Anaheim Officials Report Two COVID-19 Cases in Homeless Shelter Staff; Jail Inmates Released Early

ANAHEIM, Calif. (CNS)—Two employees at a homeless shelter run by Anaheim and the Salvation Army have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but none of the residents have tested positive for coronavirus, a spokesman said.

On March 30, city officials learned the two staff members, who had flu-like symptoms and were sent home from the emergency shelter at 1300 S. Lewis St., had tested positive for the virus, said Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city. One is a man and the other is a woman, he said.

“They are self-isolating and recovering at home and are in generally good spirits and condition,” Lyster said.

The shelter has 205 residents, and 34 have been tested, Lyster said.

Officials are awaiting results, which are expected in 48 hours. The rest of the transients at the shelter declined a test, Lyster said. None of them showed any symptoms, he added.

The shelter has dormitory trailers that house 20 to 25 residents, and each of the transients has an individual space, “which helps with social distancing,” he said.

The shelter has 25 modular buildings on a campus that allows for social distancing as residents get fresh air or exercise, Lyster said.

“This shows the challenge of coronavirus,” Lyster said, adding that shelter officials had been doing hospital-grade cleaning at the site and practicing all of the recommended social distancing techniques. All non-essential visits were canceled as of March 16.

The shelter also had installed more hand-washing sites on the campus, and staff was regularly checking temperatures and monitoring the health of residents and workers, Lyster said.

If the shelter sees more virus cases, officials have various plans to move the entire population elsewhere if necessary, Lyster said—including plans to move them into a hotel if necessary.

The city is planning to receive some trailers from the state that will help to house transients who fall ill to the virus, Lyster said. Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said at the board’s meeting on March 31 that reports that the city had rejected the state’s trailers were false.

Orange County officials told supervisors that some cities in the county have rejected 78 trailers offered by the state. Five cities have volunteered to take the trailers, and they will be spread out throughout the county, officials said.

County officials are also considering putting some transients up in motels and hotels, and said sprung structures would be erected for healthier transients.

Elderly transients will soon be housed in the former Joplin Youth Center in Trabuco Canyon, which is expected to be opened in about a week.

On March 31, Orange County’s CCP virus cases increased by 42 with three new deaths reported, bringing the total number of cases to 502 with a total of seven fatalities.

Ninety-four people are hospitalized, with 46 in intensive care.

Inmates Released Early

Two new cases were also reported in Orange County’s jails on March 30, bringing the total number of men who have tested positive for the virus in custody to five, according to Sheriff Don Barnes.

Between March 27 and March 30, about 130 inmates were released early to make room in the jail for an expected surge in cases.

Forty-three of those inmates were designated at risk because of their age or health, and the rest had 10 days or less to go on their sentence. Barnes said he would go up to 60 days left on a sentence to consider for early release if more beds are needed in the jails.

Another 162 were released on March 31, with 21 considered especially vulnerable because of age or health, sheriff’s Cmdr. Joe Balicki told the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Since March 1, the jails are down 1,000 inmates, Balicki said.

According to sheriff’s officials, that’s the lowest the jail population has been in well over a decade.

Ten inmates are in “medical isolation” because they have symptoms associated with COVID-19, Balicki said, and 193 are in quarantine because they came into contact with others who tested positive.

A few staff members have been sent home with flu-like symptoms, but they have all tested negative for the virus, Balicki said.

Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit alleging a variety of issues in Orange County’s jails filed a motion in federal court on Monday seeking to have more inmates released.

“Plaintiffs request an order to release prisoners: those serving sentences for misdemeanors, or awaiting trial for misdemeanors, those held for probation of parole violations or for immigration, those with remaining actual custody time to release of less than six months, all these held on non-violent charges, and all other pretrial detainees who can post $10,000 bond,” the motion reads.

“In addition no person should be brought into the jail on a warrant, that is all outstanding warrants should be recalled, subject to reissue, as appropriate, individually if needed.”



The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.


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Author: City News Service