Drug bust at San Francisco hotel prompts new coronavirus safety measures

The city of San Francisco is revising its health and safety protocols at facilities that house homeless people.
(Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)

The city of San Francisco is revising its health and safety protocols at facilities housing homeless people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 or are in need of quarantine after police arrested two people suspected of manufacturing and selling drugs at one of its sites.

San Francisco police responded Saturday afternoon to a hotel in the 300 block of 9th Street after a strong chemical odor was detected from a guest room.

The scene was contained, but further investigation led officers to discover narcotics in a guest room. Two adults were arrested on suspicion of possessing and manufacturing the substances, believed to include methamphetamine and heroin.


“The incident is currently under investigation by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the San Francisco Police Department,” Officer Robert Rueca, a police spokesman, said Thursday.

The city has issued new guidance for its housing program to include visual wellness checks that require guests to open their doors to staff and updated room inspections. The policy also calls for the expulsion of anyone linked to the manufacture or distribution of certain narcotics.

“The health and safety of alternative housing program guests and staff are paramount for the city and county of San Francisco. We will regularly review and adjust policy, protocols and operations to ensure the well-being of guests and staff,” said Joseph Sweiss of the city’s joint information center.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal was to lease 15,000 hotel rooms to house homeless people vulnerable to the coronavirus. But only half are occupied, records show.

May 19, 2020

San Francisco announced in March that it would provide temporary housing and quarantine locations to those who have tested positive for the coronavirus and do not need to be hospitalized, as well as individuals who have been exposed to the virus and don’t have access to proper shelter “due to homelessness or shared living arrangements.”

“Our top priority is public health and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Mayor London Breed said at the time. “Not everyone in our city has access to housing where they can go if they are infected or are exposed to the virus, and it’s important that we take measures like this to care for our most vulnerable residents, including people who are homeless.”

San Francisco County has reported 63 coronavirus-related deaths and 7,228 cases.