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Coronavirus and the U.S. homeless. Not a very good combination. It is what horror movie-plots sound like, except this script hasn’t been written, even though the writing is on the wall, smeared in covid-19 infected feces.
The thought had occurred to me that the real threat of the Corona Virus in America may be exacerbated by another social ill, homelessness in 4 of the largest cities on the West coast, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, 3 of which are major destinations for Chinese travelers.
Consider the following threats:
1) The homeless can act as a carrier for two to three weeks without showing any signs of the the flu, meanwhile acting as a “super-spreader,” infecting other homeless and the general public in highly populated areas.
2) There is no cure and the mortality rate is probably above 3%. Infection rate is 20%, meaning for every ten people you have contact with, 2 of them will get the virus from you if you touch them, share an object (like cash or food), or they breathe your air and are within 2-3 feet of you.
3) There is no cure, detection is extremely difficult, costly and not easily accessible.
4) WHO and the CDC say a vaccination is at least a year away.
Many of us who are watching the virus spread assume that with only 15 cases in the U.S, as of today (2/24), China clearly is more vulnerable because of condensed living conditions. But how do you contain a virus if you don’t know you have it, can easily give it to anyone and there is no easy access to testing?
Let’s look again at how the homeless in LA, SF and Seattle could exacerbate the problem.
According to Acton Institute, which collects homeless population data from across the country, about 200,000 homeless live in California alone (47% of all U.S. homeless live in the Golden State). Most of these homeless are undernourished, have little access to proper health care, and if suffering from severe substance abuse, would not fair well if they contracted COVID-19.
San Francisco already has a feces problem. What if COVID-19 is spread by feces-laced streets of downtown San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose?
One of the virus’ symptoms is diarrhea, the other is pneumonia. Most homeless smoke cigarettes and probably suffer from COPD-related health issues.
All of this makes for a nasty combination of social diseases spreading a mysterious virus to the general population of several million people. Add to this we are supposed to have an especially longer and wetter winter. For the West Coast, we may not see warm and sunny weather until late March, still six weeks away.
This is a wake up call to ALL civic leaders throughout California, and also Seattle and Portland, and even to New York. Any metro where there is a high concentration of homelessness as well as travelers who have returned from China (or the Hubei province) since mid-December. We should prepare for a worst case scenario and start coordinating quarantine centers NOW or face an epidemic that could do to California and elsewhere what COVID-19 is now doing to China.
Wuhan has 11-million people. 6, 000 have died in less than two months from COVID-19. What impact would this kind of mortality rate have on the U.S.? And these deaths have occured in spite of a massive lockdown (there were even videos showing apartment building residents in Wuhan being locked in with workers welding exit doors shut, and in other cases suspected infectious patients being dragged out of their home by local authorities.).
Americans aren’t Chinese, and we don’t take kindly to being rounded up by force as we now see occurring throughout China to stem the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to HUD here is a breakdown of homelessness and those “unsheltered” in major hotspots of homelessness:
Total U.S. Homeless in January 2018: 372,417
New York: 39, 827
Once COVID-19 breaches the homeless population, all bets are off.