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Morning Brief: Shelter Outbreaks, LAFD and LAPD Omicron, And Hiking Eaton Canyon

A woman wearing a mask walks past a Skid Row sign pointing out a population of "Too Many" in Los Angeles.
A woman walks past a Skid Row sign pointing out a population of "Too Many" in Los Angeles on April 26, 2021.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Jan. 7.

As omicron surges, 150 of L.A.’s homeless shelters and encampments are experiencing COVID outbreaks. For the city’s unhoused population, that means there are few places to go for shelter, and even fewer places to go if they need to isolate.

“Even if people want to come in, we're unable to accommodate them because as long as we're in outbreak status, we cannot take new people into the program," said Michael Arnold with the Midnight Mission on Skid Row.

Early on in the pandemic, both California and L.A. officials announced they would work to get high-risk members of the homeless community into hotel or motel rooms in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID among that population.

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That program, known as Project Roomkey, will come to an end this year. There are 1,400 unused rooms at the moment, but in order to be eligible for one of them, a person has to be referred through “appropriate channels,” according to L.A. County’s website.

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My colleague Elly Yu reports that there are three county-run sites for unhoused folks to isolate or quarantine — in Compton, near USC and in Sherman Oaks — and another will open this weekend on Skid Row.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • The LAPD and LAFD have been hit hard by COVID, with 505 police department employees and 254 fire department employees reported out due to the virus. 
  • The L.A. County Fire Department has identified the firefighter killed while responding to an overnight structure fire in Ranchos Palos Verdes.
  • Districts throughout California are scrambling to provide adequate COVID-19 testing to students.
  • With new rules around water usage, Californians could face fines for things like hosing down driveways or watering grass within two days of rainfall.
  • The spud-tacular Potato Expo made its return.
  • It's an open secret that the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association aren't legitimate, and the film industry’s bigwigs are finally owning up. 
  • Bonjour yogurt claims to have just three ingredients. Is that accurate?

Before You Go ... This Week's Outdoor Pick: Eaton Canyon Falls

Photo by KayOne73 via Flickr

This popular 3.5-mile roundtrip hike is located outside Pasadena. The moderate trail includes a wide dirt path and a narrower track, and takes hikers to a 40-foot waterfall with views of the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains.

Or, you could: Attend an outdoor celebration for Dia de los Reyes. Pay tribute to Betty White with a hot dog. Learn about upcoming space missions to Venus. View pop art tributes P.T. Anderson's films. And more.

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