There are approximately 108,000 homeless people across California.
And according to recent models about 60,000 homeless people could be impacted by the current pandemic in the next eight weeks. And then it’s the end…
The catastrophic potential is painful to consider. State models show that 60,000 homeless people could be hit by the novel coronavirus, with up to 20% of them needing hospitalization.
That would mean California would need 12,000 hospital beds just for those living on the streets…
That’s a formidable task for a state that is already struggling to find extra capacity to manage the pandemic before it’s too late and hospitals become overwhelmed by too many patients.
“That creates a deep point of anxiety for the existing population, but moreover for our healthcare delivery system,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday evening.
Homeless the biggest crisis before the epidemic
Now, two catastrophes are colliding with dramatic speed and consequence: the pandemic and more than hundred thousands people living in the streets.
Among those 108,000 people living outdoors in California, many are old, have weakened immune systems and preexisting conditions.
Meanwhile, Newsom and state health officials are dramatically stepping up efforts to curtail what was the state’s biggest crisis before the novel coronavirus hit: tens of thousands of people living in street encampments.
“People experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable to the spread of the Wuhan virus” Newsom said. “Helping these residents is critical to protecting public health, flattening the curve and slowing the spread of the viral disease.”
$150 mio to put homeless indoor
To help accomplish that, Newsom on Wednesday announced $150 million in emergency funding to quickly move homeless people indoors in order to protect both a vulnerable population and a medical system at risk of being overwhelmed.
- $100 million will go directly to local jurisdictions to boost shelter capacity and increase emergency housing.
- $50 million to buy travel trailers and leasing hotels, motels and other facilities in an effort to provide space for those without homes to practice social distancing or for quarantine if they test positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, cities and counties have largely been slow to act. But it’s time now! Because I don’t want to know what effect the pandemic would have on healthcare systems if it expands into the homeless population.
I fear it could travel quickly and fiercely as homeless in encampments live nearby, many are sick and have no place to wash their hands.
With hospitals already overflowed by patients, an outbreak in an homeless encampment would be devastating.