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COVID-19 Update: New High in Deaths as Office of Education Calls for Release of Juvenile Detainees; Other County Services Announced

A screen capture of the Facebook Live online streaming of the L.A. County daily press briefing, on April 8, 2020. Director of LACDHS Christina Ghaly gives the Health Services update.


Alhambra , CA

As L.A. County announced a new one-day high in deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic – 29 – the Los Angeles County Board of Education passed a resolution calling for the release of some students detained in juvenile halls and camps.

Those who are nonviolent offenders, with underlying conditions or nearing the end of their placement and pose no danger to themselves or others are to be immediately released to continue their education at home or at a county school where appropriate to protect their health, practice social distancing and succeed in school, according to a press release from L.A. County Office of Education (LACOE) Superintendent Debra Duardo.

The release of juvenile detainees requires court approval under state law.

LACOE and the Probation Department operate the Juvenile Court Schools, and currently educate about 600 students, mostly young men of color, though it’s not clear how many would be released. LACOE plans to work with each student to find safe placement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Los Angeles County is working with the state on Project Roomkey, an effort to house the homeless, chronically ill and vulnerable seniors at quarantine, isolation and medical shelters. People will be referred by homeless services and will not available to walk-in clients.

The COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center is working with the L.A. County Homeless Initiative and the L.A. County Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to secure 15,000 hotel and motel rooms so that those who are sick can be cared for, but also those who are at high-risk to be able practice social distancing. Each site will have homeless service providers, medical staff and provide three meals a day – and upon discharge assist in finding stable housing.

At the moment, there are 266 rooms planned in the SGV, according to today’s Office of Emergency Management COVID-19 Incident Update, and about half are currently operational.

The COVID-19 housing at Dockweiler State Park in Playa Del Rey will be moving to Bell Gardens in Southeast L.A. to continue to serve the “most medically fragile” including those with complex underlying health conditions, substance use disorders or mental illness affected by COVID-19, according to the Department of Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly.

To date, the Dockweiler location has hosted 77 clients. In March, DHS helped 200 people with mental illness or the extremely medically fragile find stable housing, and expects to house 200 more in the next two weeks.

The county’s Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services is delivering meals, free of charge, to older adults and those with disabilities. Called the Critical Delivery Service, groceries, household items and other necessities will be brought to those who are unable to leave their homes.

The delivery service is 24/7 with no application process required, however, items must be prepaid and ready for pick-up when the driver arrives at the location. The service has some limitations – either four times per month or 40 miles per month, whichever comes first – and can only be scheduled Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer gave a detailed guide for those who are disabled, particularly ones with compromised health like lung conditions, and need caregivers in their homes.

Ferrer’s advice included writing a detailed “personal emergency plan” that includes specialists, doctors, meal programs, pharmacy, coordinators and contact numbers. Those living with disabilities should have 30 days of food, medicines and supplies, and limit contact with those in their home and family. Caregivers for the disabled should always wear a mask and gloves and should sanitize common surfaces frequently.

The messaging from both the state and county Wednesday was clear: reminding all to stay in their homes and practice social distancing on vital trips to the market or pharmacy.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his noon briefing, “The curve is bending, but also stretching. Let’s not step back, let’s continue to move forward.”

There are some who are celebrating religious holidays in the coming days but they will have to do so in their homes as L.A. County has ordered parks closed over the weekend.  Social distancing doesn’t mean total isolation – reach out to others over the phone or video chat.

“We have weeks to go before we will be able to lift any of the health officer orders,” said Ferrer.

Status: 7530 total cases, 198 total deaths

In the last 24 hours: 620 new cases, 29 new deaths

See the full break down here.

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Los Angeles County Department of Public Health page.

For all of the reporting from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.

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