LOS ANGELES | authorities in california are trying to prevent a doomsday scenario: an outbreak of coronavirus among the 150 000 homeless in the State, which could spread like wildfire and quickly become uncontrollable.
The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, recently claimed that this event caused “fear and anxiety considerable,” in the city. He himself is deeply worried about the health consequences of the pandemic for ” those who are not only most vulnerable, but also most at risk “, often combining the promiscuity in the streets with a state-of-health gradient.
California, the fifth world economy in terms of GDP, holds the sad record of the largest population of homeless in the United States. Some 60 000 of them are located in the only county of Los Angeles.
Governor Gavin Newsom has recently warned that more than a third of the population of SDF was at risk of contracting the Covid-19. He announced that $ 150 million would be made available to try to protect them.
Two-thirds of the sum will go to local communities, to organize emergency accommodation. The remainder will be devoted to the purchase of caravans and the rental of hotel rooms. “Helping these people is crucial to protecting the public’s health, flatten the curve and slow the spread of the Covid-19 “, he insisted.
At the end of last week, only one death linked to the new coronavirus had been identified in the population of HOMELESS in california, but experts believe that the situation could rapidly worsen.
“We work really hard to put people into security, and maintain our services,” said Georgia Berkovich, spokeswoman for the NGO The Midnight Mission in Los Angeles.
The organization is located near the neighborhood of Skid Row, in the heart of Los Angeles, which displays the largest concentration of camps of HOMELESS people in the United States. Several thousands of people live in motor homes, tents, makeshift shelters or even on the floor.
“This will affect everyone”
According to Ms. Berkovich, the number of HOMELESS people coming to ask for help has significantly increased. “Usually, we serve meals to about 400 people for lunch. But in this moment, it receives more than 800 people, and over 900 for dinner, ” she said to the AFP.
Why is this attendance? Because of the restrictions and guidelines of the containment in order to curb the pandemic, other NGOS and churches in the area are in the process of reducing their offers of free meals, weakening a little more in the population of homeless.
It also becomes increasingly difficult to obtain as a disinfectant, disposable gloves and other protective equipment, which complicates the task of the associations, is Georgia Berkovich.
“If this virus is affecting our population of HOMELESS, it will affect the whole world. If we had a case in our community, I can’t even imagine how fast it would broadcast “, is concerned about it.
Eric Garcetti has announced that a thousand beds had already been installed in eight centres, and many others were to follow in different gyms of the city.
Some families have not waited for government assistance be put in place and have undertaken to invest of vacant dwellings for shelter.
This is the case of Martha Escudero, 42-year-old, who has taken possession of a lodging of two rooms in the neighborhood of El Sereno, east Los Angeles, to put her two little girls safe.
Ms. Escudero is working as an auxiliary to life, but do not earn enough to pay for rents ever higher in the district.
She spent 18 months living among members of his family or friends. “The pandemic is a global crisis and the government was slow to really help people,” she said.
“The most vulnerable are in the streets, and they need to be able to stay clean, especially now that we have closed the parks, gyms and libraries “, where the homeless have the habit of washing, highlights Martha Escudero.