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Santa Monica Facility For Mentally Ill Has Confirmed Coronavirus Case

View of the Santa Monica pier on March 22, 2020. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
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A board and care home for people living with a mental illness in Santa Monica called The Manor has at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, according to L.A. County.

Keeping board and care homes safe from the new coronavirus poses some specific challenges.

For one thing, many of the thousands of board and care homes in L.A. County have a dozen or more beds, so physical distancing can be difficult.

And watching after people with a mental illness during the outbreak can be especially challenging.

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“They might be having difficulty or trouble understanding the situation that we’re in and also -- in some cases -- following the rules,” said Dr. Curley Bonds, Chief Medical Officer for the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

“Following the rules” could be things like staying at home as much as possible or frequently washing hands.

Bonds said the non-medical staff who run board and care homes are now being asked to wear masks and gloves, which he said can be “frightening” to clients who aren’t accustomed to seeing staff wear medical garb. What’s more, board and care homes don’t typically have personal protective equipment stocked, so facilities are scrambling to find these materials.

Bonds said so far, the home in Santa Monica is the only board and care with a confirmed COVID-19 case that he’s aware of. But he said he does have concerns moving forward.

“Any congregate living space has the risk of rapid transmission,” he said.