Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

San Diego begins sanitary street washing to combat hepatitis A outbreak

San Diego begins sanitary street washing to combat hepatitis A outbreak

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is expected to make a "major announcement" Wednesday morning regarding the city of San Diego's ongoing homelessness issue - hours before a proposal to declare an emergency in the city over a deadly outbreak of hepatitis A is scheduled to go before the City Council's Select Committee on Homelessness.

The county also installed 40 hand-washing stations in areas where homeless people tend to gather.

"By disinfecting our sidewalks and making additional public restrooms available 24/7, we're following the direction of County health officials to address the unsanitary conditions that have helped fuel this outbreak", San Diego mayoral spokeswoman Craig Gustafson said on Monday. Hepatitis A, which attacks the liver, has had a heavy impact on the homeless. There were 5,619 people reported homeless in San Diego earlier this year, 3,231 of whom were living on the streets without shelter, according to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. To do so, San Diego will be power washing its streets with bleach, to "hopefully remove all feces, blood, bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces", according to a sanitation plan report. "Offering more clean and safe spaces that transition the homeless from living on the streets to living in a permanent home is exactly what San Diego needs right now".

"Frankly we can't take any more time worrying what group will be offended, lives are on the line, we need to take action", the mayor said.

"We're probably going to be doing them every other Monday, see how that works out at least for the time being", Jose Ysea, a city spokesman, was reported as saying.

The county declared a local public health emergency on September 1, enhancing an ongoing vaccination campaign with the installation of hand-washing stations in locations where homeless residents, who have been hit hardest by the outbreak, gather. The city of San Diego said it would keep 14 restrooms open 24 hours a day in Balboa Park, where numerous city's homeless stay, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. In January, 5,619 transients were counted, a 10 percent increase from a year ago.

The virus outbreak has affected San Diegans since November 2016, but not only the homeless.

Since March, about 19,000 people have been vaccinated. In addition, another small business owner in San Diego named Jamie Miller, who was also shocked when he knew about the outbreak, told NBC 7 that "It sounds like a insane thing to have on the streets in a first world city".

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