To help limit the spread of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority outreach team members have used a new mobile app to conduct more than 36,000 wellness checks.
The HOTSpot app, developed specifically for LAHSA by Akido Labs, allows outreach team members to conduct short surveys with people experiencing homelessness to learn about symptoms they may be experiencing, pre-existing health conditions and potential exposure risks. After answers are input into the app, they can then be tracked as data points that are connected to the specific locations where outreach team members conduct the surveys.
“The HOTSpot app has been a valuable tool for our outreach workers as they work daily to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our unsheltered neighbors,” LAHSA Executive Director Heidi Marston said.
Between the app’s launch on April 20 and Nov. 25, outreach teams conducted 35,946 surveys. In total, the app helped identify 225 people as symptomatic. As of Oct. 26, the data collected by the app led to the administration of 304 COVID-19 tests. It also resulted in 24 calls to 911 to help for someone in need, and 50 calls to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for assistance.
Beyond data collection, the app has helped the outreach teams connect symptomatic clients directly to the DPH Hotline so they can be triaged for a quarantine and isolation unit. It also allows LAHSA to share symptomatic data and locations with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, which can quickly deploy a testing team to the area if needed.
As of Nov. 30, there were nearly 2,440 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness. That is well below projections at the start of the pandemic, LAHSA administrators said. HOTSpot is among many programs that have been successful at preventing widespread transmission of COVID-19 among unsheltered people, including Project Roomkey and the city of LA’s emergency shelters and trailers.
In addition to helping track potential outbreaks in encampments, the app also helped immediately identify whether the people surveyed qualified to be sheltered via Project Roomkey, which remains operational for the next several months while LAHSA’s COVID-19 Recovery Plans is formulated.
For information, visit lahsa.org.
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