team visited the city's pop-up testing site on Skid Row Monday afternoon and observed that the waiting area was empty. But just around the corner at the same time, hundreds of people were waiting in line, shoulder to shoulder with no social distancing, to get lunch at the Midnight Mission. 

The LA County Public Health Department said Monday its investigating possible outbreaks at 12 more shelters in the LA area.

"We will continue to see outbreaks in may of the congregant living sites and among many of the unsheltered people experiencing homelessness," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county department of public health.

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