A deadly hepatitis A outbreak has San Diego scrambling to scrub its dirty downtown streets

YouTube screenshot -- San Diego declares state of emergency after hepatitis A outbreak kills 15.

San Diego’s deadly outbreak of hepatitis A is forcing the city to wash its streets, according to the Los Angeles Times.

San Diego County ordered the city to begin a specific sanitation plan to combat the spread of the disease. In a letter to the city, the county described the downtown area as a “fecally contaminated environment,” the LA Times reported. The county also plans to expand its efforts to other cities.

Earlier this month, county officials declared a public health emergency over the outbreak, which has killed 15 people and hospitalized hundreds more since November 2016, many of whom are homeless and lack access to bathrooms and showers.

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The county’s plan calls for the city to regularly pressure-wash dirty streets with a chlorine solution and to “immediately expand access to public restrooms and wash stations within the city limits that are adjacent to at-risk populations,” according to the LA Times.

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The cleaning started Monday in an area that included sidewalks around 17th Street and Imperial Avenue, where hundreds of homeless people congregate and live in tents and other shelters along city streets, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Cleanings are scheduled for other city locations on Wednesday and Friday and will repeat every other week. The county also installed 40 hand-washing stations in areas where homeless people tend to gather.

“By disinfecting our sidewalks and making additional public restrooms available 24/7, we’re following the direction of County health officials to address the unsanitary conditions that have helped fuel this outbreak,” said Craig Gustafson, senior director of communications for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “We’re taking swift action to eradicate this virus from our streets and keep our most vulnerable residents safe.”

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