Stop Recreation Centers in Los Angeles being used as homeless shelters.

Stop Recreation Centers in Los Angeles being used as homeless shelters.

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Rebecca Malamed MD started this petition to Mayor City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

March 30, 2020

Dear Mayor Garcetti, 

We strongly oppose your plan to house the homeless at the Palisades Recreation Center (or any other recreation center in Los Angeles). This action is contrary to CDC guidelines and is dangerous to the homeless and dangerous to these communities. 

To quote the CDC guidelines:

"Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread."

Your office claims that the city is taking this action based on recommendations from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health does NOT have the expertise to override the CDC (the Center for Disease Control) on any matter of infectious disease. 

Please do not move the homeless until you can find suitable single housing units to house these individuals during this public health crisis. We strongly recommend the use of motels or other buildings that provide for the proper social distancing and potential isolation of these individuals. 

April 5, 2020 Addendum to petition. 

Research concerning COVID-19 does not support the homeless living in a communal living situation. 

The CDC referred a Japanese study that found that there was much greater transmission of SARS-CoV-2 indoors as compared to outdoors. Actually it was over 18 times greater transmission. This suggests that housing the homeless indoors in shelters will cause a much greater incidence of infection in any homeless individuals housed indoors. This research means that living outdoors is actually much safer for the homeless. We believe that in the absence of individual housing unit the city of LA should consider using public land (city, county, state or federal lands) to create areas of safety for the homeless population. Sanitation facilities could be urgently created and social services and health care could be available to the largest number of individuals. 

JAMA Insights recently published a study by Lydia Bourouiba, PhD (a researcher from MIT) that found that respiratory droplets could spread much further than was previously thought. She found that respiratory droplets could travel 23-27 feet and that these droplets could stay airborne for hours. This implies that the previous recommendation of 6 feet separation between homeless individuals in shelters is not even close to adequate. Small indoor communal shelters are not safe, and cannot possibly be made safe, for homeless individuals. This supports the CDC recommendation that if the homeless are to be moved indoors that they must to be housed in individual housing units (such as motels or hotels) to prevent further spread of the SARS-Cov-2. 

Currently available research supports the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation. Researchers from the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine wrote in an April 1 report to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy that since it is likely that the coronavirus is airborne, that this could help explain why it is so contagious, and can spread before people have symptoms. SARS-Cov-2 and has been found to be most contagious before and during the first week of symptoms. This means that the screening the city has indicated it intends to do (general health checks and screening for elevated temperatures) will be useless. Homeless individuals are already infected and so they will simply bring their infection into the shelters and spread the infection to other homeless individuals. 

Since the city has made it clear that homeless individuals will not be forced to stay in the shelters, this poses a great risk to the neighborhoods and local communities in which the city intends to house (or are already housing) some homeless individuals. 

Mr. Mayor, please reconsider your decision to house the homeless in these shelters. It is dangerous for the homeless and dangerous for your local communities. 


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At 10,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!