Homeless Deaths Rise in San Francisco During Lockdown, But Not Due to Coronavirus

A homeless man sleeps in front of his tent along Van Ness Avenue in downtown San Francisco, California on June, 27, 2016. Homelessness is on the rise in the city irking residents and bringing the problem under a spotlight. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH …
JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

Deaths have soared among the homeless population in San Francisco during the coronavirus, but not due to the virus directly.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday: “Forty-eight homeless people — an average of six per week — died in San Francisco between March 30 and May 24, according to Dr. Barry Zevin, director of the Department of Public Health’s Street Medicine Team. For comparison, 14 people died in the same time period last year.”

The causes, pending official confirmation, may have more to do with the lockdown than the coronavirus itself, as many homeless people had less access to medical services and other needs.

An even more important factor may simply have been drug overdoses, as there was an “explosion of fentanyl on San Francisco’s streets” over the past two years, the Chronicle notes.

San Francisco, like other cities in California, initially sought to move homeless people indoors to avoid the coronavirus. But as evidence emerged that the virus was more easily spread among people sharing space indoors, the city began encouraging people to stay outside, where they could practice “social distancing” more easily.

The Chronicle notes: “The number of tents and makeshift structures throughout the Tenderloin neighborhood exploded by 285% between January and May, according to city data. The city as a whole saw a 71% increase in tents and structures during that period.”

In Los Angeles, officials recently reversed a policy of moving homeless people indoors to recreation centers in residential areas. The policy had faced local opposition, especially as it appeared to conflict with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

San Francisco also opened its first officially-sanctioned homeless camp near City Hall earlier this week, with tents spaced widely.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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