SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, May 26, details from the coronavirus pandemic noted that the rise in death rates for the homeless is a not a result of COVID-19, but the lack of shelter and essential services. City shelter operations have cut back to increase social distancing and to prevent filling beds up to capacity.
Dr. Barry Zevin stated that congregate settings are a huge danger in terms of COVID spread, and that’s why the changes were implemented; he believes it was the right decision, but acknowledged that it might come with consequences.
In February, public health officials acknowledged that most homeless individuals are battling addictions. Due to the lack of health care, they don’t have access to burprenorphine which treats the risk of opioid overdose.
After six weeks, death rates of homeless people has been soaring. Officials indicated that their deaths are likely connected to drug overdoses. The San Francisco Department of Public Health has not determined the total number of homeless individuals who have received COVID-19 testing.
From March 30 to May 10, 36 people died with an average of six per week according to Zevin. The majority of the deaths occurred in the Tenderloin District. Four died in a hotel suite, one death was linked to a medical condition, another individual died hours after visiting a hospital, and departing from jail. In addition, two others with unknown circumstances have died.
San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney noted the deaths of homeless individuals has been exacerbated because people are more disrupted and disconnected than usual.
More than a thousand homeless people in San Francisco have been placed in apartments and hotels. Individuals suffering from health issues were placed in hotels to avoid the virus.
On Wednesday, May 6 there was a safety assessment plan for the individuals living in the Tenderloin neighborhoods. Mayor London Breed’s objective was to improve the conditions, which recently saw an increase in tents, with numbers reaching 285 since January.