California officials are getting pretty worried that the coronavirus could hit the homeless camps in California. A homeless carrier would present peculiar problems for doctors trying to get the disease under control. The homeless lives in tight quarters and do not have easy access to good hygiene They also have a tendency to move around and thus could spread the disease much further than the typical person.
With the huge number of rats in the camps, it makes it even more likely that the disease could spread far and fast. And in cities the size of LA and San Francisco, a huge number of people could be affected.
Peter Beilenson, director of health services for Sacramento County said:
“I was thinking about it when I was in the … shower [on Thursday] morning, literally. We’ve been checking on the schools and on the nursing homes and on healthcare facilities, etc., and so I was thinking, ‘What about the homeless?’”
Beilenson and others said homeless people present unique risks and challenges for outbreaks of infectious diseases. Though the number of coronavirus cases remains at only a few dozen in the United States, homeless people, in particular, for multiple reasons could be vulnerable to both a quick spread of the illness and to more severe cases.
People living outdoors often do so in close quarters and lack the ability to maintain basic hygiene, including precautions such as hand washing. They may also face more danger from serious infection because of existing illnesses or frequent use of drugs or alcohol — factors with the potential to make a case of COVID-19 more severe.
Some homeless people also move often, making them both hard to reach for treatment and potentially increasing the spread of the virus if they are carriers.
“Unfortunately, we know that people living in crowded, unsanitary conditions are at increased risk for a variety of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, professor of medicine and public health at UCLA. “This is definitely a population … with other chronic medical conditions, so should they acquire coronavirus, they are potentially at risk for more serious complications.”