Six counties in the Bay Area are expected to announce a “shelter in place” order, effective until mid-April, “directing everyone to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible for the next three weeks as public health officials desperately try to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus across the region,” per the San Francisco Chronicle.
But San Francisco’s thousands upon thousands of homeless individuals are, of course, exempt from the order, leaving residents questioning how the city plans to curb the spread of communicable disease in temporary “communities” and tent cities where illness is rampant and basic hygiene is almost non-existent.
“The directive begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and involves San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties — a combined population of more than 6.7 million,” the Chronicle reported Monday. “It is to stay in place until at least April 7. Three other Bay Area counties — Sonoma, Solano and Napa — were not immediately included.”
The order is not techically a “lockdown,” but it does allow for police and sheriffs department officials to “ensure compliance.”
“The scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the (coronavirus) emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the order reads, per the Chronicle. “One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable.”
The order covers a host of issues: it prevents gatherings “of any size” and prohibits individuals from leaving their homes except to seek emergency medical care, purchase necessary supplies and food, or provide friends and family with “necessary assitance.” People are allowed to go for walks but cannot come within six feet of any other people, and cannot go to work unless they are able to work from home or they provide an “essential service.”
There is one caveat, however: “People who are homeless are exempt from the order but encouraged to find shelter.”
San Francisco’s homeless population has already played host to a number of outbreaks, including an outbreak of typhus. At one point, late last year, officials were concerned that some members of San Francsico’s thousands-strong homeless community were even suffering from bubonic plague.
The city is also suffering from something of a “hygiene crisis” stemming from its homeless, spending millions upon millions in city funds to clean up streets littered with human feces and drug paraphernalia. In 2019, San Francisco actually established a “Poop Patrol” whose only job it is to clean feces off sidewalks and whose members make more than $150,000 per year.
Instead of quarantining the city’s homeless, San Francisco will, reportedly, spend an additional $5 million to keep areas where homeless individuals congregate clean and sanitized, per Business Insider.
“San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Monday that dozens of workers will be hired to be part of a cleaning crew that will regularly deep-clean the shelters, supportive housing buildings, and the SRO’s, which are funded by the city. The money will also be used to keep shelters, including Navigation Centers, open 24/7,” the outlet reported.