San Diego's Hepatitis A Coordination Center Meeting Less Often

Friday, November 3, 2017
By Matt Hoffman
Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS
Above: City of San Diego's hepatitis A Coordination Center meets inside a conference room at City Hall downtown, Nov. 2, 2017.

As the local hepatitis A outbreak continues to grow, the city of San Diego is meeting less often to review the crisis.

Starting this week, the city said its hepatitis A Coordination Center will no longer meet on a daily basis.

In an email to KPBS, a city spokeswoman said: “after almost two months of daily Coordination Center meetings, it was determined this week that city operations related to the hepatitis A outbreak no longer require in-person daily meetings of city staff.”

RELATED: San Diego Hepatitis A Death Toll Reaches 20

The Coordination Center is where city departments, including fire, sanitation, the mayor’s and city attorney’s offices, gather to discuss ongoing eradication efforts such as vaccinations, portable bathrooms and where to clean city streets.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer first announced the center on Sept. 22. At the time, San Diego County Health and Human Services reported 444 confirmed hepatitis A cases with 16 deaths. Now, over a month later, there are 536 confirmed cases and 20 deaths.

Greg Block, the mayor’s senior press secretary, said the hepatitis A Coordination Center meetings will continue on an as-needed basis.

“In the beginning, it was everybody had to be in the same room to figure out roles and responsibilities,” Block said. “As you go along you kind of figure out 'that person doesn't need to be here, that person is better, we need them out in the field.'”

When the center first opened, Faulconer said that operations were being run by John Valencia, the city’s Office of Homeland Security executive director.

During attempts to schedule an interview with Valencia, KPBS learned from a city spokeswoman he was not in San Diego, and at some point left for active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Meetings are currently being coordinated by the city’s Chief Operating Officer, Stacey LoMedico. The city said a representative from the city’s Office of Homeland Security still attends regular Coordination Center meetings.