CORONAVIRUS: Could the coronavirus hit California’s homeless population? Health officials are worried.

Could the coronavirus hit California’s homeless population? Health officials are worried.

When a Solano County woman came down with a suspected viral infection and needed treatment, doctors chose to take her to one of the busiest hospitals in Sacramento, not realizing she would become the first person in the nation to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus without a known cause.

The hospital, UC Davis Medical Center, has an emergency room that’s often filled with homeless patients, their immune systems battered from living in encampments along the capital city’s riverbanks and sidewalks.

The potential for an outbreak among that unsheltered population — both in Sacramento and across California — is beginning to concern some public health officials as the coronavirus spreads.

On Thursday, a student at UC Davis’ main campus, about 30 miles from the hospital, was isolated after exhibiting mild symptoms of the virus. On Friday, a second case of unknown origin was diagnosed in Santa Clara County. And on Saturday, a man died of the coronavirus in Washington state, the first fatality in the U.S.

“I was thinking about it when I was in the … shower [on Thursday] morning, literally,” said Peter Beilenson, director of health services for Sacramento County, where preparations for a potential local outbreak began almost immediately after the Solano County woman was diagnosed. “We’ve been checking on the schools and on the nursing homes and on healthcare facilities, etc., and so I was thinking, ‘What about the homeless?’”

Earlier: Coronavirus: scientists identify possible new mode of transmission in human faeces.

  • Genetic traces of the new coronavirus have been found in the stool of patients being treated at a hospital in Shenzhen

  • The findings have prompted researchers to warn of possible faecel-oral spread of the disease, in addition to respiratory droplet transmission and contact

Chinese scientists have found traces of the new coronavirus in the faeces of some infected patients, possibly indicating an additional mode of transmitting the deadly disease.

Health authorities had previously thought the main ways the disease was spread was through respiratory droplet transmission and contact, including touching the face after exposure to a surface containing the virus.

But new findings from Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital raise the possibility of faecel-oral transmission, after researchers found genetic traces of
coronavirus

in patients’ stool samples.

The presence of the 2019 coronavirus RNA, or ribonucleic acid – a molecule that carries genetic codes in some viruses – indicates the disease may live in faeces, the Shenzhen Health Commission said in a statement on Saturday.