CBSN Bay Area, April 19, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Health officials reported Sunday that a coronavirus outbreak at San Francisco’s MSC South shelter had grown to 96 positive tests among homeless individuals and 10 staffers. In a news release, San Francisco health officials said the facility has been converted from a shelter to a medical recovery center to house positive cases among the city’s homeless population. Former residents who have not tested positive “have been moved to hotels, isolation, quarantine, or shelter-in-place sites, depending on their needs.” “Staff who have tested positive have been offered isolation hotel rooms if they do not have a safe alternative in their own homes,” health officials said in a daily news update. The outbreak at the massive shelter triggered an emergency ordinance by San Francisco Supervisors that requires the city to house all homeless residents, regardless of age or health status. During a news conference at the city’s Emergency Operations Center last week, Human Services Agency Director Trent Rhorer said so far, the city had secured 2,151 hotel rooms across 14 hotels to protect homeless individuals against the coronavirus. Of those rooms, so far 1,271 will be reserved for homeless people in the shelter system and single-room-occupancy hotel residents who either have tested positive for COVID-19 or may have been exposed, as well as homeless individuals in the shelter system or on the streets who are over 60 or have underlying health conditions. The rest of the hotel rooms will be for city employees who work with the public daily and frontline workers who need to quarantine. A total of 874 homeless residents belonging to the vulnerable population have been placed as of Wednesday, Rhorer said. “We have completed the process of identifying and offering hotel rooms for our vulnerable persons in our shelter system; these are single adults who are age 60 and above (and) who are vulnerable. I can say that not all of them have accepted our offer to move into hotel rooms. In those cases, we will continue to reinforce social distancing in our shelters, the hand washing protocols and all the other safety measures,” he said. He estimated the city will need about 7,000 hotel rooms for vulnerable homeless residents, based on data of vulnerable people in both shelters and on the streets.