OC working on ways to house homeless amid coronavirus pandemic

Fifty-one new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Orange County Monday, which is on the low end compared to daily case counts in the last week or so.

Still, the graphs continue to move upwards, so health officials say we still have a long way to go.

"Remember, we're only a little over two weeks into the stay-at-home, so I know people in our community may be getting a little bit of cabin fever, maybe feeling like they're cramped in and when is this gonna change and when is this gonna let up? And this is really the time for us to redouble our effort," said David Souleles, deputy director of the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Although Orange County health officials recognize the good work being done with physical distancing, they say we're still in this for a while. But with that, comes some good news from Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.

"During this crisis, calls for service have declined, and certain crimes have also declined as a result. Property crimes, burglaries have decreased, traffic collisions have decreased and happily, domestic violence and some disturbance calls have not seen a significant increase as more people are home," said Barnes, who also addressed two deputies who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating themselves at home.

Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors provided an update on their efforts to establish alternative care options for the homeless population during the pandemic, as ordered by the governor.

"Orange County has been working to find hotel and motel partners to temporarily house homeless individuals," said Supervisor Andrew Do.

"We have identified the first hotel with 127 rooms. This hotel is secured for a three-month period, and began receiving clients on April 3," said Jason Austin, the director of care coordination with the OC Health Care Agency.

This comes after a hotel in Laguna Woods agreed, but then asked to be released from their contract over the weekend when people from a nearby retirement home expressed outrage.

"I know we are asking a lot of all of you to put your trust and security in the county's hands, but I guarantee you, right now, this is the only way to do it," said supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

Much more will be discussed at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, including efforts to require essential workers to wear some sort of face covering at work.
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