Homeless in California see handwashing stations arrive at camps amid coronavirus threat

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Although one of the groups in California most vulnerable to the coronavirus is getting some help to prevent its spread, the homeless population continues to face hardships from the pandemic, advocates said.

There are about 151,000 homeless individuals in California, with the Golden State having half of the country’s total street homeless population. The group is particularly susceptible to COVID-19, which is spread through coughing and sneezing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that state and local authorities would be working to move homeless individuals into hotels and motels purchased by the state in recent days and into 450 state-owned trailers.

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In the state capital, Sacramento, more than 5,500 people are homeless on any given night, according to county data.

Handwashing stations were established recently near homeless camps in the city after Crystal Sanchez, president of the Sacramento chapter of the National Homeless Union, began fundraising for them.

Handwashing stations have been delivered to homeless camps around Sacramento amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Handwashing stations have been delivered to homeless camps around Sacramento amid the coronavirus outbreak. (FOX40)

“Some people don’t like washing their hands," Donald Miller, who is homeless, told FOX40. “But me, I like washing mine every day. If I have to, I'll do it all day.”

The handwashing stations began arriving Tuesday and will be replaced once a week as they are restocked with soap, water and paper towels.

The handwashing stations will be replaced once a week as they are restocked with new soap, water, and paper towels.

The handwashing stations will be replaced once a week as they are restocked with new soap, water, and paper towels.

“We have six locations, five in each location,” Sanchez told FOX40.

Miller said that he would help maintain the new sinks so they don't get trashed.

“Because some people, they be doing things they shouldn’t be doing," he said Tuesday. "So I’m going to be making sure it don’t happen.”

Sanchez told FOX40 that the pandemic is creating additional hardships for the homeless population, as fast-food restaurants shutter dining areas and only to-go orders are offered elsewhere.

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“Places like Loaves and Fishes are now closing at noon, so access to food right now is really becoming hard," she told FOX40.

Homeless advocates said since homeless people are running out of places to buy ready-to-eat meals, people should consider helping with food bank donation.

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There were at least 718 cases of coronavirus confirmed in California as of Wednesday morning. One homeless person died in Santa Clara County from the virus on Monday, according to FOX40.

California has urged all people 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to stay indoors as the virus spreads.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that state and local authorities would be working to move homeless individuals into hotels and motels purchased by the state in recent days.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that state and local authorities would be working to move homeless individuals into hotels and motels purchased by the state in recent days. (FOX 40)

The state's 415 hospitals have been planning for a surge of patients. They have about 88,000 beds and Newsom said health officials are running models to determine needs based on various infection rates and resulting hospitalizations. Under worst-case scenarios, California could be short 20,000 beds, he said.

“So we had a very candid and a sober, if not sobering, conversation about where we may be and where we need to go together,” he said after the meeting with hospital officials. “The good news is none of it surprised any of us. We, as a state, working with our system, anticipated much of these needs and have been running plans to address them.”

Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and the Associated Press contributed to this report.