What social distancing? Inside San Francisco’s overcrowded tent city where 8,000 homeless people live in dire conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic as one shelter sees 90 infections
- Images from Monday show groups gathering to drink and smoke in the streets of San Francisco
- People were seen inside camps with tents in close proximity as California prepared to see a spike in coronavirus numbers
- Signs in area encourage people to wash their hands regularly with soap and water but it was evident the displaced did not have easy access
- The city has acquired 2,000 hotel rooms. It has moved nearly 200 vulnerable people, including the homeless
- But one shelter has seen an outbreak and the mayor has been blasted for her handling of the pandemic
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Homeless people on the streets of San Francisco have been pictured gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Images show how the communities on the city’s Tenderloin Street are struggling to social distance after the COVID-19 outbreak, with many tents crowded together in spots and people even grouping together to drink and take drugs as California expects a spike in infection rate.
On Monday, displaced people of the Bay Area were seen congregating outside the Empress Hotel drinking and chatting despite the deadly virus having infected 987 people in the city and killed 15.
As a body was loaded into a white van, one man yelled: ‘There goes that coronavirus!’
A homeless man peers out of his tent with the words ‘D’s tent please don’t take’ written, on the streets of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, California
Two people embrace on the streets of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, California despite self-isolating advisories
A homeless man lays on the sidewalk in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, California on Monday as the city is told to isolate
Homeless people pass a cigarette while doing drugs on the streets of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco
Through the area, street advertisements tell people to stay home and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds but for homeless it’s not so simple.
After last week, the city scrapped plans to turn part of its convention center into a shelter with nearly 400 beds for homeless people, saying the set-up was too crowded, several people were seen resting on a statue outside City Hall Monday.
The Tenderloin neighborhood has 30,000 residents. As other people walked by groups of vagrants wearing face masks, those without access to permanent shelter or protective equipment were seen grappling with their clothing and belongings.
Groups such as Faithful Fools and the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness have been handing out protective gear.
But many appeared to have a hard time keeping their skin clean at a time when hygiene is absolutely necessary to slow the spread and help hospitals keep up with the demand.
The city has acquired 2,000 hotel rooms. It has moved nearly 200 vulnerable people, including the homeless, into the rooms.
Homeless people congregate on the streets of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, California
A homeless man peers out of his tent on the streets as the displaced struggle to adhere to social distancing guidelines
A homeless woman stands on Golden Gate as people walk through the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, California. Tents are seen close together
San Francisco Mayor London Reed has been blasted after an outbreak at MSC South shelter reached 82 residents and 10 staff over the weekend, KTVU reports. But she previously explained about their delay in getting homeless people to a safe shelter: ‘We don´t have the ability to force anyone to stay anywhere.’
There have now been suggestions to turn the shelter into a treatment facility.
‘I don’t feel safe out here at all, but where am I going to go?’ homeless Angelica Morgan, 30, told the San Francisco Chronicle. ‘There are people out here coughing, all nasty and unsanitary, and don’t care about putting masks over their faces. The cops tell us we’re safer inside our tents if there’s people around, but can I stay in there all day? No.’
One man said even having a tent doesn’t necessarily help with social distancing.
‘I wish to God they’d put me inside,’ Jeff Reaves, 58, said. ‘But someone always comes and puts one next to me, and we argue and fight, but that’s just the way it is.’
‘It’s never safe out here anyway, but now?’ He snorted. ‘Forget about it.’
Activist Del Seymour, who once was homeless, said it will be difficult getting displaced people to stay apart.
‘When you’re on the street, it’s a necessity to be together, and you can’t get around it,’ he said. ‘It’s our need for each other. You can’t avoid going into the next tent or turning to the person next to you. You need a cigarette, you need a beer, you need to text — it’s constant. You have no other outlets in the Tenderloin. Social distancing — that ain’t gonna work here.
‘The best thing I can think of is putting people who are most at risk into hotels.’
A woman wearing a mask and gloves (left) walks by a football mural in San Francisco, California
A man wears a gas mask while walking through the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, California
City Hall is seen from above in San Francisco, California. Last week, the city scrapped plans to turn part of its convention center into a shelter with nearly 400 beds for homeless people, saying the set-up was too crowded
‘Stay home’, left, and right, a sign cautioning about coronavirus in San Francisco, California. It states: ‘Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 sec’
A sign about coronavirus showing medical workers in San Francisco, California reads: ‘Not all superheroes wear capes #AllInThisTogether’
Above shows the number of coronavirus deaths and cases in the US as of Tuesday morning
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