SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Standing in front of a motel newly converted into a temporary shelter for the homeless in suburban Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Project Roomkey the latest in the state’s efforts to stem the sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Project Roomkey is the first federally approved Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursable program in the United States which will provide safe COVID-19 isolation capacity for the tens of thousands of Californians who are homeless.
Newsom noted that to date, local governments to date have secured 6,867 hotel and motel rooms with an initial goal of securing up to 15,000 rooms, especially in cities and counties with significant homeless populations such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. Efforts by the state and its county partners have already moved 869 homeless individuals most vulnerable to COVID-19 off the street, out of shelters, and into isolation the governor said.
Essential behavioral health and health care services will also be provided by the local governments and community partners, as needed. Newsom said that the state and local governments will receive up to 75 percent cost-share reimbursement from FEMA for hotel and motel rooms, including wraparound supports such as meals, security, and custodial services.
“Homeless Californians are incredibly vulnerable to COVID-19 and often have no option to self-isolate or social distance,” said Newsom. “By helping the most vulnerable homeless individuals off the street and into isolation, California can slow the spread of COVID-19 through homeless populations, lower the number of people infected and protect critical health care resources. We’re working hard with our county partners to get these hotels up and running as rapidly as possible.”
Friday marked another grim day as the numbers of cases and deaths rose in California. By the end of the workday there were 12,556 total cases with 280 deaths statewide. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 11 new deaths and 521 new cases of COVID-19. Bringing the total number to 4,566 cases and 89 deaths.
“Every life lost to COVID-19 is precious and we extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have died,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer Director of Public Health. “As we reach our goal of testing 10,000 people a day, we need to prepare for a significant increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19; we could easily see 1000 cases or more per day in the near future. With more people infected, there can be increased spread if we all aren’t physically separating ourselves from others at every opportunity.
And while it may make sense for people to wear a cloth face-covering when they need to be out of their homes to protect others from respiratory secretions, staying home when ill, frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing remains our best protection against the spread of COVID-19. We ask everyone to do their part and not use any medical masks for face covering, We ask everyone to do their part and not use any medical masks for face covering, reserving our limited supply of N95 and surgical masks for healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers in close contact with those who are ill.”
The City of West Hollywood Friday also issued further guidelines. In a statement, the city government laid out social distancing enforcement measures to respond to community concerns about construction crews and park/dog park users.
“While essential construction is permitted under Safer at Home orders and socially distanced park recreation has been permitted, it is vitally important that all community members adhere to public health orders to stay at home whenever possible and to use social distancing when in public for essential reasons.
Additionally, LA County social distancing orders are enforceable by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and failure to comply is a crime,” the statement read.
“You’re welcome to bring your dog to our dog parks as long as you observe our social distancing rules every time,” said West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “County and State public health orders have been put into place to flatten the curve of coronavirus transmission and it’s essential that all of us – not just some of us – adhere to orders for social distancing. And we expect all construction workers and sites to be proactive in ensuring safe workplaces. Our City staff will not hesitate to shut down activities where there’s evidence of unsafe distancing. There is zero tolerance for groups gathering at an unsafe distance – we must do what we can to prevent new life-threatening cases of COVID-19.”
The City’s Building and Safety and Code Compliance Divisions recommend the following measures for construction activities:
Handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer to be installed at entrances to construction projects;
Shared tools and equipment to be sanitized;
Signage posted to instruct workers of social distancing and sanitation requirements, and entrance limitations for workers who are sick or exhibit symptoms of being ill or those in recent close contact with someone exposed to COVID-19; and
Workers not to gather in groups larger than three during breaks and to maintain a six-foot social distance during such breaks.
In addition, if construction is taking place within an occupied residential building, steps must be taken to minimize contact with areas within the building (excluding the actual construction area) and to clean and sanitize those areas daily.