County urges for more public restrooms to contain Hepatitis A spread among homeless

SAN DIEGO — County health officials are urging the City of San Diego to improve sanitation efforts as Hepatitis A cases among the homeless rise.

City crews are expected to install more public restrooms.

The county has identified 13 locations it says needs public restrooms to get ahead of a potential Hepatitis A outbreak.

For homeless people across San Diego, a place to use the bathroom is hard to find.

“Portapotties, there’s like two places to go to the bathroom,” said Michael Shulters, who is experiencing homelessness. “You go to the bathroom. You have to go to the bathroom outside. That’s a problem.”

But with cases of Hepatitis A on the rise, county health officials are raising the alarm over improving sanitation for the homeless population. So far this year, 28 cases have been reported — 18 of them among the homeless.

“I don’t want to see any outbreaks of any sort of any disease down here,” downtown resident Rudy Magdolen said.

Now, county health officials are urging the city to install 13 public restrooms to contain the spread. They don’t want to see a repeat of the Hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless back in 2017.

“Although this doesn’t meet the technical criteria of an outbreak, we are treating it like one. Public health is first and foremost in the prevention businesses,” said County of San Diego Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. “While most of the Hepatitis A cases so far have been downtown, we go where the disease is likely to strike next.”