This post has been updated.
In June, county officials went public with a plan to respond to the deadliest hepatitis A outbreak in decades. Two months later, they’ve got little to show for it – and people are continuing to die.
Health experts believe poor hygiene is fueling the spread of the virus, which has disproportionately pummeled the city’s homeless population, so they decided to deploy temporary hand-washing stations in places where the homeless settle.
But so far, the county’s managed to set up just two hand-washing stations – and until Wednesday both were miles away from the downtown streets that are essentially ground zero of the outbreak.
As officials have sputtered, the crisis has surged. Fifteen people have died and more than 260 have been hospitalized. The number of reported cases has more than doubled since the June announcement alone.
County officials have typical gripes about bureaucratic red tape, an issue with a vendor and an inability to swiftly coordinate with city officials. They also insist that the plan to put out hand-washing stations must first exist as a pilot program before it can be rolled out on a larger scale.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Foot dragging is the result of priorities. The problem of homeless people is unsavory and certainly not "sexy" for the bureaucrats. Is it a stretch to say the topic is sticky and political? While we can understand the reluctance to tackle the issue, now it has become a public health issue ready to explode when it didn't need to. Bottom line, though, seems to be in the lack of leadership and in making this a top priority. It seems like no one wanted to touch the issue or everyone involved didn't have any direction. Now San Diego is famous for Hep B. Our children are at risk - particularly if they are riding public transportation or living in neighborhoods where homeless people have move to, such as hillcrest, north park, normal heights and many others. If even a few children come in contact with Hep B, schools will become the first epicenter. Its time to stop avoiding the issue and whining about "lazy, dirty, crazy" homeless people and start dealing with this issue.
The Hep A crisis may be the tipping point to again view
homelessness as a public health issue.
Many of the laws we view as "quaint", like no spitting on the sidewalks & no camping on city streets, are attempts from the 1800's and 1930's to increase public sanitation. Those laws made it harder, and illegal, to live outside in an urban environment. People were arrested, thrown in jail, or sent away, as at the time it was thought of as for the good of public sanitation.
With public assistance available for all, and available beds going unused, it begs the question; Why is living in the public right of way, and open defecation, no longer considered a crime?
Besides the hand washing stations should be porta-potties. Putting out just the hand washing stations only solves half of the contagion problem.
Permits are not required for Temporary Plastic Hand Washing Stations and Restrooms. Especially during Public Health Emergencies like Hepatitis A and Homelessness.
Permits are required for Permanent Hand Washing Stations and Restrooms only.
"We wished we could help, but it would be illegal" needs to be challenged.
MTS refuses to provide restrooms for commuters. The MTS Board should take up the issue of sanitation and allow Public Restrooms on MTS private property owned for the benefit of the public.
FYI: Another person died of hepatitis this week.
See: http://bit.ly/SDCountyHepA1 for weekly updates
Aug. 15: 11 deaths, 333 cases
Aug. 22: 14 deaths, 352 cases
Aug. 29: 15 deaths, 378 cases
This is entirely inexcusable and unacceptable...I begin to wonder if city officials have the slightest grasp of the problems and also wonder if they'd just as soon see the homeless population die off. San Diego is a lovely place with very ugly politics.
@Molly Cook Remember, these are the officials who "hard-scaped" the sidewalks to dissuade the homeless.
Yep...I'm proposing a class action suit against the city on behalf of all residents affected by the problem, ordinary people who want to see the homeless sheltered (not against the homeless). The suit would be against the city and its officials for not doing a damn thing for so many years even though funds were available. It's time somebody took some action that might get them off their fat dimes and get these people into safe shelter.
When the best the officials can do is appoint one more czar or one more panel to meet endlessly, it's time for change. Real change.