COVID-19 Highlights How Our Society Struggles to Provide Help to Those That Need It

A Summary of COVID-19 news

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The COVID-19 crisis brought to the center stage the challenges of how we, as a society, provide help to those struggling with mental health illness, homelessness, addiction and poverty.

GET HELP’s relationship with providers in the Los Angeles area has held it close to the front line of the crisis, and the GET HELP app was loaded with COVID crisis support by Mid-March, providing the ability to search for COVID-19 meals, shelters, food banks, homeless services, and showers. These additions supplemented the already rich database of sober living facilities, treatment centers, hospitals, domestic violence services, detox support, LGBTQ resources, veterans services, mental health services, co-occuring disorders resources, substance abuse help, and specialized services for youth (under 18) and seniors (65+).

Additionally its website is providing vital information such as COVID019 Testing, handwashing stations locations, and resources for States and Legislators.

News coverage in the Los Angeles area has been extensive regarding the homeless. With Governor orders to stay home, the stark reality for the homeless has never been more clear. Gov. Gavin Newsom said homeless people would be prioritized as a vulnerable population.

“Homeless service providers are facing a long list of needs during the COVID-19 outbreak, but it’s particularly challenging to know how to best help at this moment,” said Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, mid March.

Los Angeles then announced it would convert 42 of its recreation centers into temporary shelters for homeless residents, providing 6,000 new beds in an effort aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, led by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

GET HELP Advisory Board Chair, Lloyd Sederer, MD, in an article published on the GET HELP blog, advising that during this time of “social distancing” and “sheltering at home,” people focus on over-communicating. It is not the medium that counts, it’s the message of being close despite the circumstances, he said. He also recommends for our communities a set of organizational mandates, unfaltering urgency of response; clear accountability; continuous coordination among the myriad of agencies and organizations charged with responding to the disaster, responsible media coverage; and preparation for the next disaster.

As public spaces like libraries have closed, life has become unimaginably hard for those without housing. With gyms closed some homeless who live in their car now have nowhere to shower and are improvising with bottles of water in strip mall parking lots, only to accidently incite coronavirus panic spawned from crowds outside the shopping center.

A group of business leaders, tech giants, and celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, teamed up in March to launch a GoFundMe campaign to help combat the medical supply shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Frontline Responders Fund—organized by Arnold Schwarzenegger, filmmaker Edward Norton, philanthropist Ron Conway, Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen, and GoFundMe Chairman Rob Solomon—is seeking $5 million in donations in order to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline medical responders in hospitals nationwide.

Then Mayor Garcetti announced that lockdown would last into April and May, and probably longer. Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider. “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

Las Vegas homeless people were shown sleeping in a parking lot – six feet apart – as a result of one shelter shuttering its doors after an outbreak of coronavirus, leaving 500 homeless people with nowhere to stay.

The Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles is also seeing a rash of coronavirus outbreak and even lost a staffer who succumbed to the virus, and is operating the shelter now at 50% capacity to allow greater social distancing.

The city’s 13 new homeless shelters are 95% full, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s spokesman Alex Comisar. The mayor’s office opened the shelters inside city recreation centers and, since then, has been hustling to convert more in hopes of lowering the threat of the virus spreading among the high-risk population in encampments.

Sean Penn joined Garcetti on April 17, 2020, with his foundation CORE, to help bolster city and county effort to offer free tests across the county. Sean Penn appeared at the Crenshaw Christian Center testing site to lend CORE’s support in spreading testing across the region in an effort to contain the pandemic.

Hoping to prevent a surge of deadly coronavirus cases in the homeless community, Los Angeles officials have also launched a new effort to move an unprecedented 15,000 people out of overcrowded shelters and encampments and into hotel rooms.

It’s a daunting goal, given that nearly 60,000 people live without permanent shelter in L.A. County, most of them sleeping in the streets each night.

Los Angeles also announced it will provide COVID-19 testing and additional resources to Skid Row and other encampments in the city to protect the homeless population from the virus.

GET HELP remains committed to playing a role in the solution and participating in the monitoring and support of systems to help the homeless, with mental health disorders including substance abuse disorder, and to support professionals, municipalities and providers with its tools to ease the chaos and help more people find help.

See GET HELP monitors the news for full coverage of the news mentioned here. To download the GET HELP app CLICK HERE. To get involved with GET HELP visit our About page and fill in a Volunteer Form or a Contact Us form so we can reach out to you.

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