VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. -- Ventura County has made major moves to get the homeless off the streets and tested during the Coronavirus pandemic crisis.
“The less this thing spreads in the community, the better everyone is going to be," said Dr. Jerry Noah, who is the Medical Director for the Homeless Clinic in Ventura County.
In an effort to help keep the virus from spreading, Ventura County has rented out rooms from local motels to temporarily place people who don't have shelter.
“Most of our homeless population is either in encampments where they are all close together in an area, or in some of our shelters throughout the county,” said Dr. Noah.
During this process, white tents are set up in the motel parking lots. They are used as screening tents by officials to screen people for medical issues when they arrive. Social service staff are also stationed there. Those who are at higher risk will be moved into a motel room.
“We are trying to bring our homeless people that are at a higher risk for the Coronavirus,” said Dr. Noah. “So folk that are over the age of 65 years old, and folks with chronic medical conditions, we are trying to get them into a room where they will be safer from the spread of this virus.”
Ventura County counted 1,743 homeless people in 2020. Of those, the county has housed 80 in motels and is still looking to place 250 more. Officials say they are actively testing clients for the virus if need be.
“We have swobs on sight if anyone has the symptoms that they are looking for,” said Dr. Noah. “Fever or cough, shortness of breath symptoms, we can do a swab right here. We can isolate those people until their test results come back. We have had one confirmed positive case so far, so we have isolated that person along with all of the people he has had contact with. They are all in isolation now.”
There is one temporary housing facility for the homeless in Ventura and another one in Oxnard. The County plans to expand into two more motels in the next couple of days. The locations have not been released.