70 test positive for coronavirus at San Francisco homeless shelter

San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Seventy residents and staff of a homeless shelter in San Francisco have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Mayor London Breed announced Friday.

“We were prepared for this, and we are managing this situation,” Breed said.

The city will re-route medical personnel to address the outbreak, she said.

The homeless shelter is one of the city’s largest. Breed said city officials were aware that homeless shelters and other congregant living situations, such as single-room occupancy hotels, could be locations where the virus could spread quickly.

“We knew that those had the potential of being hot spots,” she said.

“This virus can take off quickly, and we are prepared to provide an aggressive response,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s public health director.


Officials said one former resident of the shelter has been hospitalized.

“I would like to assure San Franciscans that it doesn’t mean a significantly greater risk to the general public,” Colfax said. “However, it is a very serious matter.”

The city continues to have bed capacity at its hospitals. About one-third of COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units, officials said.

The city has spent $35 million to lease hotel rooms for first responders and vulnerable populations, including the homeless.

Of the 1,892 rooms leased, 880 are for first responders, including healthcare workers, and 1,012 are for homeless people and those who live in congregant settings.

As homeless shelters are reducing intake to prevent the spread of the illness, the city is trying to move more homeless into the hotel rooms, officials said.

As part of the announcements, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said the city has been experiencing some burglaries at shuttered businesses, and police will be “out there in force” to protect them. He said police will also patrol parks this weekend to ensure that people are social distancing.


The city also announced that it has established a 911 text for victims of domestic violence who may be unable to call police safely.