The good thing is that the outbreak never spread to more than a few dozen people.
But nearly two weeks after staff and residents at San Diego’s newest homeless camping area contracted diarrhea, public health investigators are calling off their work at the O Lot without clear answers.
“Because no pathogen has been identified, the definition of the outbreak cannot be established,” San Diego County spokesman Tim McClain wrote in an email.
In other words: the cause remains a mystery.
McClain reiterated that the likely culprit was someone spreading what they had to others, not spoiled food.
The city now plans to resume work with catering company Rowe Solutions Inc. next week after putting that contract on hold out of “an abundance of caution,” according to San Diego spokesman Matt Hoffman.
That organization’s founder and CEO, Frank Rowe, said he was never cited for a health violation.
The illness began on Jan. 15 and lasted about five days, McClain said. Those affected include about 30 residents and 5 staff, one more than previously known.
Officials said the number did not increase even after stool sample tests were distributed. Furthermore, the symptoms did not appear to be the result of COVID-19.
No one was hospitalized and the nonprofit in charge of Dreams for Change said everyone in the city has recovered, according to Hoffman.
O LOT is also run by the Downtown San Diego Partnership. The site opened in October and recently hosted about 370 residents in hundreds of two-person tents.
McClain said no outbreaks have been identified at the city’s other camping area, 20th and B streets.
McClain said COVID-19 testing is “readily available” at the sites.
San Diego has invested heavily in legal camping as the county grapples with a shortage of shelter beds and people increasingly experiencing homelessness.