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Newsom: California has over 15K hotel rooms for homeless during pandemic

Newsom: California has over 15K hotel rooms for homeless during pandemic
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California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia races to get ahead of another bad fire season Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez highlight vaccine concert California lifting restrictions on in-person worship MORE (D) announced on Saturday that the state had procured nearly 15,000 hotel rooms to shelter homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a daily coronavirus press conference, Newsom said that in addition to the 11,000 hotel rooms already acquired to house the homeless, the state had reached an agreement with hotel chain Motel 6, which will provide an additional 5,025 hotel rooms at 47 locations in 19 counties across California.

The progress is all part of Project Roomkey, an initiative the governor had introduced two weeks ago. The initial goal was to procure 15,000 rooms for the state's homeless population during the pandemic. The collaboration with Motel 6 pushes the state over that goal.

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Newsom said 4,211 homeless Californians have already been provided with hotel rooms, where they can remain safe during the pandemic. In addition, chef José Andrés's World Central Kitchen is providing those sheltered with three hot meals a day, according to Newsom. 

“Homeless Californians are incredibly vulnerable to COVID-19 and often have no option to self-isolate or social distance,” Newsom said in early April.

“By helping the most vulnerable homeless individuals off the street and into isolation, California can slow the spread of COVID-19 through homeless populations, lower the number of people infected and protect critical health care resources. We’re working hard with our county partners to get these hotels up and running as rapidly as possible,” he added at the time.

Newsom explained that homeless Californians who have already tested positive for COVID-19 or who are at high risk for fatal complications — meaning they have an underlying health condition or are elderly — will be prioritized when it comes to getting a room.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is covering 75 percent of the cost of the rooms, while California subsidizes the rest.

During the briefing, the governor also gave his daily update on how California was handling the outbreak. Newsom said that while the number of hospitalizations and people in ICU units went down, 87 more Californians died, bringing the state's death toll to 1,072. Overall, the state has nearly 29,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.