Cue the conservative Twitter pitchforks! The San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed that it is trying to meet homeless addicts "where they are" when they are being put up in hotels as part of COVID mitigation measures — and that means giving alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and methadone to those who need it.
Twitterer T Wolf called out this practice on Twitter last week, calling it "enabling and... wrong on many levels," and DPH responded that these are harm reduction practices for those in quarantine, not paid for by taxpayers, and are "not unique to San Francisco." But that of course didn't stop the anti-liberal Twitter rage.
These harm reduction based practices, which are not unique to San Francisco, and are not paid for with taxpayer money, help guests successfully complete isolation and quarantine and have significant individual and public health benefits in the COVID-19 pandemic.— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) May 5, 2020
As ABC 7 reports, SF health officer Dr. Grant Colfax has defended the practice, explaining, "Our behavioral health experts are offering services every day, medication assisted treatment including nicotine and opiate replacement, behavioral health counseling and in cases where people decide that they are going to continue to use, our focus is using the best evidence to help people manage their addictions."
He clarifies that there is no "safe injection" or distribution of illegal drugs going on. Quarantined individuals have been assisted in getting medical cannabis, and they've been given alcohol and nicotine as requested.
And as DPH said in a statement, "Managed alcohol and tobacco use makes it possible to increase the number of guests who stay in isolation and quarantine and, notably, protects the health of people who might otherwise need hospital care for life-threatening alcohol withdrawal."
The substances that are being given to those in quarantine with admitted dependencies are reportedly being paid for through private funding.
And SFPD Chief William Scott says to ABC 7 that his department is continuing to enforce drug laws in the Tenderloin, including cracking down on dealers who are distributing to people in tent encampments — like this guy, allegedly.
The city is now publishing data about "alternative housing" occupancy, including how many vulnerably homeless and COVID-positive individuals with inadequate isolation space of their own have already been housed in hotel rooms. Currently almost 1,000 homeless people have been housed, with several hundred rooms prepared and not yet occupied.