The recent outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus has been a hot topic of late, but the Draconian measures instituted by the Chinese Government and the steps being taken worldwide appear to be having the desired effect. Hopefully, in spite of all the hysteria, it will eventually prove no bigger problem than regular influenza.
While no one could reasonably have predicted the current outbreak, there is another potentially far more serious outbreak waiting to happen in the United States, San Francisco in particular. At the turn of the Twentieth Century there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in the city. That was understandable then. Communicable diseases remained a problem in the West well into the Twentieth Century; there were typhus epidemics during the Second World War, and even today when large scale natural disasters occur, the contamination of drinking water, burst sewer pipes, and people living in unsanitary conditions, can give rise to serious if somewhat local outbreaks.
But why should an outbreak of plague occur in modern San Francisco? The short answer is homelessness. California, in particular San Francisco, has a massive homeless population which has been increasing over the past few years. The figures given on the official website are almost certainly gross underestimates. Homeless people tend to suffer more health problems than the rest of us, something that needs no explaining, but with the homeless of San Francisco there is an even bigger problem, namely that they tend to use the city streets indiscriminately for…well, let’s just say there is an infamous interactive map that plots human waste in the city.
Apart from the obvious, there are other forms of human waste, in particular needles and general garbage. While the affluent live in gated communities or behind high walls, the situation for ordinary people, including young families, is very different. According to a Forbes report last August, in 2008, there were 13 cases of typhus in California. By 2018, this had increased to 167, and similar increases were reported for other diseases. People who know about these things have been warning for some time of the return of “Mediaeval diseases” to California. Should the worse thing happen, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego are likely to be the first hit. So what is to be done?
In the short term, the problem of using the streets as an open sewer can be solved very easily. It would take little in the way of finance to supply hundreds of portable toilets and a few dozen washrooms in the most affected areas. The authorities, in particular the police, need to clamp down hard on offenders. Fining people who have no money is not very intelligent, but if an offender had to spend two or three days in a police cell, staring at its walls, he would very likely not offend again.
Longer term though, these people must be moved off the city streets, if only into stopgap hostels, or failing that to somewhere off the beaten track out of harm’s way. The ACLU and other “civil libertarians” are likely to scream blue murder over this, but individual rights stop where they infringe on the rights of other people. Phony rights like being protected from “hate speech” are a poor third to being infected by someone who is in effect wilfully spreading diseases.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.