Earlier this month, Caddo Parish Commissioner Mario Chavez, a Republican for District 10, expressed interest in placing public bathrooms outside the courthouse.

The idea has been met with a mix of criticism and support.

On a Facebook comment thread on the popular Broadmoor Neighbors in Shreveport page, citizens on both sides of the issue have expressed their opinions.

Some feel that by placing public restrooms outside the courthouse homeless will be drawn to the area.

Others see the inclusion of public toilets as a crucial public health protection measure.

One community in California has discovered too late the need for public bathrooms. According to San Diego County Government officials, the County declared a local public health emergency on September 1st, 2017 as the result of an increase in the number of Hepatitis A cases.

According to San Diego County Public Health officials, there have been 516 cases of hepatitis A, with 357 hospitalizations and 19 deaths. The County’s website states that “The outbreak is being spread person-to-person and through contact with fecally contaminated environments.”

Fecally contaminated environments occur when there is not adequate access to public restrooms for the homeless population.

In an LA Times report, experts testified in front of four grand juries “Explicitly warned that an outbreak of illness caused by such unsanitary conditions could result in liability to the city.”

Unfortunately, for places such as San Diego, the focus is now on containment and treatment instead of prevention.

The Caddo Parish Commision has tabled the decision for the time being. Some commissioners felt that the Parish has too many other issues to tackle before public bathrooms could be decided on.

Hopefully, Caddo Parish won’t find itself in the same situation as San Diego County, working to end an outbreak instead of preventing one.