Coronavirus and Preventing a Crisis within a Crisis

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called for extra precautions to protect a particularly vulnerable population – the homeless.

“While this is a challenging issue for everyone, people experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable and we must do everything we can to help them,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “LA County is being proactive and collaborating with all stakeholders. I urge everyone  to be calm, cautious, mindful and empathetic as we work together to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

In addition to voting for a Barger/Solis motion that the Board of Supervisors declare a local emergency, he asked LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer about the need to roll out sanitation stations and other measures to prevent any outbreaks among people who live on the streets, many of whom already suffer from poor health and have compromised immune systems.

Dr. Ferrer acknowledged the safety precautions that the general public have been urged to take against coronavirus can be “impossible” for those who are unsheltered. “They cannot stay home when they’re sick. They cannot wash their hands often. Many times, they don’t have a medical provider that they’re in contact with,” she testified before the Board. “We also know that people who are experiencing homelessness are actually sicker than the general public and already have heightened mortality rates so we are very concerned that novel coronavirus can disproportionately devastate people who are experiencing homelessness.”

Dr. Ferrer said Public Health teams are currently visiting hundreds of interim housing facilities – mostly homeless shelters – countywide to ensure each has adequate facilities and links to medical providers. This week, she will meet with the leaders of several departments and agencies – including LA County’s Homeless Initiative and Office of Emergency Management (OEM), as well as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority – to identify locations where homeless people can be isolated when sick.

“If we do start seeing cases among people who are experiencing homelessness, we need to be prepared to house people who have mild illness and don’t require hospitalization,” Dr. Ferrer told the Board. “These folks will require… a place where they can be isolated and other folks who are (their) close contacts will require a place where they, too, can be quarantined. We are working with OEM and our other county partners to identify what those locations might look like. What we don’t want is a lot of people going back out to the streets when we could be facing possible outbreak situations.”

For the most up-to-date and accurate data on coronavirus, available in different languages, go to Public Health’s webpage:

Message From Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Coronavirus

Photo by the CDC


Dear Residents,

Amid growing anxiety about the coronavirus, I want to assure you that Los Angeles County is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and other partners to monitor the situation.

There are currently no new cases of coronavirus in Los Angeles County, but our Department of Public Health has a comprehensive plan if any cases are identified. This includes testing, diagnosis, treatment and quarantine.

In the meantime, we should all take the following precautions recommended by health experts. Most of these are already familiar to you, as they’re the same measures you take to avoid catching the common flu.

  • Wash your hands often
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces robustly and regularly
  • Have food, water and other essential provisions to last a few days
  • Get immunized against the flu
  • Stay home when you’re sick — don’t wait until you are VERY sick

There’s a lot of alarming misinformation out there, and we appreciate you remaining calm throughout this fast-moving situation.

For the most up-to-date and accurate data, available in different languages, go to the Department of Public Health’s webpage on the coronavirus. You can download fact sheets and stay tuned for upcoming telebriefings.

With hope,

Mark Ridley-Thomas
Supervisor, Second District