No Minister

When COVID-19 meets a Shit Hole

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And by “shit hole” I don’t mean some poverty-stricken part of the Developing World.

No, I’m talking about those two former jewels in the constellation of great American cities:

Los Angeles
San Francisco

In the last few years the problem of homelessness in these two cities, and other parts of coastal California have exploded. I’ve been intending to do a series on the myriad problems of that One Party state, starting with how the Democrat government – the extremely “Liberal” government – of the State and these cities has actually made the problems of the homeless worse, together with the problems of most everybody else who lives there.

But with the appearance of the coronavirus it’s time to take a look at how it is likely to intereact with the existing homeless problem. The bottom-line: it’s going to be bad.

Below is an interactive map of reported human feces on the streets of San Francisco. It’s based on a smart-phone app that allows people to report where they’ve seen such piles, as a warning to others, and so the city knows where it has to clean up.


And the trend is not their friend, as the graph on the right shows, driven by an estimated 550,000 homeless in the whole state (as of YE 2018). That’s nearly half of all the homeless in America.

But this is not just about conferences being cancelled, tourists heading across the Golden Gate to Sausalito for a taste of what San Francisco was like just thirty years ago (even twenty years ago), or local trust fund babies getting their Berluti’s covered in human shit.

This is starting to have real disease implications, as numerous articles like this one from The Atlantic pointed out last year:

Los Angeles recently experienced an outbreak of typhus—a disease spread by infected fleas on rats and other animals—in downtown streets. Officials briefly closed part of City Hall after reporting that rodents had invaded the building.

And this from 2013:

Public health officials have launched a new, coordinated effort to contain a persistent outbreak of tuberculosis in downtown L.A.’s skid row, including searching for more than 4,500 people who may have been exposed to the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have dispatched scientists to Los Angeles to help local health officials figure out why the disease is spreading and how to stop it.

It’s so bad that even the clueless Democrat governor of the state was forced to address it, although he sounded amazed that such a thing could happen nowadays:

“Our homeless crisis is increasingly becoming a public-health crisis,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in his State of the State speech in February, citing outbreaks of hepatitis A in San Diego County, syphilis in Sonoma County, and typhus in Los Angeles County

“Typhus,” he said. “A medieval disease. In California. In 2019.”

It should not be a surprise. The homeless numbers have had double-digit increases in these cities in the last few years and those people already have weakened immune systems because of drugs, poor hygiene, bad food, and all the other stuff that comes with living on the street. A lot of them are also mentally ill, which makes it tough to get them health care.

You also can forget simple ideas like getting the cops or any government agency to pick them up off the street: decades of legal victories won by the likes of the ACLU and other activist groups have ended that.

At the start of the coronavirus panic there was much brutish talk about “Medieval” actions in dealing with yet another 21st century pandemic. But who needs such new diseases when you’ve already got medieval ones.

The homeless of California will continue to proliferate. So too will the new diseases of the 21st century that reach them, and that means everybody else as well.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 11, 2020 at 10:09 pm

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