San Francisco public health officials are reporting an alarming increase in the number of homeless people who died this spring but said the increase is not directly caused by COVID-19.
Instead, they said the deaths are more likely due to overdoses from fentanyl and indirect impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health reported Tuesday that 48 people experiencing homelessness died between March 30 and May 24. That’s up from 14 during the same time period in 2019.
In a May 26 statement, officials noted that while at least two people tested positive for COVID-19 near the time of their death, the virus was not the likely reason, and it will take several months to confirm the actual cause.
Dr. Barry Zevin, medical director of street medicine and shelter health for the Department of Public Health, told KQED that it’s more likely the deaths reflect a trend of increasing fatal drug overdoses.