SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA) – A homeless woman diagnosed with coronavirus who was staying at a hotel in Sherman Oaks broke her quarantine Thursday afternoon and refused to return.
The woman was staying at the Sherman Hotel in the 15000 block of Ventura Boulevard as part of a medical sheltering program through the city.
Just before 2 p.m., Los Angeles police were notified by hotel staff that the woman had gone missing from the hotel.
Police put out a missing person alert and officers were finally able to locate the woman. However, she refused to return to the hotel and police eventually let her go free.
An LAPD official told CBS2 they cannot force COVID-19 patients to stay at these hotels. They are free to come and go as they please.
At a news conference Thursday night, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the incident.
“I think people out there understand that there are some people experiencing homelessness that can be very challenging in terms of mental health issues they have, and/or addiction problems that they have, we knew that long before COVID-19,” Garcetti said. “So you can never bat a thousand, but I’m really proud of how successful that it has been to keep most people there. It’s much safer than everyone being out there on the streets.”
Garcetti added that some coronavirus patients who are not homeless may have also ignored the stay at home orders.
The woman was being housed at the hotel as part of a medical sheltering program through L.A. County. As of Thursday, there were 41 people staying at the Sherman Hotel through that program.
The medical sheltering program is not connected to the state of California’s Project Roomkey initiative. Project Roomkey is a partnership with FEMA which launched earlier this month to temporarily house homeless people in available hotel and motel rooms in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. State and local governments are then reimbursed by FEMA for up to 75 percent for the cost of those rooms.
L.A. County has contracts for a combined 2,500 hotel room beds in cities in the Antelope Valley, the South Bay, the San Gabriel Valley, the San Fernando Valley and metropolitan L.A. to house homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic, according to City News Service.
As of Thursday, there were 17,508 coronavirus cases and 797 deaths from the disease in L.A. County.