Could the coronavirus hit California’s homeless population? Health officials are worried

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When a Solano County woman came down with a suspected viral infection and needed treatment, doctors chose to take her to one of the busiest hospitals in Sacramento, not realizing she would become the first person in the nation to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus without a known cause.

The hospital, UC Davis Medical Center, has an emergency room that’s often filled with homeless patients, their immune systems battered from living in encampments along the capital city’s riverbanks and sidewalks.

The potential for an outbreak among that unsheltered population — both in Sacramento and across California — is beginning to concern some public health officials as the coronavirus spreads.

On Thursday, a student at UC Davis’ main campus, about 30 miles from the hospital, was isolated after exhibiting mild symptoms of the virus. On Friday, a second case of unknown origin was diagnosed in Santa Clara County. And on Saturday, a man died of the coronavirus in Washington state, the first fatality in the U.S.

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