O.C. to use juvenile correctional facility to shelter homeless amid coronavirus pandemic as cases climb to 95

Coronavirus
A deputy walks through a homeless encampment beside the Santa Ana River in Anaheim on Feb. 20, 2018.(Frederic J. Brown/ AFP via Getty Images)

A deputy walks through a homeless encampment beside the Santa Ana River in Anaheim on Feb. 20, 2018.(Frederic J. Brown/ AFP via Getty Images)

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As COVID-19 cases in Orange County climbed to 95 Sunday, officials announced they will be using a former Trabuco Canyon juvenile correctional facility to shelter some of the county’s vulnerable homeless people amid the pandemic.

The Joplin Youth Center will be used to house older homeless people who are not exhibiting any symptoms of the respiratory illness, O.C. officials said. Health experts have emphasized that the coronavirus can cause more serious symptoms in those 65 and older.

The facility, which was closed back in May 2019, is the first designated in the county to be used as a shelter in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is the latest in a series of precautionary and preventative measures taken by the County of Orange to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the homeless population,” Orange County’s Emergency Operations Center officials said in a news release.

Officials said the county is still working out logistics to determine bed space at Joplin Youth Center while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The county also chose two shelters from county armory sites to help get people off the streets and provide medical care after Gov. Gavin Newsom deployed the National Guard to assist with food and supply distribution amid the public health emergency.

The shelters will be moved from National Guard Armories to the Independence Park Gymnasium on 801 W. Valencia Drive in Fullerton and the Salvation Army site at 2603 W. First St. in Santa Ana.

Officials said the shelter in Fullerton will have ample outdoor space for people to stay during the daytime.

Both are expected to be moved to their new locations by Tuesday and are scheduled to stay there with 24-hour access until April 15.

“The County is working to develop alternate locations to shelter COVID-19 symptomatic and vulnerable homeless persons,” O.C. officials said.

The governor has already announced he would spend $150 million on efforts to prevent the COVID-19 virus from sweeping through California’s homeless population, warning that it’s possible 60,000 could contract the virus statewide.

The emergency aid will be allocated to local governments and will be used to set up protective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless, who are described as being a particularly vulnerable population during the pandemic.

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