San Francisco is setting up 15 public toilets and handwashing stations to protect the city's homeless population amid the coronavirus outbreak

san francisco city hand washing stations coronavirus

Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A portable hand washing station is made available to homeless residents of San Francisco, United States on March 18,2020.

  • San Francisco is setting up public toilets and handwashing stations to help protect its homeless residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The stations will be rolled out in 15 locations with high concentrations of vulnerable populations, suc as the Tenderloin neighborhood.
  • The measure is one of the many taken by the city to address how the disease is affecting its homeless community.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

San Francisco is rolling out public toilets and handwashing stations in a bid to protect its most vulnerable residents living on the streets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a press release posted by the Office of Mayor London Breed on Tuesday, the toilets and stations will be set up in parts of the city with high concentrations of unhoused people and other vulnerable populations. The locations include the Tenderloin, SoMa, Bayview, Castro, and Mission districts.Advertisement

"These safe and clean public bathrooms and hand-washing stations will be available for anybody to use, and we are placing them in areas where we know our unhoused residents and other vulnerable populations gather," Breed said in the press release. "These facilities provide another crucial component in San Francisco's response to the COVID-19 public health emergency."

They will be open 24 hours a day, will have toilet paper, soap, and paper towels stocked, and will be staffed by attendants from the nonprofit Urban Alchemy thanks to a grant issued by the city. The organization already works in keeping toilets part of the Pit Stop public restroom program staffed.

The first five stations will roll out on Wednesday with the rest rolling out by next week.
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The measure is one of many that the city of San Francisco has taken to address the impact of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, on the homeless community.

In early March, the city rolled out a first wave of handwashing stations to help encourage personal hygiene for the general public, as well as those living on the streets.Most recently, the city announced it was focusing more heavily on hundreds of unoccupied hotel rooms as a means to temporarily house homeless residents, as well as first responders and healthcare workers. The city's travel and tourism industries have been slammed amid the coronavirus pandemic, rendering hotel rooms empty throughout San Francisco.Advertisement

The city's Moscone convention center is being used to shelter homeless residents who are exiting self-isolation and have tested negative for the disease. It was initially slated to house up to 400 people, but after backlash over the camp-like living conditions planned for the facilities, the city scaled back how the venue would be utilized.

The plan to house homeless residents in hotels does not include those living on the streets, only those in existing shelters. Some officials argue that the thousands of empty hotel rooms in the city should be used to house the entire homeless population in the city regardless of the need for self-isolation.

But Mayor London Breed said despite the pandemic, there are limits to how officials can house people.Advertisement

"We are not going to be able to solve our homeless problem in San Francisco with this crisis," Breed said Friday.

The first confirmed case within a San Francisco homeless shelter was announced on Thursday. And two more homeless people housed at San Francisco's largest shelter were confirmed to be infected with the virus on Monday.

There are currently 622 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the city, with nine reported deaths. The city is gearing up for an expected surge in cases in the coming weeks, but some experts are saying that early measures taken to enforce social distancing in March are paying off and "flattening the curve," or quelling the spread of the virus as much as possible so the healthcare system can adequately treat patients.Advertisement

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