People line up outside the St. Vincent de Paul Society Multi-Service Center on Fifth Street in early 2019. Two residents at the shelter have been confirmed positive for coronavirus, city officals said on Monday April 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Two test positive at SF homeless shelter in South of Market

Two people staying at a homeless shelter in San Francisco’s South of Market have tested positive for the coronavirus, city officials confirmed Monday.

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing learned Sunday that the guests at MSC South, the largest shelter in The City, tested positive.

Both individuals have since been moved into isolation at a hotel and are in good condition as of Monday morning, according to the department.

The news comes after a guest at a Navigation Center became the first homeless person to test positive for the virus last week.

The latest results prompted city officials to respond with a series of measures including providing additional masks to MSC South and launching a contact investigation to determine who may have had contact with the individuals.

The City is also moving any guest who has symptoms, had close contact with the infected individuals or who is over the age of 60 or has underlying medical conditions into a hotel room. People with symptoms will be tested.

“Expansion of congregate settings and hotel rooms are a key part of The City’s strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19 among high-risk populations,” said Emily Cohen, an interim director with the department, said in a notification to the Board of Supervisors on Monday morning.

Cohen noted that The City has opened a 390-bed shelter at Moscone West to increase social distancing at the other shelters.

But some critics including Supervisor Matt Haney have called on city officials to do more to protect the homeless.

Haney wants The City to move the thousands of homeless people into hotel rooms, even if they are not sick or have had exposure to the virus. He and others are introducing an emergency ordinance on Tuesday requiring at least 1,000 hotel rooms to be used by people experiencing homelessness and staying in congregate settings.

“It’s dangerous and inhumane to leave so many people in crowded shelters or out on the street during this crisis, where it is near impossible for them to keep adequate distance from others and protect themselves from contracting the virus,” Haney said.

Haney added that people with “major mental health needs should stay in more high service and care settings.”

His office moved 17 men from a shelter in the Tenderloin into a hotel over the weekend, he said. The rooms, for people who were staying at Hospitality House, are largely being funded by a $100,000 donation from the United Methodist Church.

Haney is also working to move 36 women, including transgender women, from the nonprofit Community Forward shelter into hotel rooms.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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