San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter has been hit with a coronavirus outbreak, with 70 confirmed cases
  • San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter has been hit with a coronavirus outbreak, with 68 homeless residents having tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Two staff employees have also tested positive at the shelter, the Multi-Service Center South, for 70 confirmed cases total.
  • MSC South will now be turned into a medical facility.
  • The news comes as the city continues to address how best to house and protect its sizable homeless community during the viral outbreak.
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San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter has been hit with a coronavirus outbreak, with 70 people testing positive for the disease, known as COVID-19.

As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John King reports, 68 homeless residents staying at the Multi-Service Center South in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood have tested positive for COVID-19. Two staff employees have as well.

On Wednesday, everyone in the shelter was tested for the disease. The center can typically accommodate 340 guests overnight, but at the time hosted fewer than 150 people, about half of whom ended up testing positive for the disease.

As a result, the shelter will be turned into a medical center, and the residents who tested negative will be relocated somewhere else.

“We are going to reroute our medical health experts, our nurses and other health support to this facility,” Mayor London Breed said at a Friday press conference according to the Chronicle.

The news comes as the number of confirmed cases in the city hits 797, with 13 reported deaths. 

An ongoing challenge for city leaders has been how to house and protect members of the city’s homeless community. There were already at least three confirmed cases among homeless residents staying at shelters in the city.

Plans have been introduced to create temporary shelters, including a conversion of the city’s Moscone Center event space, to free up room in homeless shelters across the city for healthier social distancing practices for residents. 

Most recently, a proposed emergency measure would require the city to find and rent more than 7,000 hotel rooms to house the entire homeless population. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposal next Tuesday. If it passes, the estimated cost of renting the 7,000 hotel rooms for 90 days would be $105 million.

Housing the homeless community could also help prevent a coronavirus outbreak among its members. An outbreak in the homeless community could overwhelm the healthcare system and hinder the city’s long-time goal of “flattening the curve” amid the pandemic.

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