County officials sputtered over bureaucratic steps for weeks after announcing a plan to deploy hand-washing stations in areas where homeless people congregate in hopes of combating a deadly hepatitis A outbreak plaguing that population.
On Friday, they sprang into action.
I was first to report on a letter from county Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer demanding that the city immediately allow the county to deploy at least 30 hand-washing stations to try to stem an outbreak that’s left 15 dead and infected nearly 380 people.
The city pledged to allow the county to install the temporary stations immediately and to implement sanitation protocols.
And as the Union-Tribune reports, 20 stations had gone up by the end of the day and the county said 20 more were set to be deployed on Saturday.
The county also declared a local health emergency Friday night, a move Mayor Kevin Faulconer had urged in order to pull in state and federal resources to respond to the crisis. Councilman David Alvarez wrote on Twitter that the city still must do more to act.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
We're making progress in San Diego. We now know how many deaths it takes to get city and county officials to take action in a crisis - 15. 15 is the number. Fifteen.
Ten? Twelve? Fourteen? Nope, not good enough.
Next time a health crisis happens, or a homeless crisis, or any other life-threatening crisis, we can sit on our hands and wait for the numbers to mount up before we expect action. When they hit the big One-five, something could kick in. Emergency orders. Quick responses. Humane solutions. But don't expect a damn thing before that.
Remember that number - 15. Fifteen deaths and then we get down to business.
I hope the city and county officials of San Diego are proud of themselves. The rest of us are not.