Omicron outbreaks have hit several homeless shelters in the Bay Area, including two in SF

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Two years after the start of this pandemic, the Bay Area is facing a new crisis involving the homeless and COVID-19. San Francisco and other Bay Area cities are experiencing COVID outbreaks at homeless shelters, and with the hotels that were used for homeless housing now largely full, cities will have a dilemma major in finding places where infected people can isolate themselves.

An outbreak at SF’s Circle Navigation Center Division, which is operated by the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, was first reported last week by KRON4 and Mission Local and is believed to have affected at least 50 people. Now, as reported by KPIX, we know that approximately that number of residents as well as three members of the Navigation Center staff have tested positive, and there has been a mirror outbreak at another shelter run by St. Vincent de Paul. , MSC South – aka the South Multi-Service Center on Fifth Street, which was the site of a major outbreak at the start of the pandemic.

At MSC South, 17 residents and nine staff members have reportedly tested positive.

A representative from Saint-Vincent de Paul told KPIX that these twin epidemics also had them “by surprise”, due to their simultaneity.

The latest outbreaks at these two SF shelters come as other outbreaks, spurred by the highly infectious variant of Omicron, are reported at three homeless shelters in Santa Clara County. As Mercury News reports, 20 to 30 cases of COVID have occurred at the three shelters, Julian Street Inn, Georgia Travis House, and Boccardo Reception Center. Boccardo is the county’s largest refuge and was the site of an outbreak of 55 people in December 2020.

Saint Vincent de Paul tells KPIX it is working with the city of San Francisco to find quarantine places for infected homeless people – although designated hotels have largely reverted to hotels or have been converted in transitional housing and are largely full. At the height of the pandemic, the city was managing up to 538 hotel rooms in isolation and quarantine, and that program ended on June 30, 2021.

“There is no doubt that this is another reminder of the dangers of homelessness and the challenges,” Dr Margot Kushel, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, told the Mercury News about epidemics. . “It will now be, I fear, almost impossible to follow. It will be almost impossible to prevent massive epidemics in the places of assembly.”

Related: City plans to buy 114-room Fillmore District hotel to house former homeless people

Photo: City of San Francisco Department of Homeless and Supportive Housing

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