15 dead in hepatitis outbreak as San Diego starts street washing

15 dead in hepatitis outbreak as San Diego starts street washing
Sanitary street washing will begin in San Diego where a “fecally contaminated environment” has led to an outbreak of hepatitis A that has killed 15 people and hospitalized 300 others, mostly from the city’s homeless population.

The street power-washing will take place in the downtown area of San Diego on Monday and continue every other week in an effort to combat the outbreak, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office said Friday, according to the Associated Press.

The move by the city to start sanitizing the streets came after San Diego County wrote a letter to the city Thursday. Their letter asked authorities to regularly pressure-wash dirty right-of-way roads with chlorinated water, and gave them five business days to enact policy to remedy the situation.

In an attempt to take quick action last week, San Diego County moved forward with its own contractor, who installed 40 hand-washing stations in areas with large gatherings of homeless people. There are plans to add more stations next week, according to the city’s letter, the San Diego Tribune reported.

So far, 15 people have died and 300 have been hospitalized in relation to the public health crisis. The dire situation is being attributed to a lack of access to restrooms or showers for San Diego’s homeless population.

In addition to the request to wash streets, the county also asked the city to “immediately expand access to public restrooms and wash stations within the city limits that are adjacent to at-risk populations,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

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The mayor’s office response to the county’s letter did not provide anything other than three pages of information on bathroom access around the city that is already open to the public.

On Friday evening it was still not clear whether the county considered the city’s response adequate. Michael Workman, the county communications director, said in an email that the city’s response was “being reviewed and evaluated,” the Los Angeles Times reported.