By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Homeless encampments may appear to be growing, but coronavirus infections appear to be staying low among the homeless population.

When the pandemic began, Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services launched several COVID-19 and response programs to mitigate infections among the homeless population.

Robert King Geiser, 35 years-old, after 2 years living on the street, stands outside his tent next to the 110 Freeway, during the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic in Los Angeles California on May 25, 2020. – On May 22, 2020 a federal judge issued a preliminary order requiring that homeless people living under Los Angeles freeway overpasses and underpasses, be relocated for health and safety reasons. (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

“People experiencing homelessness are at especially high risk of COVID spread, also because so many are older adults or have underlying medical conditions,” LA County Department of Health Services’s Cheri Todoroff said. “They’re at really high risk for poor outcomes if they do catch it.”

So the county sent out 23 COVID response teams to regularly visit homeless shelters and encampments to help with infection control, testing, and getting people into medical shelters in the event that they are infected.

The strategy appears to be working. Todoroff says the rate of positive infections among the homeless population is about 2.2%, compared to the county-wide rate of about 10%.

While COVID-19 infections among the homeless population have been kept down, homeless encampments appear to be growing throughout the city in spite of efforts to get people off the streets and into housing through the state’s Project Roomkey, which has added at least 4,000 beds at hotels and motels specifically for homeless people at high risk for COVID-19.