SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco is among the cities grappling with how to house and help the homeless to isolate in the middle of a pandemic. Some are calling for the city's homeless to all be moved into hotels, but Mayor London Breed is saying at this point that's an impractical solution.
The coronavirus outbreak at the city's Multi-Service Center South homeless shelter grew by about 20 cases over the weekend with 92 people, 82 residents and 10 staff members, now testing positive.
Over the weekend crews worked round the clock to move the residents at that facility into hotels.
"Scott Walton from our department and St. Vincent De Paul our long term steadfast partner, worked through the night," said Abigail Stewart-Kahn from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. "With the Department of Public Health and all of our colleagues working at hotels to receive individuals from MSC South."
Advocates for the homeless say it's all too little too late. They protested outside the city's Emergency Operations Center. They say that for close to a month they've been pushing to place the homeless in hotels.
The city confirming there has been one case of COVID-19 at the Division Circle Navigation Center and one case at the Hamilton Family Center which specializes in housing families.
Jennifer Friedenbach from the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness says coronavirus threatens all of the various types of people experiencing homelessness, and keeping them in shelters increases their risk.
"Now we're coming back and saying, look, you need to move everyone into that is in these congregate environments into hotels and you need to do it quickly," said Friedenbach.
Mayor Breed said many of the city's homeless have been placed in situations where they can self isolate, but also said it's not a easy as simply moving people into hotels.
Meals have to be provided, she said, and staff needs to be mobilized to be accessible 24 hours a day. "It has not been easy, it has not been easy to provide adequate staff," said Mayor Breed. "It's been very challenging get even some of the residents who are part of our shelter system in our hotels to comply with the order to even wear masks. So, it's not as simple as what people would like to think."
The city says 750 homeless are now in isolation across the city, with between 100 and 200 in the process of being moved into a situation where they can isolate and wait out the corona virus pandemic.