Live Blog: Saturday Brings 97 New COVID-19 Cases And One Death To San Diego County
Saturday, April 4, 2020
Photo by KPBS Staff
This is a breaking news blog for all of the latest updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Get our complete coronavirus coverage here →
District Attorney Warns Of Identity Thieves And Other Scammers Amid Pandemic
-- 4:30 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan on Saturday asked residents to be wary of scammers trying to take advantage of the fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. She also expects a spike in identity theft with the federal government’s relief checks coming.
“We see more charity scams, we see fake cures for the coronavirus being exploited,” Stephan said during an afternoon news conference. She added that county officials are “very, very concerned” that people will be scammed out of their checks, which are part of the $2-trillion relief package passed by Congress last month.
Here are some of her specific prevention tips:
- Don’t email back any charities before checking the attorney general's charity list. Go to the charity's website rather than clicking links in an email to prevent phishing scams.
- "Don't believe anyone that tells you they have a cure," said Stephan. Check with your medical professionals and listen to the officials at the county.
- The IRS will not be calling you or asking for your personal information prior to sending the economic impact payment.
Stephan said another concern with the stay at home order in place is an increase in domestic violence. "It's a reality that home is not safe for everyone." She encouraged individuals to check the resource page at sdcda.org to find lists of available shelters, food, diapers and more.
Stephan also noted that county officials have taken seriously more than 240 tips and reports of price gouging, including masks, milk, water, eggs and toilet paper.
In addition to her warnings, Stephan emphasized that the work of county courts is continuing and 1,000 public employees are still at work protecting the community.
County courts will begin virtual, remote hearings next week. "We're also working on some important initiatives to ensure that there is room in jail for violent predators that should not be released, while allowing proper social distancing and the ability to quarantine," Stephan said. —Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS Arts Calendar Editor and Producer
Saturday Brings 97 New COVID-19 Cases And One Death To San Diego County
– 4:15 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020
County officials on Saturday announced 97 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death in the region.
The total case count is now at 1,209 in San Diego County and the death toll has reached 18. County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the latest person to die was a male in his early 70s.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said more than 1,000 new tests were reported and that the county has seen a significant increase in the available personal protective equipment (PPE) -- there are 1.5 million units. Also, there are currently 2,026 hotel rooms are available, Fletcher said.
Fletcher also made it a point to say that while elective medical procedures have been postponed, hospitals are still open to people suffering from serious health conditions or a non-coronavirus medical emergency.
Fletcher also announced the launch of a social media campaign that gives residents the opportunity to pledge their "social distancing" commitment publicly. People can go to coronavirus-sd.com to take the #StayHomeSD pledge. —Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS Arts Calendar Editor and Producer
You Can Still Go For A Run In A County Park, But You Can’t Do Yoga Or Sit Under A Tree
– 2 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020
Recreation options continue to dwindle for San Diego County residents amid efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
On Friday, the county issued an order that closed all parking lots at county parks as well as all ball fields and sports courts. However, county parks and preserves will remain open to foot, bike and horse traffic.
But even those who go to the parks on foot, bike or horse must abide by certain restrictions. “You may walk, run or ride a bike or horse along trails … but keep moving,” the county’s new order states.
However, you can’t play sports like basketball, soccer, tennis or roller hockey. And you can’t engage in stationary activities that keep you in a single area like fishing, yoga, picnicking and reading under a tree, the order states.
Similarly, state parks closed campgrounds and are not allowing vehicular traffic, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation website. But, for the most part, the state is still allowing people to hike in its parks.
On Friday, several state beaches closed for the foreseeable future, including Torrey Pines and Silver Strand State Beaches.
Also, as of midnight Saturday morning, Oceanside and Coronado were among the last cities in the county to close their beaches. The City of San Diego closed its parks and beaches almost two weeks ago, and Del Mar, Imperial Beach, Carlsbad, Encinitas and others followed shortly thereafter. —David Washburn, KPBS Investigative News Editor
Newsom Announces Plan To Significantly Expand COVID-19 Testing In California
– 1 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020
Recognizing that testing for COVID-19 has been lacking in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday announced a new state initiative that he hopes will increase the number of tests by five times the current level.
“I own that. You deserve better and more,” Newsom said during an afternoon news conference.
Newsom has formed a task force on testing to better coordinate, collaborate and organize around the issue of testing. The efforts include a collaboration with UC San Diego and UC Davis to create a minimum of five to seven hubs to produce serology tests that can provide results in as soon as five minutes.
The serology test is different from the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or swab test, where the results take as long as 12 days to come back.. The test was developed by Stanford Medicine and will be receiving FDA emergency approval for use “within hours,” Newsome said.
The state has reduced its backlog tests from 59,500 to 13,000 and with the task force, the governor hopes that exponentially more Californians will be tested in the coming weeks.
“I want to see hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tests,” he said. “I want to see everybody tested that needs to be tested.”
Another key part of the task force’s mission is to get medical supplies to where they are needed the most.
“We are managing to gather the data we need to understand what supplies are available,” said Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich, who is the task force co-chairman. “Being able to know what the scarce supplies are, and make sure to distribute them to the hubs where they are scarce.”
On that front, Newsom announced a new website, covid19supplies.ca.gov, where Californians and businesses can donate needed medical supplies.
It allows individuals and businesses to let the state know what supplies they’re offering and also what the state needs and is looking for, he said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Sheriff Deputies Ticket 22 Beach Goers In Encinitas For Violating Stay At Home Order
– 10 a.m., Friday, April 4, 2020
San Diego County Sheriff deputies Friday evening ticketed 22 people who were on the beach in Encinitas for violating the state's stay at home order, the department announced Saturday morning.
Those ticketed "were watching the sunset, having picnics near the beach,'' according to a department news release.
"Everyone is required to stay home, except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or go to an essential job,'' the department tweeted on Saturday. "Complacency is the enemy. Take social distancing more seriously to stop coronavirus.''
The violations carry fines of up to $1,000 or six months in jail or both.
"You can easily transmit coronavirus (without) knowing it, creating a snowball effect,'' another tweet from the department said. "By staying home, you can save lives. The public health orders were not created to follow when convenient.'' — City News Service
San Diego Unified School District Prepares For Distance Learning on Monday
– 7:25 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2020
The San Diego Unified School District announced Friday it has set a "soft launch" for distance learning, which will begin Monday and run through April 24.
The district received the final support necessary after reaching a tentative agreement with the San Diego Education Association. The district now has the full backing of stakeholders to provide all students with the opportunity to finish the school year they started months ago while providing teachers with the professional resources they need, according to Superintendent Cindy Marten.
"This emergency may change the way we operate, but it will not change who we are as educators or who we are as a district," Marten said.
"Our commitment from the beginning of the current health crisis was to find a way to keep students safe, while still providing them the opportunity to continue their education," she said. "We made the decision to close schools to protect students -- before the state required us to do so, and from that moment forward, thousands of dedicated professionals in the district have been working nonstop to come up with a plan to connect students with their teachers."
San Diego Unified is the state's largest district to announce a plan to return formal grading and instruction. Those changes will take effect following the soft launch period. Districts around the state are still working to transition to online and graded instruction.
"This agreement reflects our shared commitment to continue serving students under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable," said SDEA President Kisha Borden.
Starting Monday, computers and/or internet access will be provided to all district students who need them, and teachers will begin communicating with students online. For the three-week period, students will be given credit for work that is done, although material will not be graded. On April 27, graded instruction will resume for traditional schools, and May 11 for year-round schools, for the remainder of the academic year.
For students in TK-12 who need a computer, Chromebooks will be available for check-out, depending on where students attend school, at the following high schools: Clairemont, Crawford, Hoover, Lincoln, Morse, San Diego High and Scripps Ranch. Families will receive information this weekend on when and where to pick up their Chromebooks.
Families who need internet connectivity within the Cox service area should sign up for the Connect2Compete program, which offers free Cox installation and internet services for the next 60 days. — City News Service
Mayor Faulconer Encourages San Diegans To Take Care Of Mental, Physical Health During Pandemic
– 5:30 p.m., April 3, 2020
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday urged San Diegans to take steps to take care of their mental and physical health during the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus caused an abrupt change to American lives. In one month, the U.S. went from a strong economy to record-high unemployment, and that has taken a toll on San Diegans’ mental health, the mayor said.
Faulconer said residents should seek out help when they need it, such as talking to their therapist and utilizing resources such as the National Alliance for Mental Health.
And since many are stuck at home, keeping physically fit is also important. The San Diego YMCA has a few online resources on its website for people to keep fit at home.
Meanwhile, the city has ordered 10,000 facial coverings and the order will be distributed to city workers starting next week, Faulconer said.
The mayor also addressed cross-border life, saying the west pedestrian crossing is now closed and people should be using the east facility instead.
Lastly, a lifeguard who contracted COVID-19 has recovered and been medically cleared to return to work. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Number of Local COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1,000 Milestone
– 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020
The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County increased by 146 Friday, the largest local increase since the epidemic began and enough to have the county cross the 1,000-case milestone.
There have been 1,112 positive cases confirmed in the county, and an additional death reported Friday of a man in his late 70s, brings the total death count to 17.
Of those positive cases, 211 have been hospitalized and 85 placed in intensive care.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher asked for patience with clarifications on public health orders, stating rapidly changing information sometimes meant messages became muddled.
"We are adapting to new information," he said. "And we must adapt to the newest opportunities to protect each other."
Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the county had 13 confirmed outbreaks in congregate living centers, which had placed positive individuals in isolation.
All San Diego stores still open and serving the public scrambled Friday to comply with San Diego County's amended public health orders — requiring all employees who work in essential business and interact with the public to wear facial covering — which go into effect at midnight tonight.
These industries include pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations.
Fletcher clarified the public health order to include restaurants after a plea Thursday from Jeff Rossman, president of the San Diego County chapter of the California Restaurant Association. – City News Service
Oceanside To Close Beaches At Midnight, Leaving Just Coronado Open
– 3:00 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020
The city of Oceanside announced Friday it was closing all public beaches effective midnight Friday evening.
This includes all water-based activities, including surfing. The Strand will also be closed for walking and driving except to residents living there in order to access their property. Oceanside beach parking lots are already closed.
Oceanside will join most of the county in shutting down its beaches, with most beaches in San Diego Count closing last week in an attempt to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of the coronavirus. Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego and Solana Beach closed their beaches, trails and parks March 23, while Imperial Beach and the Port of San Diego announced similar closures March 24.
San Diego County health officials amended public health orders Thursday, shutting down park and beach parking lots, effective Friday at midnight.
Coronado's beaches remain open despite calls for their closure from Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Union-Tribune op-ed columnists.
"Closing our beaches is not enjoyable, but that isn't the point. The point is to protect public health and combat #COVID19," Atkins said in a statement on Twitter. "I strongly support the @sdutIdeas appeal for a full closure of beaches and implore Coronado to do so. This is a temporary sacrifice that will save lives." — City News Service
San Diego County Health Officials Give Update On COVID-19
– 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020
Watch the news conference below:
Sailors Give Send-off To Navy Captain Fired Over Letter On COVID-19 Outbreak
– 2:10 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2020
A large crowd of service members gave a warm send-off to the former captain of a San Diego-based aircraft carrier, whose widely-publicized letter asking for help from Navy leadership regarding a COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship resulted in his firing.
Video footage posted on social media showed a raucous crowd of sailors chanting Capt. Brett Crozier's name as he departed the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is currently docked in Guam, where the Navy is working to move around 3,000 of its sailors off the carrier. More than 100 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
Crozier was relieved of duty on Thursday, after his letter requesting immediate action from the Navy was also copied to "20 or 30 other people," which may have been conducive to its eventual leak to the media, according to Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.
In a Thursday Pentagon news conference announcing Crozier's firing, Modly said he had no information to suggest Crozier directly leaked the letter, which first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday. However, he did note that the letter was first publicized in Crozier's "hometown paper." Crozier is a Santa Rosa native.
Though Modly credited Crozier for voicing his concerns, he said the letter misrepresented the state of the situation onboard, incited panic, and created the perception that the Navy was only responding to assist the sailors because of his letter.
In the videos, Crozier is seen walking down the ship's gangway amid an eruption of cheers, applause, and chants of "Captain Crozier!" then turning and saluting the crew.
One man who recorded footage is heard saying, "That's how you send off one of the greatest captains you ever had," calling Crozier, "the GOAT" or greatest of all time, and "the man for the people."
Crozier's letter stated the COVID-19 infection aboard his ship would spiral if immediate action was not taken. Modly said similar concerns were also expressed by the ship's medical team.
In his letter, Crozier said the crew had undertaken some measures to slow the virus' spread, including moving a small percentage of the crew off- ship, increasing cleaning of the ship and attempting social distancing wherever possible.
However, he warned, "The current strategy will only slow the spread. The current plan in execution on TR will not achieve virus eradication on any timeline."
Modly said the Navy responded to the outbreak by immediately working to move most of the sailors off the ship, yet Crozier's letter made it appear otherwise. The secretary said Crozier "raised alarm bells unnecessarily" and "demonstrated extremely poor judgment in the middle of a crisis."
Though he called Crozier "an honorable man," he said relieving him of command was in the "best interests" of the Navy, which he said required more focused leadership in the face of various threats, including COVID-19.
"I did not come to this decision lightly. I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interests of the safety and wellbeing of his crew. Unfortunately, it did the opposite," Modly said.
To the USS Theodore Roosevelt's crew, Modly said: "I am entirely convinced that your commanding officer loves you and that he had you at the center of his heart and mind in every decision that he has made. I also know that you have great affection and love for him, as well. But it is my responsibility to ensure that his love and responsibility for you is matched, if not exceeded by, his sober and professional judgment under pressure." — City News Service
California Secures Roughly 7,000 Hotel Rooms To House Homeless During COVID-19 Pandemic
– 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced an initiative to secure hotel and motel rooms to house the homeless population to protect them and the public from the coronavirus.
The initiative, named Project Roomkey, is a first-in-the-nation partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will provide a model for other states, Newsom said.
To date the state has secured 6,867 motel and hotel rooms to house individuals experiencing homelessness, he said.
FEMA will provide 75% reimbursement to the state provided that the rooms are used to house individuals that have been exposed to COVID-19 or are part of the vulnerable population.
The goal of the project is to relieve the stress to the state’s health care system and move people out of congregate settings, such as the bridge shelters, Newsom said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Chula Vista Urging Residents To Continue To Follow Shelter-In-Place Order
– 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 3, 2020
Chula Vista officials on Friday were urging residents to continue to stay home during the pandemic.
“Stay healthy by staying at home,” Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said. The department will now move from an education phase to an enforcement phase, she said.
People and businesses who are not following social distancing and stay-at-home orders could be cited for up to $1,000 fine, six months in jail or both.
“Our goal is not to go and cite people,” Kennedy said. “We’ll be warning people on the first attempt, and then we’ll be citing.”
She reminded residents that they should not congregate in groups of 10 or more, practicing social distancing by staying at least six feet away from another person and if people need to go out for essential business, to cover their faces with masks, bandanas or other types of covering. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla Announces Recovery From COVID-19
– 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 3, 2020
Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Padilla announced Friday he has recovered from COVID-19 and will return home soon to finish recuperation.
On March 14, Padilla, also the California Coastal Commission chairman, became the first local elected official to contract the illness. Five days later, he was admitted to UC San Diego Thornton Hospital's intensive care unit.
He released a statement Friday expressing gratitude.
"Friends — I'm off the ventilator, out of the ICU, and will be home soon. After an intense 3-week battle with coronavirus, the relief and gratitude I'm feeling right now are overwhelming," he said. "I'm so grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff at UCSD Medical Center who saved my life, and who are working tirelessly every day to save more. America's healthcare professionals are true heroes showing undaunted courage on the frontlines of this fight."
"Take it from me: the threat of coronavirus is as serious as it is real. We all need to stay home, and follow County Public Health guidelines to stop the spread and save lives that are at risk. Thank you all for your support during this ordeal — it made a real difference. I'm looking forward to getting back home and back to work very soon! Together, we will get through this." — City News Service
Public Workers Scramble To Comply With County Order To Wear Face Covers
– 8:27 a.m., April 3, 2020
All San Diego stores still open and serving the public will scramble today to comply with San Diego County's amended public health orders — requiring all employees who work in essential business and interact with the public to wear facial covering — which go into effect at midnight tonight.
These industries include pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations.
The California Grocers Associated sought guidance from County officials yesterday on how grocery stores are suppose to acquire face masks for their employees
"with such short notice," The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday.
"The safety of our employees and customers is always our first priority, and even more so during this health crisis," Ron Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association, said in a statement Thursday. "With such short notice given by San Diego County, grocery companies will be scrambling to be in compliance by Saturday's deadline. We look forward to hearing from the County quickly on how it will support grocers securing appropriate face coverings for all its workers by April 4."
Carlsbad To Ban Parking Along Six Miles of Coastline
– 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020
After efforts to keep people from gathering at the beach proved insufficient, the city of Carlsbad announced Thursday it will prohibit parking along nearly six miles of state-owned coastline starting Friday.
Carlsbad closed the northernmost beach controlled by the city on March 23 and has made formal requests that the state follows suit with beaches under its jurisdiction. To date, the state has closed beach parking lots, but not the beach. Most other beaches in the county are closed, resulting in a huge influx of people from miles around to the beaches in Carlsbad.
"We are in the middle of a serious public health emergency, and the city of Carlsbad is going to do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick.
Over the past two weeks, the city's police department has put up signs, handed out hundreds of informational fliers, and had officers at the beach encouraging compliance with the health orders. In spite of these efforts, the city continues to observe and document instances of people gathering and not maintaining six feet of distance from each other.
County public health officials said Wednesday that the county is still in the early days of the outbreak, and April will be a critical month for following all health directives. Otherwise, officials warn that COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization and ventilators will outpace local healthcare capacity, leading to significantly more deaths from the new virus.
The no-parking rule will start Friday at 5 a.m. The area affected includes the east and west sides of Carlsbad Boulevard from Pine to La Costa avenues, Ponto Drive and Ponto Road. City crews will put up signs and barricades in the affected areas.
The Carlsbad Police Department will enforce the new rule with citations that carry fines starting at $50. — City News Service
Mayor Kevin Faulconer Urges Local Industries To Pivot To Making Needed Supplies To Battle COVID-19
— 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulcon on Thursday called on local businesses to pivot to making critical supplies to help during this pandemic.
“It is more important than ever that we are using every resource available to keep San Diego safe,” he said. “So, today I’m calling on our San Diego manufacturing industry to help continue the fight that they are doing to help shift their operations to support the battle against COVID-19.”
He was joined by representatives from Biocom, San Diego Workforce Partnerships and the San Diego Distillers Guild.
Some businesses have already made this transition, such as Seven Caves Spirits, which has transitioned to making hand sanitizers. Faulconer was encouraging other industries to follow suit in making everything from face masks to ventilators.
For the thousands of San Diegans that are out of work because of the pandemic, Peter Callstrom, president and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, said his agency is there to help them find jobs and navigate the unemployment claim filing process.
Imperial County Reports First Coronavirus-Related Death
— 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2
An elderly adult with underlying health conditions is the first person to die in Imperial County from complications of COVID-19, officials announced Thursday.
The patient had recently been diagnosed and was being treated at a San Diego hospital, the county Public Health Department said in a news release. The patient had “minimal local community exposure” and spent time at residences in the county and in Mexicali, the release said.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to the individual’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Dr. Stephen Munday, the county’s health officer, said in a statement. “Any loss of life is tragic, but this is particularly sobering.”
Imperial County is one of the poorest in the state and has one of the highest rates for people with asthma. Its two hospitals have fewer than 300 beds.
County health officials told inewsource last month that they’re prepared to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The county said in its new release that residents “should assume that they have been exposed to the virus and continue to take the necessary precautions.”
As of Wednesday, Imperial County had reported 43 positive cases, six of whom have recovered and are no longer in isolation. Another nine people are waiting for test results and 219 have tested negative. — Jennifer Bowman, inewsource investigative reporter
County Orders Face Covering For Some Essential Workers As COVID-19 Cases Rise To 966
– 4:13 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020
San Diego County officials Thursday announced some essential employees must wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus. That directive comes as deaths from the illness increased by one to 16 and total positive cases grew to 966.
The coverings should not be masks used by health care workers, rather bandanas or scarves. The requirement applies to employees at pharmacies, supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations.
Sheriff Bill Gore said authorities will more aggressively enforce all of the county’s public health orders.
“The days of trying to get voluntary compliance … are really over. So the message is going to go out to all of public safety here in the county that we will start issuing citations,” Gore said.
Violators face up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. People can report entities that are flouting orders to 211.
Officials also recommended that San Diegans wear face coverings when in public. Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the county’s epidemiology and immunizations services branch, said he personally endorsed the idea.
"When you leave your place, cover your face," McDonald said.
Businesses must also have plans in place to ensure social distancing and proper hygiene, which must be posted near the entrance. The county will provide suggested language on its website. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter
Rancho Bernardo Postal Service Worker Tests Positive For COVID-19
– 1:15 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020
A Rancho Bernardo postal service worker tested positive for the coronavirus, the United States Postal Service announced Thursday.
The unidentified employee works at the Rancho Bernardo Post Office Annex at 16960, Bernardo Center Drive, according to the Postal Service.
The agency has reached out to the county public health office for guidance but has taken preemptive steps to disinfect the facility.
“We believe the risk is low for employees who work at the Rancho Bernardo Post Office, but we will keep our employees apprised as new information and guidance becomes available,” the Postal Service said in an email statement to KPBS.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization do not believe the novel coronavirus can spread through the mail.
The USPS did not release any other information about the employee or their current condition because of federal privacy laws. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Newsom Suspends California Sales Tax For 12 Months To Assist Small Businesses
– 12 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the state would be issuing a 12-month sales tax reprieve for small businesses.
More than 1.9 million people have filed for unemployment since March 12, Newsom said, and in response, the state is rolling out a series of initiatives to help.
"The economic consequences are profound," he said.
The state is going to issue a 12-month sales tax reprieve for small businesses, he said. Small businesses won't need to pay the state sales tax receipts for one year and there will be no fines or penalties.
In addition, Newsom said small businesses can take upwards of $50,000 as a bridge loan from their sales taxes with no interest and no fees.
Newsom stressed the importance for California businesses to take advantage of two federal assistance programs coming from the federal stimulus packages.
"We need to be able to get the federal dollars into the state of California," Newsom said.
The first federal program allows any business to apply for and receive an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.
The second federal program Newsom pointed to is the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The program offers up to $10 million in loans for business as long as they continue to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Seventy-five percent of the loan has to be used for payroll. Currently, there is $349 billion in the fund and the program will be open for applications starting Friday.
The California Infrastructure Bank will also be providing up to $50 million in microlending opportunities for businesses ineligible for other assistance programs. — Chris Underwood, web producer
Mayor Faulconer Directs All Vacant City Property To Support Expected COVID-19 Patient Surge
– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Mayor Faulconer on Wednesday announced he is directing all vacant city property to be used to support an expected surge in COVID-19 patients.
“Hospitals will need all the help our community can offer,” he said. “We need all hands on deck.”
The properties involved could include city recreation centers, libraries, which are all closed, and even city parking lots, he said. They could be used as field hospitals, space to conduct tests, and anything the state, county or hospitals need, Faulconer said.
An example of this is the SDCCU Stadium parking lot being used by the county Health and Human Services as a mobile testing center, the mayor said.
Earlier Wednesday, the Convention Center opened as a shelter for people experiencing homelessness. Some 400 people have moved there from the city’s downtown bridge shelters. The next step is to move more homeless individuals downtown from other bridge shelters, Faulconer said.
The mayor said he was in talks with state and federal officials, including Sen. Kamala Harris, about getting funding to move people into permanent housing once the pandemic is over.
He was also in talks with Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Govs. Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger about easing some regulations to help with the recovery effort for people affected financially by the pandemic.
Driving home the point that people need to stay home and only go out when necessary, Faulconer said, “Complacency is the enemy.”
If people ignore the shelter at home and social distancing orders, it could crash the hospital system because of the expected surge in cases in the coming weeks, he said.
“Everyone has the power to help stop this from happening,” Faulconer said.
The mayor also announced one San Diego police officer has recovered from COVID-19. To date, seven public safety officers have contracted the disease, including four city lifeguards, two police officers and one firefighter. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
County Health Officials Announce Five More COVID-19 Deaths, Bringing Total To 15
- 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2020
San Diego County officials Wednesday said five additional people died from coronavirus while another 115 tested positive for the illness. That brings the county’s total to 849 cases with 15 deaths, which includes a fatality that was previously identified as “probable,” officials said.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher urged San Diegans to follow public health orders and slow the spread of infection, especially during April. He said the community’s actions over the next 30 days will decide whether the county’s health care system becomes overwhelmed like in New York and Italy.
“We absolutely and unequivocally believe that the month of April is the month that will determine our trajectory as a region,” he said.
Fletcher said that depends on the public staying home, practicing social distancing and not gathering in large groups. However, he said not all residents are adhering to those directives.
“For these San Diegans we plead with you and we ask you that the month of April is the time in which we must all come together; we must all make an absolutely unequivocal commitment that we will shoulder our share of the load,” he said.
The county is talking with police to step up enforcement of public health orders, such as ensuring the closures of nonessential businesses, and may also make recommendations about wearing masks in public, he said.
The residents who died include a 90-year-old woman, an 83-year-old man, a 74-year-old man, a 73-year-old man and a 71-year-old man. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter
Students Applying To UC Schools For The 2021-22 School Year Will Not Have to Submit SAT Scores
– 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020
The University of California system announced Wednesday that it will not require students applying for admission for the 2021-22 school year to submit SAT scores and is also relaxing other admission requirements amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Students, for example, can take college preparatory classes, also known as A-G courses, as pass/fail through the summer of 2020. Additionally, students transferring from community colleges no longer have a cap on how many classes they can take as pass/fail.
“The COVID-19 outbreak is a disaster of historic proportions disrupting every aspect of our lives, including education for high school students, among others,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano in a statement on Wednesday. “The University’s flexibility at this crucial time will ensure prospective students aiming for UC get a full and fair shot — no matter their current challenges.”
Click here for more information on the changes. — Joe Hong, KPBS education reporter
– 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said that schools likely will not reopen this school year due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, but that distance learning will continue.
"Schools are closed but classes are in," Newsom said.
Tony Thurmond, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, added that maximum social distancing is key to flattening the curve in California and that schools will be using distance learning so that students can continue to get an education safely.
"No one knows when it will be safe to return to campuses," Thurmond said. "Out of an abundance of caution, all schools should maximize distance learning."
Newsom said a management labor agreement had been reached statewide and that the state is in talks with teachers unions to advance distance learning.
Google announced that it will be partnering with the state to provide 100,000 points of access for free high-speed internet. In addition, Google will be providing thousands of Chromebooks to students who need them to meet economic rural and equity issues.
Newsom also provided updates regarding the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, he said, there are 774 COVID-19 patients in ICU's, a 16% increase since Tuesday. Newsom said these numbers as well as the overall hospitalization numbers in California, represent the most urgent need for California.
He said the state is preparing for a two-thirds increase in hospital bed capacity and is working to procure more protective gear, masks and ventilators to meet an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California Health & Human Services, said that with the current stay at home efforts California won't reach hospital bed capacity until late May during the first stage of the COVID-19 surge.
"In order to maintain capacity, stay home, hold people accountable," he said. — Chris Underwood, web producer
– 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2020
San Diego began transitioning residents of the city's crowded homeless shelters into the Convention Center on Wednesday, as officials look for ways to prevent the coronavirus from rapidly spreading among the especially vulnerable population.
The use of the Convention Center as a temporary homeless shelter was first announced last week. Residents of the city's tent shelters are set to start filling up the Convention Center, while the existing tents are due to be used for public health screenings among the homeless. — Andrew Bowen, KPBS metro reporter
San Diego County Releases COVID-19 Cases By ZIP Code
– 8:08 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2020
The county released information late Monday night detailing coronavirus cases by neighborhoods.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher warned that while information is available by ZIP Code of residence, it may not reflect location of exposure, in addition to the cases unaccounted for.
On their website, the county added more information may become available as individual case investigations are completed.
Otay Detention Center Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19
– 5:45 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020
A person who works at the Otay Mesa Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 after showing symptoms, CoreCivic announced Tuesday.
The detention center is operated by CoreCivic, a private prison company contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service, to hold detainees.
CoreCivic said in a statement the employee's last shift at the facility was March 21 and they are currently being isolated at home. The contractor says that efforts are being made to contact anyone the person may have had contact with at the detention center.
In a statement, CoerCivic said: "The employee who tested positive had no known physical contact with the detainee population at this time. However, a full review is underway and we're working closely with our partners at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals Service on those efforts."
Advocates say the greatest risk of the spread of coronavirus doesn’t come from the detainees themselves, who have been kept isolated from the larger world for weeks and months, but from the guards and other employees at facilities.
Last week, immigration attorney Dorien Ediger-Seto said that when she walked into the Otay Mesa Detention Center last week to deliver papers to a client, she was shocked by what she saw.
She said she witnessed guards and employees at the private facility going about their work without taking necessary precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“None of the guards had gloves, the security guards were not practicing social-distancing, there were signs up telling people to do, but it looked very much like business as usual at the detention center,” said Ediger-Seto, an attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center. — Chris Underwood, web producer
City Outlines Steps Grocers, Workers And Public Can Take To Prevent Spread Of COVID-19
– 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020
San Diego Mayor Faulconer on Tuesday outlined steps grocery stores, employees and customers are taking and can take to keep grocery shopping safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the state's "Stay At Home" order, grocery stores have been designated essential services. Throughout the crisis, grocery stores and workers have been working to keep up with increased demand which increases their contact with the public.
On Monday, county health officials announced that three local food handlers were confirmed to have COVID-19.
"Grocery workers, like our first responders, are on the front lines," Faulconer said. "This is incredibly important. Getting food to San Diegans is important."
The mayor, along with Councilwoman Georgette Gomez and United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135, are asking all San Diegans, shoppers and workers, to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Several steps people can take are:
– Avoid using cash, instead use credit cards or mobile pay apps
– Don't go to the store if you feel sick
– Don't go with the whole family, go in smaller groups
Customers and employees are advised to maintain social distancing as much as possible in stores.
The mayor pointed out that many stores have already adopted practices to protect their employees, but, for stores that haven't taken any measures, employees are encouraged to contact the owners to demand action be taken.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135 is urging food handlers to wash their hands every 30 min and to regularly wash their work stations. The union is also calling on stores to limit their hours in order to allow time for workers to safely restock and clean the stores.
"These workers are on the frontline of our COVID-19 outbreak. They have been working around the clock," Councilwoman Georgette said. "Keeping our community healthy and safe is our number one priority. "
"If you have to go to the stores, be mindful of the people around you." — Chris Underwood, web producer
- 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Two more deaths and 131 new COVID-19 cases were reported in San Diego County Tuesday, the largest single-day increase thus far, county health officials announced.
Those new cases now bring the total to 734, but Supervisor Nathan Fletcher warned the public not to read too much into the reporting because it can be “influenced by a series of things.”
“We’re still in the early days for the region,” he said. “There is so much we don’t know (such as how many actual cases and when virus spread will peak).”
The county's first case was reported about three weeks ago and the region has only been under a stay-at-home order for less than two weeks. Fletcher said he expects cases will rise as more people get tested.
“It will continue to rise in the foreseeable future,” he said.
There were also two more deaths and one probable death associated with the virus reported, county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. That brings the total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths to nine in the county.
The viral spread has not yet reached its peak in the San Diego region, she said.
With regards to the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship that docked in San Diego on Monday, county epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said in addition to the one passenger, three crew members had also tested positive for the coronavirus.
When pressed by reporters why he had said there were no reported cases on the cruise ship, McDonald said the extent of the person’s condition was not known at the time.
“We didn’t know the full condition of the patient until that patient arrived at the hospital,” he said. “This specific case and three crew members really had no effect on the disembarkation process for those leaving the ship.”
He said those leaving the ship were asymptomatic and did not have any close contact with the infected individuals.
Approximately 1,200 more passengers disembarked from the ship Tuesday. McDonald said it was done in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current guidelines, which is for cruise ship passengers who are asymptomatic to leave the ship as soon as possible and return home for self-quarantine.
This is different than what the CDC had previously recommended. Cruise ship passengers were previously held in federal quarantine before being allowed to return home. McDonald said at that time, the strategy was to contain the spread of the virus. The strategy now is to mitigate it.
“It is safer and faster and better for all involved to quickly leave the cruise ship and home quarantine,” he said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
California To Release 3,500 Inmates In Attempt To Decrease Coronavirus Spread
— 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31 2020
In an attempt to decrease crowding in state prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Tuesday it's granting release to 3,500 inmates. All were scheduled to be released in the next 60 days.
Lawyers and advocates have been pressing Gov. Gavin Newsom to do more to decrease crowding at prisons and prevent further spread of the coronavirus. They wrote a letter to the governor earlier this week that says there are 122,000 people in the state's 35 prisons, but prisons were designed for a maximum capacity of 85,000.
"With multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases at California’s prisons of staff and incarcerated individuals, unless you take action very soon, it is only a matter of time before California’s jails and prisons become a source of uncontrolled transmission for the COVID-19 virus," the letter said.
The state is also taking other measures to decrease crowding, including blocking transfer of inmates from county jails to state prisons, and taking some inmates out of dorms where they sleep close together and share showers and sinks. — Claire Trageser, investigative reporter
– 1:46 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020
A passenger aboard the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship docked in San Diego Harbor has tested positive for novel coronavirus, county health officials confirmed Tuesday.
A letter sent Tuesday to all the passengers by Celebrity Cruises instructed them to self-quarantine for 14 days.
"Celebrity Cruises has recently been advised that a person who sailed on Celebrity Eclipse from March 1st through 30th has recently tested positive for COVID-19. Because you were a passenger on the same voyage, it is possible you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19," the letter reads.
After the ship docked, the individual was taken to a hospital with medical issues that were not believed to be related to COVID-19, including possible pneumonia and heart issues, the Union-Tribune reported. Medical staff later diagnosed the patient, who is not a San Diego County resident, with the coronavirus.
County health officials said Monday that no patient aboard the ship had been diagnosed with the illness, and Celebrity Cruises appeared to confirm that earlier this morning before the diagnosis was announced. — City News Service
– 12:51 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Gov. Newsom announced Tuesday the state is stepping up to protect Californians over the age of 65 from the coronavirus by launching the "Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In" campaign.
“No older Californian should be forced to go outside to get groceries or their medication. It’s on all of us across the state to check in on the older adults in our lives — our friends, family and neighbors — to help them during this outbreak," Newsom said. "Each and every one of us must reach out in a safe way to make sure our older neighbors have someone to talk to and have enough food to eat during these difficult times.”
The three part-campaign:
– Asks Californians to call or safely check-in on five of the older folks in their lives;
– Encourages use of new, statewide 24/7 hotline ((833) 544-2374);
– Partners with AARP to better reach older Californians, which includes sending a mailer to residents 65 and older, with useful resources and information to help adapt to the stay at home order.
“Social isolation can be difficult for older Californians even in the best of times,” said Kim McCoy Wade, director of the California Department of Aging. “We have to help aging Californians feel connected – and we must ensure we all have access to any needed services right now. This work will save lives.”
The campaign builds on existing efforts by California Volunteers and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to help older Californians and those who need food assistance.
The governor stressed the importance of making contact with seniors through welfare checks and helping ensure they receive the food and medication they need.
Newsom also announced an executive order aimed at providing more relief to small businesses across the state. All small businesses will have an additional three months to file returns and pay taxes. Additionally, all businesses will have an extra 60 days to file claims for a refund from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration or to appeal a CDTFA decision to the Office of Tax Appeals.
For more information:
– Visit the CDTFA website to find answers on specific topics;
– Phone the Customer Support Center at 1-800-400-7115 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to – 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, except state holidays);
– Call or email a local CDTFA office;
– Write a letter by mail.
— Chris Underwood, web producer
San Diego Police Shut Down Police Academy For Two Weeks Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
– 10:25 a.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020
The San Diego Police Department announced Tuesday that it is closing down its police academy for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The San Diego Regional Public Safety Training Institute held at Miramar Community College was training two academy classes containing a total of 185 recruits, SDPD Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said.
"With the health and safety of those recruits and their families in mind, law enforcement leaders in the region have elected to suspend both academies for the next two weeks," Takeuchi said. "Academy staff will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will determine if a longer suspension is needed."
The 122nd class was scheduled to graduate 88 recruits in May and the 123rd class was scheduled to graduate 97 recruits in August, he said.
It was not immediately clear if the closure would affect those graduation dates.
The academy teaches a 25-week program that consists of 928 hours of academic and practical training.
"That training environment requires many hours of in-person and scenario based training that simply cannot be replicated in a virtual format," Takeuchi said. – City News Service
San Diego State University Student Tests Positive For COVID-19
– 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020
A San Diego State University student who lived on campus has tested positive for the coronavirus, the university announced Monday.
The student started to feel symptoms after moving off-campus, a university official said.
Everyone connected to the university who has had contact with the student has been notified and is "receiving appropriate guidance," according to the official.
"As social distancing guidelines have been in effect, the situation is contained to a small number of individuals," the official said.
Information about the student was not released. – City News Service
– 5: 23 p.m., Monday, March 30. 2020
The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County increased to 603 Monday, a jump of 84 from Sunday, and includes a San Diego police officer.
The number of deaths held at seven, but 118 county residents are currently hospitalized, 51 in intensive care.
Mayor Faulconer Declares City Employees Disaster Workers
– 5:07 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued an executive order Monday declaring all city employees disaster workers.
Under the California State Emergency Act, city employees will now have the power to assist in efforts to help protect life and property and to help mitigate the effects of the local COVID-19 emergency.
"This is not a crisis that will be solved overnight, but this is a crisis we can all help resolve," Faulconer said.
Faulconer announced that a second San Diego Police officer is confirmed to have COVID-19. The mayor said there are now seven confirmed cases among the city's first responders, including four lifeguards and one firefighter.
The city is pausing the current police academy to prevent the spread of the virus to cadets. All firefighter academies have also been put on hold, as well as an advanced lifeguard course.
More than 5,300 small businesses applied to the city's small business relief fund, the mayor said. If all of those applications are approved, it's possible there isn't enough money in the $6 million fund to cover all the applicants.
Faulconer said they would be looking for other ways to grow the fund to continue supporting local businesses impacted by the outbreak.
San Diego County Issues 2 New Orders Limiting Cruise Ships From Docking
- 3:15 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020
San Diego County public health officials on Monday issued two new public health orders limiting cruise ships from docking in San Diego.
One of the orders bars cruise ships from docking in San Diego after March 31, except for refueling and picking up supplies provided no crew members or passengers disembark. The second order bars passengers and crew members from disembarking without the county public health officer’s (or designate) approval. That includes emergency health evacuations.
The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship that docked in San Diego on Monday had the approval of the county public health officers and was done in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said
The orders are meant to limit the arrival of cruise ships and to better control disembarkations, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. He noted that San Diego has been doing its part to help by accepting the repatriations of Americans from Wuhan and from the Grand Princess cruise ship. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
San Diego Zoo, Safari Park To Close Indefinitely
- 1:42 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020
Both the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park will remain closed until further notice, San Diego Zoo Global announced Monday.
The closure is in accordance with advice from health experts and government officials, the zoo said. Zoo workers will continue to get paid through April 19.
Workers deemed essential will continue to work to care for animals and plants at the parks, the zoo said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Del Mar Fairgrounds Hosting Drive-Thru Food Distribution For Families In Need
- 1:40 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020
The Del Mar Fairgrounds is planning a drive-through food distribution Friday for families in need.
The drive-thru, a partnership between the San Diego Food Bank and Del Mar Fairgrounds, is for low-income families and those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be on a first-come, first-served basis and there is enough food for 1,000 cars, the Fairgrounds said. For health reasons, there are no food distributions for walk-ups.
The drive-thru distribution begins at 10 a.m. Friday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. For families not able to arrive by car, visit SanDiegoFoodBank.org/GetHelp or call (866) 350-3663. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Gov. Newsom Calls On Retired Health Care Professionals, Students To Help During COVID-19 Pandemic
– 12:45 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he is asking people with a background in health care to sign up with the state in order to help treat the rising number of patients with COVID-19, stressing the need for more health care personnel, stating that "the next few weeks will be critical."
“California’s health care workers are the heroes of this moment, serving on the front lines in the fight against this disease. To treat the rising number of patients with COVID-19, our state needs more workers in the health care field to join the fight. If you have a background in health care, we need your help. Sign up at healthcorps.ca.gov,” said Gov. Newsom.
Newsom said that statewide there needs to be a two-thirds increase in overall capacity for the state's hospital systems in order to meet a predicted surge that's expected to take place over the next several weeks.
Newsom said the state is looking for anyone who has a background in medicine or health care to meet this need. That includes retired doctors, nurses, EMT's and technicians, as well as anyone currently nearing the completion of medical school, nursing school or any other health care related certifications.
Newsom said that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook will be providing up to $25 million in stipends to help provide health care volunteers with childcare, transportation and hotel lodging.
Newsom said he signed an executive order aimed at doing two things: expand the size of the state's health care workforce by temporarily suspending licensing and staffing requirements for health care professionals through June 30 and to add 50,000 hospital beds across the state.
Newsom said that the U.S Army Corps of Engineers is actively identifying sites to be used as triage centers across the state to boost the number of hospital beds. In addition, the state is pursuing more surgical masks and protective gear for health care workers.
They are also seeking 10,000 more ventilators, Newsom said.
During the last four days, the number of hospitalizations in California doubled to 1,442, Newsom said. In addition, the number of ICU patients over that same period tripled across the state.
"The hospitalization numbers, the ICU numbers, are what we are most focused on," Newsom said. – Chris Underwood, web producer
City Of Vista Closes All Parks
-8:50 a.m. Monday, March 30, 2020
The City of Vista announced Sunday that starting Monday it would temporarily close all city parks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.
"This is due to the increasing number of confirmed cases in Vista, currently at 10 as of Saturday," the city said in a news release.
The closures include all parks and trails and restrooms, the South Buena Vista off-leash dog area, athletic fields, basketball courts, pickleball courts, playgrounds, skate parks and tennis courts. - City News Service
Five San Diego Food Handlers Test Positive for COVID-19
-6:50 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020
San Diego County health officials said Sunday that five food handlers have tested positive for COVID-19 — four restaurant employees and a grocery store employee.
The grocery store employee who tested positive is from an Albertson's store in Escondido, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said, adding that the store did the right thing by closing, alerting county environmental health officials, following sanitation protocols, then re-opening to customers.
"If you have a sick worker, they must stay home," Fletcher said, urging employers to call 858-505-6814 to report any sick workers.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology, said co-workers of the Albertson's employee who display any symptoms of the coronavirus infection will be sent home, but there are no tests pending in this case.
Health officials also stressed that there is no evidence of COVID-19 association with food. They cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Fletcher also said that the county is increasing inspections of the many food facilities in the region.
Also Saturday, Fletcher said the county is issuing a new public health order, extending indefinitely until further notice all closure orders that were set to expire March 31.
"We still are in the early days," Fletcher said. The closure order applies to schools, nonessential businesses, restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, he said, and anyone 65 or older should continue to quarantine themselves at home. — City News Service
County Reports 519 Cases Of Coronavirus; No New Deaths
-5:45 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020
San Diego County health officials Sunday reported 519 local cases of the coronavirus, up from the 488 reported Saturday, and no new deaths.
The increase in reported cases in the past 24 hours is smaller than in recent days, though officials warn the local outbreak is likely still weeks from reaching its peak and that strict "social distancing" practices are critical to preventing the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.
"I want to thank San Diegans for being patient and following orders to stay at home and use social distancing," said County Supervisor Greg Cox at Sunday's coronavirus press briefing. "That's going to get harder and harder as we get further into this crisis, but it's the best way to slow down the spread of the virus."
Seven county residents have died from COVID-19 so far, while 106 have been hospitalized and 47 admitted into intensive care.
Nearly two-thirds of patients diagnosed with the coronavirus are under the age of 50. While most of the deaths have been among older adults, last week a 25-year-old county resident with no underlying health conditions died from COVID-19. — Andrew Bowen, Metro Reporter
Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship To Dock In San Diego
-4:25 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020
The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship is scheduled to dock in San Diego on Monday after reportedly being refused permission to disembark in Chile amid fears of the coronavirus.
There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 among the ship's roughly 1,500 passengers. They are all being ordered to return straight home and spend 14 days in home isolation, per the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for anyone who traveled on a cruise ship through international waters.
Eric McDonald, medical director for the San Diego County Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch, said it could take between 24 and 48 hours for all the passengers to get off the ship.
"At this time the plan is to have those individuals screen for symptoms, have their temperatures taken and they will be disembarking with plans to go straight to their homes of record," he said in a press conference Sunday.
The Celebrity Eclipse boarded in Buenos Aires on March 1, and was later refused permission to dock in Chile amid fears of potentially infected passengers spreading the coronavirus, according to media reports. — Andrew Bowen, Metro Reporter
Watch San Diego County Update On Coronavirus Cases
-2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020
Imperial County Confirms 4 More COVID-19 Cases
-10:15 a.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020
The Imperial County Health Department said it now has results on all 170 coronavirus tests done so far, and 25 people have tested positive for the virus. That is an increase of four from Saturday. So far, there have been no deaths from COVID-19 in Imperial County. – Gina Diamante, News Editor
Costco Adds Another Hour For Senior Shopping
-9 a.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020
Costco is expanding its senior shopping hours due to high demand. Starting this week, Costco warehouses will open from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for members 60 and older. Members with physical impairments will also be able to shop during that time.
Previously, senior hours had only been available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and long lines had formed outside the stores hours before opening. Members with physical impairments will also be able to shop during that time. – Gina Diamante, News Editor
417 Cases In San Diego, 7 Deaths
-2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020
County officials on Saturday reported a seventh death in San Diego County. The latest victim was a man in his eighties with underlying medical conditions. But health officials stressed that people of all ages can be affected by COVID-19. Just yesterday they had reported the death of a 25-year old man who did not have any other known health issues.
“Just these two deaths reflect the sober reality that COVID can affect individuals at all ages,” said Nick Yphantides, San Diego County's chief medical officer.
Yphantides said the United States now has the leading number of confirmed coronavirus cases. There have been 1,800 deaths worldwide.
In San Diego, there are 488 positive cases and 7 total deaths, which is a 1.67% mortality rate. He added that of these cases, 63% are individuals aged 18-49 years old.
“We have lots of data...we look at the percentage of beds available, ICU beds, negative pressure beds, percentage of those beds creeps in the direction of more. All of these indicators are in the favorable position. We are in the calm before some level of expected viral storm,” Yphantides said.
But, he reiterated Saturday that he expects the number of cases to go up. He says the peak of San Diego’s curve will likely arrive in the coming weeks.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Saturday marked the single largest increase in cases overnight since the onset of the outbreak, with an additional 76 new cases.
“While this is not unexpected, it should be a wake-up call to the public to heed very seriously the public health warnings and orders that have been given. We really are asking for the cooperation of everyone out there. If you are not an essential business you should not be open,” said Fletcher.
On the issue of potential cross-border contamination between Tijuana and San Diego, county epidemiologist Eric McDonald said San Diego county officials are working with Mexican authorities through daily updates. He said the county has a standard process that it uses with Baja California via the binational disease surveillance system. – Shalina Chatlani, KPBS Science & Technology Reporter
– 2:00 p.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020
Governor Gavin Newsom gave an update Saturday on COVID-19 in the state and the number of ventilators available to treat patients after a tour of Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale. The facility is refurbishing hundreds of ventilators to be returned back to the state’s stockpile.
Newsom said that the state of California hasn’t received any ventilators yet from the federal government, and is looking toward the private market for opportunities. He says in this time of crisis, numerous manufacturers and companies throughout Silicon Valley are stepping up to provide resources.
“The state of California, for example, had 514 ventillators that hadn’t been looked at and unboxed since 2011. Many of the batteries… they quite literally were not working,” Newsom said.
The CEO of San Jose-based Bloom Energy, K. R. Sridhar, said the company plans to refurbish and send out more than one hundred ventilators on Saturday alone. The company has already completed work on 80 ventilators and sent them back to the state.
“The healthcare workers, the state employees, who are all facilitating this, there’s an incredible amount of essential service workers helping us as common citizens,” Sridhar said.
“When you see one of them, I think for us, as the average resident in California, the minimum we can do is reach out and say thank you,” he said.
Newsom said California has currently procured over 4,000 ventilators. Over a thousand need to be refurbished. The goal is to get to 10,000.
“That’s the spirit of California, that’s the spirit of this moment. Take responsibility, take ownership,” Newsom said. “Three hundred-fifty manufacturers have come to the state saying we want to offer a similar approach to retooling our facilities and meeting this moment.”
Newsom said that overnight from Friday to Saturday the number of patients admitted into ICU went up 105% in California, while hospitalization numbers went up about 38%.
“If you’ve got old equipment, send it our way, and we’ll send it right here to this facility,” Newsom said. “We can bend those curves by bending to the entrepreneurial capacity we know resides in the state and across the nation.” – Shalina Chatlani, KPBS Science and Technology Reporter
California News Updates: Farmworkers wary of COVID-19 Spread, Surge In Cases Threatens Hospital Capacity, Restaurants Hit Hard
-11:00 a.m., Saturday March 28, 2020
California farms are still working to supply food to much of the United States amid the coronavirus. But some farmworkers are anxious about the virus spreading among them. Many travel in groups to fields and say employers show no regard for social distancing. Some farms are keeping workers spaced out and asking them to wear gloves and use hand sanitizer. If workers are sidelined by illness, it could jeopardize crop yields and disrupt the food supply.
California is beginning to see the surge of coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm hospitals. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said California's cases grew 26% in a day. Johns Hopkins University tallied more than 4,700 California cases as of Friday afternoon, with at least 97 deaths. State officials have been preparing for a surge in hospitalizations and have scrambled to create the estimated 50,000 additional beds that could be needed. Help arrived Friday in the form of the Navy hospital ship Mercy that docked in the Port of Los Angeles. It has 1,000 beds and will be used to treat non-COVID-19 patients to free up hospitals for virus cases.
California's restaurant industry, which has been hit hard by restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus, is warning that 30% of its businesses could close permanently without help from the state. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom sent Friday, the California Restaurant Association says directives that have closed sit-down dining rooms around the state have nearly decimated the industry. Among its proposals in a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the group wants a delay in planned minimum-wage increases and a postponement in property and other tax payments. The California Labor Federation says it would strongly oppose any effort to roll back scheduled minimum wage increases. – Associated Press
Imperial County Reports 21 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
– 8:55 a.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020
Health officials in Imperial County say they have now confirmed 21 cases of COVID-19. The new number was released late Friday, and is an increase of four from Thursday. County officials say they have tested 170 people. 140 of those tests came back negative. Results are still pending for nine tests. – Gina Diamante, KPBS Editor
San Diego Taking Applications For Small Business Relief
– 8:53 a.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020
At a Friday Afternoon press conference, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that the city's $6.1 million small business relief fund is now accepting applications. The fund will provide loans and grants between $10,000 and $20,000 to help local businesses of under 100 employees stay afloat and limit job losses during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses can apply at SanDiego.gov. – Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS Immigration Reporter
MTS To Continue Regular Bus, Trolley Service Through April 12
– 8:21 a.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will continue running normal weekday and weekend service through April 12, transit officials announced Friday.
"We want our riders to know they can depend on us right now," said MTS CEO Paul Jablonski. "There have been a lot of changes in everyone's lives lately. Transit service will stay the same at least through April 12 to afford our passengers needed transit in the safest environment possible.
"Trolley and bus service will continue to be monitored," he said. "If MTS makes changes, we will be sure that everyone knows when and if service levels are going to change."
To keep passengers and employees safe, MTS has implemented strict sanitizing procedures on all vehicles and stations.
Additionally, MTS implemented the following strategies to help with social distancing:
— increased the distance separating passengers from the bus operator to 6 feet. The standee line was moved 48 inches toward the rear of the bus;
— provided every operator with hand sanitizer and gloves;
— for security personnel checking fares on trolleys, all inspections are done on station platforms instead of onboard trolleys. Visual inspection of fares is allowed;
— all MTS vehicles are cleaned daily, with additional deep cleanings using bleach to disinfect, and other solutions recommended by the CDC;
— disinfectant is used to wipe down exposed surfaces nightly;
— posted personal hygiene rules on vehicles;
— posted social distancing messaging on all electronic signage and at trolley stations;
— established handwashing stations at all trolley stops; and
— increased daily cleanings on the internal and external surfaces of trolleys and at major transit stops. -City News Service
San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Increase By 76 To 417
– 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2020
San Diego County health officials Friday reported 76 new COVID-19 cases Friday -- the largest day-over-day increase to date, along with two deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 417 and the death toll to five.
The virus claimed the lives of a man in his mid-50s and a man in his early 80s, according to officials.
Of the positive-testing individuals, 85 have been hospitalized, with 38 of those patients listed as critical.
A 25-year-old pharmacy technician and resident of San Diego County died of the illness in the Riverside County community of La Quinta on Wednesday, according to that county's public health officer, but his death was not included in the San Diego County data.
San Diego County health officials also confirmed the death of one of the passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship, who was among those who had been placed under federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. His death was also not included in the county figures.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology, said the 86-year-old man was one of a handful of patients from the cruise ship remaining in the county. The majority were sent home after their two-week quarantine. — City News Service
First San Diego Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19
- 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2020
A San Diego police officer from the Western Division became the first law enforcement officer in the city of San Diego to test positive for COVID-19, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Friday.
Three lifeguards from San Diego Fire-Rescue Department have also tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, he said. That brings the number of public safety professionals who have tested positive to six, he said.
Recognizing that the weekend is here, Faulconer reminded San Diegans that city parks, beaches and hiking trails are all closed.
“They stayed at work for you, stay at home for them,” he said, referring to public safety and healthcare professionals who are still working during the pandemic while many people are home sheltering in place.
Also, small businesses that have been negatively affected by the pandemic can start applying for microloans through the city’s small business relief fund at 5 p.m. Friday.
Details on how to apply for the loans are on the city’s website, sandiego.gov/coronavirus. — Alexander Nguyen, web editor
San Diego County Confirms Three New COVID-19 Deaths
– 2:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2020
San Diego County health officials confirmed three new COVID-19 related deaths Friday afternoon, bringing the total number of deaths to six.
The deaths included one man in his mid-50s and another male in his early 80s. The county also reported the death of a 25-year-old male San Diego County resident in Riverside County. Officials said the man contracted the virus outside Riverside County but had been self-quarantining in La Quinta when he died.
Additionally, an 86-year-old man who had been a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship and was in federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar died at a San Diego-area hospital Friday, county health officials confirmed.
He was not a San Diego County resident and therefore won't be included in the county's count.
County officials also announced that quarantine operations at MCAS Miramar have ended.
Oceanside Councilman Forfeits Salary To Help Local Residents, Businesses
– 2:19 p.m., March 27, 2020
Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez announced Friday he would give up the salary he earns in his council post to help local residents and businesses as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.
"In this time of great need and uncertainty for Oceanside residents, I have decided to forfeit my salary as an Oceanside city councilman and ask that the amount be directed to the programs the city is launching to help the businesses and residents affected by the current shutdown," he said in a statement. "Cooperation and solidarity are demanded of us in this time of great crisis."
Rodriguez, a former Marine, added that the city "will be acting to assist residents and local employers" and said he is "hopeful these programs will lessen the financial impact on our friends and neighbors."
"We will get through this by following the advice of our public health officials to ensure we all remain safe and healthy, and each of us doing our part to keep our city moving forward," said Rodriguez, a real estate agent and farmer.
Oceanside City Council members earn $2,832.75 a month, or $33,993 yearly. – City News Matters
– 1:00 p.m., Friday March 27, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference Friday at the Port of Los Angeles to announce the arrival of the USNS Mercy hospital ship and to provide a state update on the COVID-19 outbreak.
Newsom and Mayor Garcetti both declared their enthusiasm over the arrival of USNS Mercy which will be used to treat non-COVID-19 patients which will free up bed space in the region's hospitals for people who need treatment for COVID-19.
Newsom and Garcetti gave thanks to President Donald Trump for deploying the Mercy to Los Angeles. The mayor said the ship immediately becomes the largest hospital in the city — at full capacity increasing the area's available hospital beds by two-thirds.
He said the Mercy will be a "COVID-19-free bubble" to take stress off medical centers.
"By every person who comes in ... every bed not taken in Los Angeles by the great work of the men and women here will mean one more bed for the surge the governor spoke about," Garcetti said. "This truly is mercy on the water."
Mercy is staffed by more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff, and 70-plus civil service mariners who operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the medical facility running.
The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults, according to the Navy. This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their intensive care units and ventilators for those patients.
Newsom also added that the state government had procured 109 million surgical masks as well as millions of gloves and gowns for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients. The state has procured nearly 5,000 ventilators. Newsom said the state goal is 10,000 to support the anticipated influx of COVID-19 cases in the coming tests.
Newsom also announced the state has issued an order banning evictions of tenants who have been directly impacted by COVID-19. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19.
Gov. Newsom Declares Moratorium On Evictions Because Of COVID-19
– 12:55 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday issued an executive order banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020.
The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19.
The tenant would be required to retain documentation but not required to submit it to the landlord in advance. And the tenant would remain obligated to repay full rent in “a timely manner” and could still face eviction after the enforcement moratorium is lifted.
The order takes effect immediately and provides immediate relief to tenants for whom rent is due on April 1.
Applications Open Late Friday For San Diego Small Business Relief Fund
– 12:25 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020
San Diego small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for the city's Small Business Relief Fund starting at 5 p.m. Friday.
The $6.1 million fund provides grants and micro-loans ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 to help local small businesses retain employees and stay afloat amid various federal, state and local public health orders aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the economic relief package last week, which has since increased from an initial $4 million announced by the city to $6.1 million.
The program is open to businesses that can show they have sustained economic hardship due to COVID-19, have a city business license and have been in operation for at least six months, Faulconer said in an announcement earlier this week.
Businesses with more than 100 employees, nonprofits and home-based businesses are among those ineligible for the fund.
Applications will be posted at 5 p.m. at sandiego.gov, according to city officials. — City News Service
Legoland California Extends Closure Until April 15
– 12:25 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020
Citing the ongoing pandemic and recent changes in the COVID-19 situation, Legoland California extended its temporary closure Friday until at least April 15.
The closure includes the main park, water park, Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Hotels.
"The health and safety of our guests and our staff remains our top priority and we'll continue to follow the safety measures recommended within the federal, state and CDC guidelines," park spokesman Jake Gonzales said in a statement.
Visitors with pre-existing reservations during the closure can cancel for a full refund or reschedule without penalty or additional charge — excluding the month of July 2020, and Dec. 26 - Jan.3, 2021.
For more information, visit Legoland.com/covid-19/. — City News Service
Jamul Casino to Extend COVID-19 Related Closure For Another Two Weeks
– 12:25 p.m. March 27, 2020
Jamul Casino will extend its coronavirus-related closure for another two weeks, after initially planning to reopen at the end of the month.
The casino is now slated to reopen April 12, following its closure last week in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The safety and well-being of their tribal members, guests, and team members of Jamul Casino are of the utmost importance to the tribe, and they have issued a declaration of emergency to respond to the crisis," according to a statement released Thursday.
Jamul was one of several tribal casinos in San Diego County that announced it would close its doors to protect the public and employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Barona Resort & Casino, Golden Acorn Casino, Sycuan Casino Resort and Viejas Casino & Resort have also closed their doors to the public.
"The Tribes are united in this decision to close for the health and well-being of the community, their guests and approximately 9,000 employees," a joint statement announcing the closures last week read. "Despite this closure, it is their hope that they can continue to provide emergency services for their respective communities." — City News Service
Nurse At Women's Detention Facility In Santee Tests Positive For COVID-19
– 8:25 a.m. March 27, 2020
Nine employees of a women's detention facility in Santee are self-quarantining today after a nurse at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus.
The nurse, who works at Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility, has been isolating at home since feeling ill on Sunday, according to Lt. Ricardo Lopez of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
The nurse did not have any contact with inmates, but nine employees are self-quarantining at home "out of an abundance of caution," Lopez said.
Thirty-one employees of the sheriff's department have experienced flu- like symptoms and have self-quarantined during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Lopez. Two others, aside from the nurse, have been tested for COVID-19. Those results are pending. -City News Service
San Diego COVID-19 Cases Doubled Since Sunday
– 6 p.m. March 26, 2020
The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County rose to 341 Thursday, an increase of 64 cases over Wednesday, the county reported.
That's the largest increase since the outbreak began; the number has doubled since Sunday.
Of the positive-testing individuals, 69 have been hospitalized, with 31 of those patients listed as critical. County health officials stopped counting non-county residents Thursday, but there were 20 positive-testing individuals in that category Wednesday.
The county also reported a third county death — a woman in her 80s. — City News Service
– 5:16 p.m. March 26, 2020
Reported crime in the San Diego area has decreased notably since the coronavirus pandemic led Gov. Gavin Newsom to direct Californians to shelter in their homes as much as possible as a means of slowing the spread of the disease, local law enforcement officials said Thursday.
For the San Diego Police Department, calls for service dipped by 11% over a five-day period ending last Thursday, as compared with the comparable time span the previous week, according to SDPD public-affairs Lt. Shawn Takeuchi. "It's very calm out there," he noted this afternoon.
While stressing he could not conclusively tie the trend to the societal restrictions spurred by the COVID-19 emergency, Takeuchi said it was "safe to say that with businesses ... shuttered, with schools not in session, it's reasonable to believe that less calls (would be) made to the San Diego Police Department."
Likewise, officials with the police departments in Chula Vista and Oceanside described significant drops in service calls over the last several weeks, though they could provide no hard numbers.
The California Highway Patrol, for its part, has reported dramatically lessened traffic throughout the San Diego region since the public health crisis began prompting societal shutdowns across the state and nation. -City News Service
City Faces $109M Budget Shortfall Due To Economic Impact Of COVID-19
– 4:30 p.m. March 26, 2020
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday that the city is facing a $109 million revenue shortfall over the next four months due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $109 million figure comes from projections that the city will lose $26 million in sales taxes and $83 million in hotel tourism taxes, the city's second and third largest revenue sources.
The city's adopted budget for 2020 is $4.3 billion.
The city is expected to receive some relief from the federal government's $2 trillion stimulus package, however, the mayor and Councilman Scott Sherman expect that "difficult decisions" will have to be made in order to balance the budget.
Sherman said that "core services" will be a priority for the city moving forward and that cuts to non essential city services are expected. – Chris Underwood, web producer
– 3:15 p.m., March 26, 2020
An 87-year-old woman became the third person from San Diego County to die of COVID-19, county chief medical officer Dr. Nick Yphantides announced Wednesday.
She is the second person to die in the county from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. On Tuesday, the county announced a 76-year-man died from the disease. Over the weekend, a San Diego man in his early 70s died in Santa Clara County. Even though he didn't die in San Diego County, health officials included his death in the total count because he was a county resident.
“We are still in the eye of the (virus) storm,” Yphantides said. There is evidence of substantial spread of the virus in the county, he added.
Yphantides reiterated what county officials have been saying since the pandemic started, there are not enough testing kits for everyone. That’s why the county is recommending that people with mild to moderate symptoms not get tested so that tests can be prioritized for medical workers, people with severe symptoms and people with underlying health conditions.
He did acknowledge that more testing would improve the epidemiology modeling, but right now the county does not have that capacity.
As part of the county’s effort to increase hospital capacity to fight the virus, Rady Children’s Hospital announced that it will increase the age for admission up to people in their mid-20s to free up beds at other hospitals for adult patients. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Padres Cancel Opening Day, Provide Lunch To Local Health Care Workers
– 12 p.m., March 26, 2020
Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day, but the San Diego Padres announced it has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Major League Baseball previously announced that it would delay the season by two weeks but the team said it is unsure when baseball season will return.
However, in recognition of Opening Day, the Padres said the team is partnering with Phil's BBQ to provide meals for UCSD Health and the San Diego Blood Bank. Also, God Bless America will be played at an empty Petco Park in solidarity with the country.
The Padres said the organization would be in contact with ticket holders regarding postponed games. – Chris Underwood, web producer
Coronavirus-Stricken Chula Vista Councilman Padilla Making Progress In ICU
– 7:11 a.m., March 26, 2020
Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla is making "slow, steady progress in overcoming COVID-19," Ashleigh Padilla, his daughter, wrote Wednesday.
The councilman remains on a ventilator in the ICU, but he is now in stable condition, she wrote.
“My dad is a fighter, and he’s fighting through this -- with the help of amazing doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who are caring for him. We’re hopeful that he’s reached a turning point and will be home soon."
San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Jump To Nearly 300
– 6:10 p.m., March 25, 2020
The number of coronavirus cases in San Diego County reached 297 Wednesday, an increase of 55 from Tuesday, tying the highest day-over-day increase in COVID-19 cases so far.
Of the nearly 300 positive-testing individuals, 59 have been hospitalized, with 29 of those patients listed as critical. The number of coronavirus deaths in San Diego County — two — remained unchanged.
Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology, presented a bleak report at an afternoon briefing, stating that if social distancing is not maintained by the public, and cases double every three days, the county's hospital beds will be filled by April 14. Even if the cases double every six days, healthcare providers are likely looking at full bed capacity by mid-May, he said.
Of the 297 people in San Diego County with positive diagnoses, health officials said 277 are county residents and 20 are not. Men testing positive outnumbered women 185-112.
Of the 59 patients who have been hospitalized, 57 are county residents. Twenty-eight of those hospitalized were in intensive care units, as was one non-county resident.
Cases in patients between 20 and 59 formed the bulk of the total, 236 overall or 79% of cases.
McDonald said that statistic probably represented a testing bias, as members of the military, first-responders and healthcare workers fall most frequently into that age group and those groups are tested at rates much higher than the general population.
McDonald said the county would, beginning Thursday, cease counting non-county residents in daily coronavirus updates. — City News Service
– 4:30 p.m., March 25, 2020
The San Diego City Council Wednesday unanimously approved an immediate eviction moratorium to provide relief to residents and businesses facing financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council, which convened an emergency meeting, also unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar small business relief fund proposed last week by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
The emergency law temporarily halting evictions in San Diego will last until May 31. Tenants must demonstrate a "substantial decrease in income or medical expenses" caused by COVID-19 in order to qualify. It will not relieve a tenant of their requirement to pay rent or restrict a landlord from recovering rent at a future time.
"San Diegans shouldn't have to worry about losing their home or storefront during this public health emergency, and now relief is here," Faulconer said. "The temporary eviction moratorium is accompanied by millions of dollars to help small businesses stay afloat and keep San Diegans employed. I applaud the city council, city attorney and city staff for taking quick action to help our community." — City News Service
County Officials Reiterate Need For Community Commitment To Social Distancing, Hygiene
– 2:30 p.m., March 25, 2020
San Diego County officials on Wednesday reiterated the importance of community commitment to the county's COVID-19 guidelines regarding social distancing, isolation and hygiene.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that things are expected to get worse and that the county is expecting more cases and more deaths in the coming weeks.
"The actions that we're taking will mitigate that," Fletcher added.
County epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said that moving forward, the county will no longer include non-county residents in the county's official case count. — Chris Underwood, web producer
Right now, about 20% of all local COVID-19 cases required hospitalization, 9% required intensive care, and about 1% of patients have died, McDonald said.
The county has received about 30% of the medical supplies the county has been asked for from the state of California, said Robert Sills, the head of San Diego County's Public Health Preparedness and Response(PHPR) Branch.
The county has made another request for more equipment and that right now, they are prioritizing equipment for healthcare workers who are actively assessing and treating patents, as well as first responders transporting patients.
Currently, 50% of the county's supply of ventilators are available for use. The county has placed orders with manufacturers for more ventilators, but Stills admits that at this time, it's unknown if there are enough ventilators without knowing how many cases the county will see. – Chris Underwood, web producer
– 12:45 p.m., March 25, 2020
Four of the five major national banks have agreed to a 90-day forbearance on mortgage payments for those affected by COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.
Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi and JP Morgan Chase have all agreed to waive mortgage payments for 90 days. Bank of America was the only one that did not commit to the 90-day forbearance. The bank has only committed to a 30-day forbearance, Newsom said.
State-charter banks and credit unions have also agreed to the 90-day forbearance. Newsom said it is important to have a coordinated relief effort for families instead of a patchwork of relief like what happened during the housing bubble collapse in 2008.
There is no income requirement for mortgage relief, but there needs to be evidence that the homeowners have been affected by COVID-19, Newsom said. But it won’t be as laborious as it was during the housing crisis in 2008, he added.
More than 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 13. Under the stimulus package deal that was just reached, the federal government will add $600 on top of the state benefits, Newsom said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer
Father Joe's Testing for COVID-19 Among Homeless As It Plans Transition
– 12:03 p.m., March 25, 2020
Father Joe's Villages screened four people with flu- like symptoms at its homeless shelters, the nonprofit announced Wednesday as it discussed its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One member of a family and three single women were showing symptoms similar to coronavirus Tuesday, the organization's leaders said. Two of the individuals were sent to emergency departments and the other two were sent to self-isolation in motel rooms San Diego County has secured for that purpose.
"We are awaiting test results. It's very possible that none of these individuals have COVID-19; it is cold season," said Dr. Jeffrey Norris, Father Joe's medical director. "We have not yet seen a positive test among those experiencing homelessness. We have been following our procedure, and those showing symptoms were quickly removed from shared spaces and the spaces were sanitized."
Norris said test results after an initial swab could take three to five days. – City News Service
Civilian Employee At Navy Childcare Facility Tests Positive For COVID-19
– 10:35 a.m., March 25, 2020
A civilian employee working at the Naval Air Station North Island child development center tested positive for COVID-19, the Navy announced today.
The employee tested positive on Sunday and Navy leadership was notified on Monday.
The individual is currently at home taking precautions consistent with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Navy officials said.
Naval Base Coronado's public health emergency officer conducted a contact investigation to determine whether any staff or children may have been in close contact with the employee and possibly exposed. After careful review of the case and taking into account the employee's nearly 14-day absence from the facility since March 11, the fact that no children or employees are showing any COVID-19 symptoms and the thoroughly extensive daily sanitation standards practiced by the staff, the officer made the decision to continue operations at the North Island child development center. – City News Service
– 10:30 a.m., March 25, 2020
Prospective jurors in San Diego County are cleared from jury service through May 22 in light of the California Chief Justice's recent order suspending all state jury trials for two months to stem the spread of the coronavirus, court officials said Wednesday.
County residents summoned to appear for jury service any time between March 16 and May 22 can consider their jury service fulfilled, according to a statement from the San Diego Superior Court.
Earlier this week, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye issued an order suspending all jury trials for 60 days, in which she said recent statewide health directives and the closures of numerous institutions such as schools have made it "nearly impossible for courts to assemble juries." – City News Service
San Diego County Reports Second COVID-19 Death, Two Infant Cases
– 8:31 p.m., March 24, 2020
San Diego County officials announced Tuesday that another person has died from COVID-19.
The person who died was a 76-year-old man with underlying health issues, according to Public Health Office Dr. Wilma Wooten. The county also reported two cases of coronavirus disease in infants, a 6-week-old boy and a 4-month-old girl. Both are currently isolated in their homes.
Wooten said cases are increasing daily and that she doesn't expect things to get better anytime soon.
“Things are likely to get worse before they get better. We do not believe that the local wave of COVID-19 cases has yet crested,” said Wooten. “It’s incumbent upon on all of us to do our part to flatten the curve.”
County officials reiterated the importance of continuing social distancing and isolation as a way to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus.
Separately, officials also commented on the county's policy towards retail gun stores.
Sheriff Bill Gore stated they can remain in operation for now, but that walk-in customers are prohibited. Customers will need to make appointments with retailers in advance to purchase firearms or ammunition. Gore said this is in accordance with the county's health order on social distancing to prevent groups or gatherings.
Gore said that the sheriff's department wants people to engage in voluntary social distancing versus the department having to enforce it on the public. However, if necessary, the department is prepared to issue citations, such as fines up to $1,000 or jail time up to 6 months.
"While we must be mindful of the governor’s executive order we also need to ensure that we do not create further public safety risks by driving firearms into an underground or off books black market," Gore said.
So far, no citations have been issued, according to Gore.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher also reiterated the county's efforts to support local business and residents by imposing a moratorium on evictions for renters. He also said that the county has received its first shipment of medical supplies from the state.
Also, Fletcher said that about $950,000 has been granted out from the county emergency fund to individuals who are in need of financial assistance. — Chris Underwood, web producer
San Diego Unified To Close Schools Indefinitely, Launch Online Learning
– 7:30 p.m., March 24, 2020
San Diego Unified School District announced late Tuesday that school facilities will remain indefinitely closed during the coronavirus pandemic until public health officials determine it is safe for students to return to school.
It also announced a “soft launch” of online instruction on April 6, when schools were originally planned to reopen. Teachers will begin online instruction and determine which of its more than 100,000 students are unable to participate.
On April 27, the district will officially move to formal instruction and grading but schools will remain closed.
San Diego Unified, in a joint decision with Los Angeles Unified, closed all of its more than 200 schools on March 16. Other school districts across the county followed suit. have. — Joe Hong, Education Reporter.
City Of San Diego Gives Update On COVID-19 Outbreak
– 4:30 P.M., March 24, 2020
Watch the news conference below:
San Diego Mayor Faulconer announced Tuesday the city has moved homeless families who had been staying at Golden Hall into hotel rooms to make room for single homeless women from the city's bridge shelters.
Also, Faulconer said that the city is moving towards passing a moratorium on evictions in the city of San Diego, similar to a county ordinance announced the same day. In addition, the city is working to prepare an economic relief package for businesses and residents financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
– 1:51 p.m., March 24, 2020
The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a moratorium on evictions for both residents and small businesses located in the unincorporated area in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The policy, which was put forward in a resolution sponsored by Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Kristin Gaspar, will give authority to the county's chief administrative officer to work with financial institutions to halt foreclosures and foreclosure-related evictions; and allow the county Housing Authority to extend the deadline for recipients, including those who receive Section 8 support.
The protections are provided retroactively to March 4, when Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency over the pandemic.
Fletcher said the resolution "is a prudent step to protect folks in a period of economic distress."
– City News Service
– 11:50 a.m., March 24
UC San Diego Health along with three other UC Health medical centers are launching clinical trials for antiviral drug treatment for COVID-19, the university announced Tuesday.
"Physician-scientists at four University of California Health medical centers — UC San Diego Health, UC San Francisco, UC Irvine Health and UC Davis Health — have begun recruiting participants for a Phase II clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of treating adult patients with COVID-19 with remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has shown activity in animal models and human clinical trials of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, Ebola, Marburg and other viruses," UCSD said in a statement.
The drug, remdesivir, has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment, but it's undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of multiple viral diseases, including COVID-19.
The trials are set to begin with small groups of participants, all of whom will be patients hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19. They also have to be patients in the UC Health system.
“Due to the evolving, fluid nature of this research and what we’re learning daily about the virus and about improving treatment, the trial is designed to be adaptive, to shift investigation to the most promising avenues,” said co-principal investigator Dr. Constance Benson, professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health.
The trial will run through April 1, 2023, and will involve an estimated 440 participants. — Chris Underwood, web producer
San Diego Hospitals Launching Drives For Personal Protective Equipment
– 10:40 a.m., March 24
UC San Diego Health launched a donation website Tuesday to help those on the front lines in the fight against novel coronavirus, joining other hospitals and health organizations as they manage limited supplies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has strained daily life across communities, countries and continents, but has particularly impacted the health care industry, according to a UC San Diego Health statement. County health officials have acknowledged some shortfalls on supplies, while other supplies have a deep reservoir from which to draw.
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