Monday, April 13, 2020

San Francisco Government Officials Continue Clueless Homeless Practices During COVID-19 Panic

By Mary L. G. Theroux

Although I stand by my assertion in my previous post that “Death by coronavirus is not the solution to the homeless crisis anyone wants,” the City of San Francisco’s actions are certainly making it seem otherwise.
The homeless, and especially the chronically homeless who comprise most of the people on the streets, are largely male, older, and unhealthy. Living on the streets takes a toll that makes a 50 year-old homeless person more comparable to a 70 year-old non-homeless person. By definition, therefore, this is a highly vulnerable population for whom social distancing guidelines would be especially relevant. Yet at the same time, life on the streets precludes following those guidelines. Homeless encampments, especially in a geographically-constrained city like San Francisco, are closely-packed and lack facilities for basic hygiene, much less hand-washing stations.
The vulnerability of the homeless population has been in the news for weeks, yet the government has yet to devise, much less execute on, any cohesive strategy. The City initially sent a perplexing memo to shelters telling them not to move beds 6′ apart. Now, it’s advised shelters to both keep their residents 6′ apart and not kick anyone out—a mutually-exclusive choice given the tight quarters in most shelters.
Most recently, the City set up a shelter in San Francisco’s Moscone convention center that looks designed to be a coronavirus breeding lab. The taped-off spaces may be 6′ square, but every occupant would have to stay precisely in the middle of one’s square to maintain a 6′ distance—and they are not dealing with a healthy population to start with:

An inside source reported:
“People are given a wristband with their bed number on it and shown to a tiny mat on the floor with a folding chair. There aren’t many people staying here yet, but there are going to be hundreds of people, all breathing each other’s coughs.”
Fortunately, protests erupted before the space could be populated, and the city backed off from using it.
So, it’s back to the hotel option–with the all the questions this raises remaining unaddressed, and the City adding more daily as it dithers over who would be thus housed.
Local residents and philanthropists whose hearts go out to the homeless—or who simply want to help forestall a true pandemic among the vast unhoused population in their midst—would be well advised to quickly seek out private agencies with ready solutions such as the Salvation Army.
The sooner we all wise up and realize that the government’s “handling” of this “crisis” is nothing unusual–this is quite simply the way government always exacerbates every challenge–and withdraw consent for the government to be the “solution-provider,” the better all of our resources can be redirected in truly transforming lives and communities for the better, through private initiative and enterprise: as herehereherehere, and more.
Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute.
The above originally appeared at the Independent Institute.


  1. Here, let me give you-all my "expert" opinion about what the actual COVID-19 mortality rate will be. And given how right my fellow "experts" have been so far in predicting much of anything using their models, my prediction is as likely to be as good as theirs. Ready? Okay, here goes:

    Our mortality rate will end up being between 0.013% and 0.033%.

    How am I coming to this conclusion? Easy.

    We have two concrete sets of data; 1) The Diamond Princess cruise ship number and percentage of deaths among a population of infected people; 2) The Iceland testing program.

    The Icelanders have tested 10% of their population to this point, with fully 50% of the people they've tested coming up as positive. A nearly equal number (46.5%) of people on the Diamond Princess fell into the same category.

    My assumption, based on the known data, is that approximately half of an affected population will be positive, including asymptomatic, symptomatic but self-treatment and no interaction with a physician (meaning unreported) and symptomatic with full physician and medical system involvement. Let's do the math for the lower of the two percentages:

    ONE CAVEAT: Deaths will rise but population won't scale up to match, so we'll some increase in death rate as a result but not too much, given how the number of deaths seem to be declining relative to length of this event.

    U.S. population: 330,000,000
    Infected population (at 50% rate): 165,000,000
    U.S. deaths: 22,018 (April 12, 2019)

    22,018/165,000,000 x 100 = 0.0133% (etc.) death rate

    How about my high figure? Okay:

    U.S. population: 330,000,000
    Infected population (at 20% rate): 66,000,000 (about the UK's population)
    U.S. deaths: 22,018

    22,018/66,000,000 x 100 = 0.0333% (etc.) death rate

    According to the LiveScience(dot)com website, "the death rate from seasonal flu is typically around 0.1% in the U.S."

    COVID-19 (based on my assumptions) death rate: 0.0133% - 0.0333%

    Seasonal influenza death rate: 0.1%

    To be fair, Icelanders are a far more homogeneous population compared to the American population and it's pretty much a given that they're less mobile than we are and that Iceland's population density is far less than ours, at 8 Icelanders per square mile while ours is nearly 93 per square mile.

    Idaho, at 7 people per square mile, has a similar population density, though a far larger population, so I guess we could compare morbidity rates between that state and Iceland. Idaho's had 11 while Iceland has had 7. Hmmm... that might make for a worthwhile analysis. If we were doing widespread testing in the Great Potato State, that is.

    To be even fairer, let's assume -- as did one of the lefty types here with whom I have frequent discussions -- that only 2% of the U.S. population will end up infected. That's a pretty low rate but like I said, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. So....

    U.S. population: 330,000,000
    Infected population (at 2% rate) 6,600,000
    U.S. deaths: 22,018

    22,018/6,600,000 x 100 = 0.333% (etc.) death rate. Influenza death rate. 0.1%

    So every year, we should shut the country down for the flu, right? I mean, that's what we're doing with COVID-19 at an infection rate that's either way below it similar to it? And no, the shutdown didn't create these rates. They would have happened regardless, and we know that because the shutdowns were generally instituted AFTER we started seeing declines or only a couple of days before they began.

    Also: let's not even get into how low the per-capita rates will be at anything from 50% of the population down to just 2% of the population being infected.

    Somebody remind me again why we're going through this exercise? To get ready for the next panic or what?

    1. You missed massive mis-attribution of deaths of people with terminal pre-existing conditions to COVID-19. Divide fatality rate by another factor of 2 or 3.

  2. This is another positive development: