At least 24 people at a single room occupancy hotel in San Francisco's Mission District have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Dolores Street Community Services, which manages the building.
The COVID-19 positive cases at Casa Quezada, a 52-unit supportive housing site, include 22 residents and two staff members.
Many of the residents are monolingual Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited access to other forms of subsidized housing. Additionally, the majority of residents also have underlying health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or heart or pulmonary conditions, which make them more vulnerable to the virus.
Because residents at SRO hotels and other congregate-type housing sites have limited options for self-isolating, DSCS called for the affected residents to be moved into rooms for isolation. Then on Thursday, all residents, including 17 who tested negative, were moved by city officials into hotel rooms.
Since DSCS learned about the first COVID-19 positive case at Casa Quezada on April 13, it has called on the city's Department of Public Health and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to conduct widespread testing at the facility. Residents and staff weren't tested by DPH, however, until six days later on April 19, resulting in a total of 24 COVID-19 positive cases, DSCS officials said.
"Every step of the way, knowing the risk factors influencing COVID-19 transmission, our staff have had to arduously advocate for testing, contact screening and access to isolation and quarantine rooms for our residents. We regret that the testing did not happen sooner. In order to flatten the curve, we need to make sure DPH is properly resourced to prevent and respond to outbreaks in SRO's," DSCS Executive Director Laura Valdez said in a statement.
"As an organization fighting for racial equity and justice we are not surprised that the historical and generational structural inequities impacting the Latinx community would place their health, safety and economic well-being at great risk. It would be shameful to let this moment pass without any structural reform that brings about long-term solutions for our community's most pressing issues," she said.
DSCS is demanding that DPH and HSH begin widespread testing on all people living on the streets and in shelters, SRO residents, people with underlying health conditions, formerly homeless people and all essential service workers.
DSCS is also calling for the city to increase its contact tracing and mapping of high-risk people, particularly those who live in the streets or in congregate settings. Additionally, it's calling on the city to provide patients with language access and culturally competent information.