LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell Monday introduced a motion to provide free on-site testing for the novel coronavirus at all permanent and temporary homeless shelters.

The motion would direct the city’s homeless coordinator to work with all relevant departments as well as he county to provide the test kits.

“The city has already made sure vulnerable, at-risk residents such as those living in nursing homes receive free testing,” O’Farrell said. “We need to also ensure that our shelter residents have free testing on-site.

“Knowing your status is a critical first step in flattening the curve of the pandemic, and with this initiative no Angelenos will be left behind, making us all safer in the long run.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti has already opened up testing to all residents of Los Angeles County — though people with symptoms, first responders and essential workers are still prioritized.

O’Farrell said that bringing testing to at-risk individuals, instead of having them navigate public transportation, decreases their risk of exposure.

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And for Jazzmun Crayton, a coordinator for the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, which provides outreach services in Hollywood and manages a Bridge Home program for transgender individuals, offering testing at shelters will ensure its residents are truly safer at home.

O’Farrell said transgender individuals experiencing homelessness could be at higher risk for COVID-19 due to several factors, including a fear or mistrust of the health care system due to past negative experiences or immigration status.

“This testing is especially important to the population we serve, and now we will be able to protect them as well as the essential workers within our organization,” Crayton said.

In his daily briefing, Garcetti expressed his support for the motion and said he believed the city has the capacity to expand testing to shelters, though he said the logistics of doing that would take time.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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