LA Encourages Those Experiencing Homelessness to Social Distance Their Tents

The city has reported hiccups in efforts to offer hygiene and emergency shelters to those on the streets amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

The city of Los Angeles has reported to a federal judge it is making progress in expanding emergency shelter programs for those experiencing homelessness, who public health experts warn may be at greatest risk for exposure to the coronavirus.

In a court filing late Monday, the city said it was setting up a second tier of emergency shelters, with the first 7 of 13 additional shelter spaces opening by this Friday, and had begun to stage trailers at two parks for additional space for individuals who need to be isolated or quarantined.

For those who can’t find shelter space or who have chosen to remain on the street, the city told the judge it was, "engaged with Skid Row service providers and community advocates in efforts to educate persons experiencing homelessness in the Skid Row area to practice social distancing and space their tents 12 feet apart from each other."

The city reported the Andy Gump company began to remove outdoor handwashing stations that had been left near homeless encampments – after one of its employees was punctured with a hypodermic needle.

The employee was servicing a washing station in the 2300 block of Beverly Blvd. when a syringe punctured a hose, and the needle "pierced through his protective rubber gloves, the latex gloves he was wearing underneath, and through his skin all the way down to the bone."

Photograph filed in court by the city of Los Angeles shows the hypodermic needle that punctured the hand of a maintenance worker cleaning a handwashing station that had been left near a homeless service center in Los Angeles.

The City said Andy Gump began to remove its washing stations "without any input from the city" after the employee was injured. The city said it is working with Andy Gump to replace the washing stations, "to keep these life-saving hygiene facilities available to persons experiencing homelessness while at the same time addressing the company’s legitimate concerns about the safety of its employees who deploy and service this equipment."


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In its filing, the city said it planned to set aside 1,000 coronavirus tests each day specifically for the homeless population. The city said it hoped to get test results within 2 days for the tests once arrangements were made with private contractors.

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