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Live Blog: Mayor Faulconer Announces Fiesta Island, Balboa Park And Other COVID-19 Reopening Timelines

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WATCH: Mayor Faulconer Announces Fiesta Island, Balboa Park And Other COVID-19 Reopening Timelines

– 5:30 p.m., June 4, 2020

Piers, boardwalks and other water areas in San Diego that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic will reopen next week, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thursday.

San Diego piers and boardwalks, Fiesta Island, East and West Mission Bay Park, and Balboa Park Central Mesa will reopen over the course of next week, starting Monday.

Visitors will continue to be asked to practice physical distancing and refrain from any active sports activities at the beaches, Faulconer said. — City News Service

County COVID-19 Cases Near 8,000, Deaths Rise to 288

– 3:50 p.m., June 4, 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County approached 8,000 Thursday as public health officials reported 142 new cases and five deaths.

The new data raises the total county cases to 7,940 and the deaths in the region to 288.

A total of 3,714 tests were reported Thursday, with around 4% of those testing positive for the respiratory illness. The county's rolling 14-day average of positive tests is 2.9% and has been trending slowly downward for several weeks.

Of those testing positive, 17.4%, or 1,383, have been hospitalized and 5%, or 395, have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

Of the five deaths reported Thursday, four were men and one was a woman. Their ages ranged from 38 to 91, and all but one had an underlying medical condition. —City News Service

Loan Applications Open For Small Businesses In Unincorporated Areas Affected By COVID-19

– 3:30 p.m., June 4, 2020

A new low-interest loan program for small businesses in San Diego County's unincorporated area is now accepting applications.

Businesses with 50 employees or less hit by COVID-19-related losses can seek loans between $5,500 and $50,000 under the county-approved program initiated by county supervisors Jim Desmond and Dianne Jacob.

"Our small businesses have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, many of which have not received federal or state relief," Desmond said. "We want to make sure our county businesses can survive during this difficult time."

The initiative is part of the San Diego County COVID-19 Small Business & Nonprofit Loan Program. Businesses can apply at https://us.accion.org/covidrelief. Nonprofits seeking assistance through the program should visit www.SanDiegoSBNLP.org. — City News Services

COVID-19 Unemployment Leading To Rise In Drug Overdoses

*– 3 p.m., June 4, 2020

As COVID-19-related economic woes continue, doctors both nationally and locally expect to see a subsequent uptick in the number of drug overdose deaths, according to a report released Thursday by San Diego-based health nonprofit Institute for Public Strategies.

According to Dr. Roneet Lev, emergency physician at Scripps Mercy emergency department, and former chief medical officer at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the number of overdose cases she has treated in San Diego has increased.

"When the pandemic happened, we were waiting for an onslaught of COVID-19 cases. It didn't come. What did come, unfortunately, were more cases of drug poisoning," she said.

Dr. Lev found herself intubating and placing more fentanyl overdose patients on ventilators -- equipment central to concerns over their availability during the pandemic -- than COVID-19 patients.

The unemployment rate is one of the indicators defined by the County of San Diego's Live Well initiative that determine how well San Diego County residents can live healthy lives. According to the San Diego Association of Governments, unemployment in the San Diego region reached an all-time high of 26.8% between April 18 and April 25, beating the 24.9% rate recorded in the United States at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933. With the easing of restrictions on businesses starting May 8, however, SANDAG predicts that unemployment may begin to fall.

Lev said drug overdoses are expected to increase because of the uncertain economic situation created by business closures and unemployment. — City News Service

San Diego Seals Will Not Complete Rest of Season, Look To Next Year

– 10:30 a.m., June 4, 2020

The National Lacrosse League and its local affiliate the San Diego Seals announced Thursday the league is focusing its attention and efforts on preparing for the next season and has decided not to complete the 2019-20 season due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

The decision Thursday follows the cancellation of the regular season, which was announced on April 6 after suspension of the regular season on March 12.

"While we are disappointed that we will not be able to complete our 2019-20 season, we understand and respect the decision made by the NLL," said Seals President Steve Govett. "On behalf of the entire San Diego Seals organization, I'd like to say thank you to all of our fans and partners for their unwavering support. The safety of our fans, partners, players and staff is our top priority. We are dedicated to the San Diego community and will be ready for a safe and healthy return."

The San Diego Seals conclude their second season with a 6-6 record, winning five of their last six games. The team was led by forward Wesley Berg, who finished with 58 points — 19 goals, 39 assists — and forward Zack Greer, who finished with a team-high 21 goals.

"This isn't how any of us pictured our season coming to an end," said General Manager and Head Coach Patrick Merrill. "We will use this opportunity to build on what we had this year to ensure we are ready for the start of the 2020-21 season. The team had some positive momentum building and will continue to get stronger. We are committed to bring a championship-caliber team to San Diego and we can't wait to get back on the floor."

The Seals will return to Pechanga Arena for the 2020-21 National Lacrosse League season. Dates for the start of the 35th season of the NLL will be announced this fall. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 124 New Coronavirus Cases, 7 New Deaths

– 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 3, 2020

San Diego County health officials on Wednesday reported another 124 coronavirus cases, along with seven new deaths, raising the county totals to 7,798 cases and 283 deaths.

County Supervisors Vote To Extend Moratorium On Evictions

– 4:09 p.m., Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend a moratorium on evictions for both residents and small businesses for another month, in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, along with board Chairman Greg Cox, made the request, which was unanimously approved.

The board first approved an eviction moratorium in late March.

"By extending the moratorium, we are giving families and business owners another tool to assist in their recovery from the pandemic," Fletcher said. "The Board of Supervisors did the right thing today." – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 120 Coronavirus Cases, Seven Deaths As Beaches Open

– 3:49 p.m., Thursday, June 2, 2020

County public health officials reported 120 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths Tuesday, as beaches across the region reopened for passive recreation activities like sunbathing.

After two days of new cases dipping below triple digits, the 120 cases raises the county total to 7,674. The deaths reported Tuesday — the first reported in two days — raise the county's death toll to 276.

The deaths were five men and two women who ranged in age from 46 to 94, and all but one had an underlying health condition.

Public health officials also recorded 3,939 coronavirus tests Tuesday, and said the 120 positive tests comprise 3% of the total number. The county's 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 2.9% of the total number of tests.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, 17.5% of those testing positive have been hospitalized and 5% have spent time in intensive care units.

As a result of numbers trending in the right direction, San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox said passive recreation could be allowed at county beaches beginning Tuesday.

A few restrictions remain, however, as the county still has a ban on team sports such as football and volleyball. Additionally, beach parking lots and piers remain closed.

Reopening of boardwalks is up to each coastal city, and as always, social distancing and facial coverings are the rule when near people who aren't a member of the household. – City News Service

Passive Recreation Activities Now Allowed At San Diego County Beaches

– 7:05 a.m., Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Passive recreation activities, like sunbathing, will be allowed at beaches throughout San Diego County starting Tuesday, as reported COVID-19 cases countywide have dipped below triple digits over the past two days.

San Diego County Public Health Services officials reported 73 new COVID-19 cases on Monday — down from 96 reported on Sunday — bringing the county total to 7,554. No new deaths were reported for the second straight day, keeping the toll at 269.

Public health officials also recorded 3,655 coronavirus tests Monday, and said the 73 positive tests comprise 2% of the total number. The county's 14- day rolling average of positive tests is 2.9% of the total number of tests.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, 17.6% of those testing positive have been hospitalized and 5.1% have spent time in intensive care units.

As a result of numbers trending in the right direction, San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox said passive recreation will be allowed at county beaches beginning Tuesday.

A few restrictions remain, however, as the county still has a ban on team sports such as football and volleyball. Additionally, beach parking lots and piers remain closed.

Reopening of boardwalks is up to each coastal city, and as always, social distancing and facial coverings are the rule when near people who aren't a member of the household. — City News Service

73 New Coronavirus Cases, No New Deaths Reported

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, June 1, 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County crossed the 7,500 mark Monday, but the death toll remained unchanged at 269.

Public health officials reported 73 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county total to 7,554.

San Diego County Public Health Services officials also recorded 3,655 coronavirus tests Monday, and said the 73 positive tests comprise 2% of the total number. The county's 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 2.9% of the total number of tests.

WATCH NOW:

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, 17.6% of those testing positive have been hospitalized and 5.1% have spent time in intensive care units.

Greg Cox, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said Monday that a new state-run testing site will open Tuesday at the San Ysidro Civic Center at 212 West Park Ave. The site will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Appointments are required and those can be made through https://Lhi.care/covidtesting or 888-634-1123. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Addresses Weekend Protests, Decries Violence And Looting

– 1 p.m., Monday, June 1, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he welcomed the rage of protesters as long as they are peaceful, but he denounced unnamed groups of anarchists and others who used the demonstrations to tag graffiti on buildings, burn banks, shatter store windows and run off with armloads of goods.

"The looting, the violence, the threats against fellow human beings: That has no place in this state and in this nation,” Newsom said. “Those that want to express themselves and have: Thank you. God bless you. Keep doing it. Your rage is real, express it so that we can hear it, let’s not let others drown out that rage.”

WATCH here:

Newsom called up 4,500 National Guard troops to supplement overwhelmed police in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Monica as new demonstrations resumed Monday after waves of violence followed passionate weekend protests over the killing of a handcuffed black man held down by white Minneapolis police officers.

Some protesters skirmished with police in riot gear, officers fired nonlethal rounds and tear gas into crowds, military vehicles rolled through normally sedate beachfront cities and black smoke rose from torched police cars and smoldering shops. — Associated Press

Amtrak Partially Reopens Central Coast Service

- 6:20 a.m., Monday, June 1

Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner train service to Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo is partially up and running Monday, for the first time since being derailed by the Coronavirus.

The changes are the first step to bringing back full service along 100 miles of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo coastal rail corridor, known as LOSSAN.

Some train and bus connections have continued to operate as authorized essential services, providing options for those who must travel. Those connections have been especially important for the San Luis Obispo region, since a portion of its airline service has been suspended, according to the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency.

The following changes will go into effect at the beginning of June:

— Southbound Train 774 will depart San Luis Obispo at 6:55 a.m. and arrive in San Diego at 3:28 p.m., serving stations in between.

— Two southbound buses will provide connections from San Luis Obispo to Trains 768 and 796, which originate in Goleta/Santa Barbara.

— Northbound Train 777 will depart San Diego at 12:05 p.m. and arrive in San Luis Obispo at 8:36 p.m., serving stations in between.

— Northbound train 785 will depart San Diego at 3:58 p.m. and arrive in Goleta at 10:04 p.m., serving stations in between.

— Two northbound buses will provide connections to San Luis Obispo from trains 763 and 785, which terminate in Santa Barbara/Goleta.

The Coast Starlight, a long-distance Amtrak train, continues to operate one trip daily in each direction through San Luis Obispo.

To help protect the health of passengers and crews, Amtrak has increased the frequency of cleaning services on all trains and at stations, in some cases performing them on an hourly basis. Additionally, passengers are required to wear face coverings at stations and aboard trains.

Travelers on the LOSSAN line are advised to check and adhere to local public health orders in effect for the areas in which they start and end their trips. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 3 Percent Positive Rate With 145 New COVID-19 Cases, 3 New Deaths

– 3:45 p.m. Saturday, May 30

County health officials Saturday reported 145 new positive COVID-19 cases, out of 4,300 new tests. This is a 3 percent positive rate, for a 14-day rolling average of 3.1 percent.

The total positive COVID-19 case count in San Diego county is now 7,385. Of this, 1,314 (17.8 percent) have been hospitalized, and 381 (5.2 percent) required intensive care.

Three additional deaths were also reported, bringing the total in the county to 269. The three deaths were all men, aged 81-96 years, and occurred between May 24 and 27. All three had underlying health conditions.

RELATED: Hypertension Continues To Be Top Underlying Health Condition Among Local COVID-19 Deaths

– KPBS Staff

Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order To Halt Evictions

– 9:20 a.m. Saturday, May 30

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on Friday to extend the authority of local governments in halting evictions for renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The executive order extends this power through July 28.

The order also requires that the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) waive regulations related to Emergency Services Grant funding under the CARES Act, and also orders the agency to streamline their procedures relating to HCD-funded projects affected by the pandemic. The order also adds new flexibilities and lifts statutory set-asides related to the use of Community Development Block Grant program funding under the CARES Act.

In addition, the order also extends waivers for the DMV to allow mail-in transactions, including renewals of driver's licenses and ID cards. The order extends allowances made to help essential infrastructure workers secure child care and afterschool programs.

Furthermore, for students currently enrolled in teacher preparation programs, the order allows them to receive a preliminary teaching credential without a teaching performance assessment if that requirement had been unfulfilled due to COVID-19 school closures. If other specialist credentials require assessments or state testing that was suspended due to stay-at-home orders, some of those requirements are also waived.

The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here.

– KPBS Staff

San Diego Mayor Condemns Minneapolis Officers

– 5:30 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer Friday condemned the actions of a group of former Minneapolis police officers -- one of whom is now charged with murder -- that led to the death of a handcuffed black man and has sparked protests across the country.

Faulconer began his daily news conference, which has typically provided updates on the region's COVID-19 situation, by calling George Floyd's death "a tragedy" and saying he stood with the San Diego Police Department in condemning the officers' actions "in the strongest possible terms."

WATCH here:

Floyd, 46, died Memorial Day after Officer Derek Chauvin pinned him face-down to the ground by placing his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes, during which Floyd repeatedly said that he could not breathe. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 140 New Coronavirus Cases, 6 Deaths

– 3:15 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 140 COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths Friday, raising the county totals to 7,240 cases and 266 deaths.

County health officials recorded 4,624 tests Friday, raising the cumulative total number of tests to 151,910.

The 140 positive tests Friday comprise 3% of the total number, and the 14-day rolling average testing positive is just 3.1%, giving officials like Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, reason to believe the region's cases have "peaked."

Of the positive cases, 17.9% or 1,296 have been hospitalized and 378 of those, or 5.2% of all cases have spent some time in intensive care.

Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors Greg Cox and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher released a joint statement Friday announcing they planned to ask the Board of Supervisors to extend its moratorium on evictions for both residents and small businesses for another month. – City News Service

SD Sheriff’s Department Says No Evictions Planned As State Moratorium Expires

– 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom's moratorium on evictions is set to expire Sunday. Even if he doesn't extend it, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department told KPBS on Friday that it will not resume evictions.

The department had planned to resume evictions earlier this month but backed off after feedback from local officials.

Next week, County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Greg Cox will propose an extension to the county’s own eviction moratorium for unincorporated areas next week. The extension would run until the end of June and cover both residential properties and small businesses.

“Although more businesses are reopening, it is going to take time for merchants and their employees who have been out of work to rebuild their bank accounts enough to pay their rent,” Fletcher said in a statement on Friday. “This will give residential and commercial renters more time to get back on their feet. But we are encouraging renters to pay as much rent as they can and set-up a payment program with their landlords.”

The city of San Diego has already extended its moratorium through June 30. — Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS Reporter

Newsom Addresses Floyd Killing, Counties Reopening

– 3:17 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

During his briefing on Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an emotional response to the killing of George Floyd, and continuing protests in Minneapolis and around the country. Floyd was killed on May 25 by a police officer who has now been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter.

Newsom choked back tears as he shared his children’s reactions to posts on social media about Floyd's death. In anticipation of possible protests over the weekend, the governor urged Californians to express themselves “thoughtfully and gently, but forcefully.”

Turning to the pandemic, the governor repeatedly stressed that although state officials have issued guidance on how California should reopen, the pace of reopening will be determined by officials at the local level.

WATCH here:

“We put out the how, counties decide when,” said Newsom.

Newsom also said that 1.8 million people in California have been tested for the coronavirus so far, adding that the state has gone from performing around 2,000 tests a day, to over 50,000.

The governor gave a breakdown of positive cases and deaths by race, showing that 54.6% of cases, and 38.5% of deaths, were among Latino residents, while Latinos make up 38.9% of California's population, according to state data. — Alexandra Hall, KQED

Sales In County Drop By Nearly $2.3 Billion

– 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

Taxable sales in the San Diego region were down nearly $2.3 billion in March, according to a San Diego Association of Governments report released Thursday.

The new SANDAG report, "COVID-19 Impact on the San Diego Regional Economy: Consumer Spending," estimates the region's taxable sales went from an average of $5.3 billion each month prior to March 15, down to nearly $3 billion in April. That represents a decrease of about 44% or roughly $2.3 billion.

"Our Chief Economist Ray Major and his team are working around the clock to support local elected officials and other decision-makers with relevant data and analysis to manage this pandemic," said SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata. "These reports have been essential tools to determine next steps in the region's economic road to recovery."

The report estimates the largest losses in taxable sales are to apparel stores, down 83%, and restaurants, down 67%.

Businesses that remained open and fared well during this time frame were food markets and big-box retail stores such as Costco, Target and Walmart. — City News Service

Pacific Surfliner Rail Service Partially Restored

6 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

Beginning Monday, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train service sidelined by the COVID-19 crisis will be partially restored to Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo, rail officials announced Thursday.

Next week's adjustments will be the first step to restoring full operation of the line, bringing back service along 100 miles of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo coastal rail corridor, known as LOSSAN.

A temporarily reduced Pacific Surfliner schedule went into effect March 23 in response to shelter-in-place orders implemented by local municipalities and the state due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some trains and bus connections have continued to operate as authorized essential services, providing options for those who must travel. Those connections have been especially important for the San Luis Obispo region, since a portion of its airline service has been suspended, according to the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency. — City News Service

Mayor Faulconer Announces Expansion Of Slow Streets Program

– 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday announced the expansion of the Slow Streets program.

The program closes streets to traffic to give residents space to walk, ride a bike while practicing social distancing. The program was tested in five neighborhoods, including North Park, Emerald Hills and Pacific Beach.

WATCH here:

The mayor said the program will be expanded to 100 additional blocks in the city. The locations of those blocks have not been announced.

"I've been working with City Councilmembers and community leaders to identify locations that will make a great Slow Streets, but also want to hear from you," he said.

Residents can voice their opinion by at sandiego.gov/slowstreets. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

County Beaches Will Reopen To Sunbathers In June

– 4:15 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

San Diego County's beaches can reopen Tuesday for passive uses like sitting in a beach chair and sunbathing, it was announced Thursday, continuing the county's gradual reopening even as public health officials reported 117 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths.

The newest data increases the county cumulative totals to 7,100 and 260 deaths. County health officials recorded 3,699 tests Thursday, raising the cumulative total number of tests to 147,286.

The five deceased ranged in age from 64 to 97 and all had underlying medical issues.

WATCH here:

The 117 tests Thursday comprise 3% of the total number of tests, and the 14-day rolling average testing positive is just 3.1%, giving officials like Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, a reason to believe the region's cases have "peaked."

As a result of numbers trending in the right direction, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors Greg Cox said Thursday the county would allow beaches across the county to open for passive recreation and would allow individual jurisdictions to decide if they wanted to open the beaches for those purposes as well.

A few restrictions remain, however, as the county still has a ban on team sports like football and volleyball. Additionally, beach parking lots and piers remain closed. The reopening of boardwalks is up to each coastal city, and as always, social distancing and facial coverings are the rules when near people who aren't a member of the household. — City News Service

CVS To Open Seven More Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Sites In San Diego County

– 10:52 a.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

CVS Health announced Thursday that it will open seven additional drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites across San Diego County tomorrow, as part of its goal to establish 1,000 testing locations across the country by the end of the month.

The new San Diego County sites are among 91 slated to open across California on Friday, with the ultimate goal of processing up to 1.5 million tests per month nationwide, subject to availability of supplies and lab capacity.

Patients will utilize self-swab tests in their car while monitored by pharmacy technicians, who will provide the test kit and instructions. Tests will be sent to an independent third-party lab, with results available in about three days, according to CVS Health.

Patients must register in advance at CVS.com beginning Friday to schedule an appointment.

A complete list of testing sites is available here. – City News Service

Mayor Faulconer Announces Initiative To Support Artists Struggling Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced on Wednesday the city of San Diego will distribute $1 million in funding for two new arts programs through the Commission for Arts and Culture. The programs will directly support artists in San Diego while also ensuring more public art is available for San Diegans to enjoy, and are part of the city’s $1.25 million plan for emergency arts funding relief.

"Our arts community has been hit particularly hard," Faulconer said.

The two initiatives, SD Practice and Park Social will focus on creating and sharing public art and providing financial opportunities for individual local artists.

WATCH here:

Jonathon Glus, the commission's executive director, described each of the new initiatives and the ways they can provide relief directly to artists.

Glus said that the SD Practice will add to the city's extensive civic art collection, which includes more than 800 works of art and began taking shape during the Works Progress Administration era during the Great Depression.

"SD Practice is going to allow us to build on that tradition," Glus said. — Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS arts editor

Legoland, SeaWorld Among Plan Reopening As COVID-19 Cases Rise To 6,983

– 3:45 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Representatives from SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, the U.S.S. Midway Museum and other large tourist attractions had a phone meeting with San Diego County officials Wednesday to seek permission to reopen by July 1, as the county reported 101 new COVID-19 cases and a half- dozen more deaths.

Wednesday's numbers raise the cumulative totals to 6,983 cases and 255 deaths.

The theme parks are taking steps to open for Stage 3 of Gov. Gavin Newsom's four-stage plan, and while the meeting with county officials was private, the parks announced they have moved onto an official reopening request with the state.

"LEGOLAND California Resort, The USS Midway Museum and SeaWorld San Diego reviewed its collective re-opening safety plan with county of San Diego officials today," a joint statement from the parks said. "While the attractions will all be ready to reopen on July 1 if authorized, the plan now moves on to state officials for additional review and guidance. As the San Diego attraction coalition, we were greatly appreciative to county staff for the opportunity to present our reopening plan to them today."

That plan calls for temperature and wellness checks for employees, masks for everyone entering the parks, reduced capacity inside the parks, plastic shields at food stations, a six-foot separation for entry and ride lines and regularly disinfecting common touchpoints.

The parks said Tuesday they would present county officials with these plans to reopen and ask for feedback.

David Koontz, spokesman for the Midway Museum, said the call "went very well," but did not offer any additional information.

CORRECTION: The previous version of this blog story incorrectly identified the San Diego Zoo as part of the group pushing to reopen.

– City News Service

County And Rady Children's Hospital Announce COVID-19 Testing Initiative

– 3:39 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Rady Children's Hospital and San Diego County announced a collaborative COVID-19 testing initiative Wednesday aimed at testing up to 2,000 children and their families per day.

The COVID Collaborative for Children will provide testing for Rady's young patients, as well as their parents and caregivers regardless of symptoms, county and Rady representatives said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

The testing is optional and will be provided during the patients' existing appointments, according to Rady COO Nicholas Holmes. Children who appear at Rady's urgent care or emergency care departments will also be offered the test regardless of their purpose for visiting. – City News Service

Mayor Faulconer, City Attorney Announce Use Of Transformed Motel To Help Homeless Families

– 6:29 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A recently renovated Super 8 motel in South San Diego will be available as temporary housing for homeless families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday.

While nearly 1,300 homeless individuals are being housed at the San Diego Convention Center, homeless families have been moved to motel rooms through the county's Regional Task Force on the Homeless, a city official said.

The motel on Palm Avenue in the Egger Highlands community was originally intended for the City Attorney's Office's San Diego Misdemeanants At Risk Track Program for repeat misdemeanor offenders with drug addiction.

Faulconer said plans to use the site for the SMART Program "are on hold for the moment because there's nothing that takes precedence right now more than our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

The motel is making available 42 units, shared kitchen and communal spaces, a fitness room, laundry facilities and more.— City News Service

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego Sees No New Deaths, 85 New Coronavirus Cases

–3:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 85 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, raising the county total to 6,882 cases. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 249 for the third day in a row.

The number of cumulative reported tests rose by 3,908 to more than 140,000. The 85 latest cases represent 2% of the total tests, dropping the county's rolling 14-day average to just around 3%.

WATCH here:

San Diego County's public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, said the data showed "it appears we may have peaked." She said the next 21 days would represent another litmus test for the county's handle on the illness, with reopenings Tuesday and Wednesday and a several week-long incubation period for the illness to follow.

Wooten urged residents to remain vigilant but said things were looking better and better for the region. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Gives Counties Authority To Reopen Barbershops, Hair Salons

– 1 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020

In an announcement that will delight shaggy-haired residents statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday cleared the way for barbershops and hair salons to open in counties that have been cleared to move deeper into California's reopening roadmap, including Orange County.

As of Tuesday, 47 of the state's 58 counties — including San Diego — have been granted those variances, which are based on criteria such as the rate coronavirus infections and deaths and availability of testing and contact-tracing.

WATCH here:

The variances allow counties to move deeper into Stage 2 of the state's reopening roadmap, most notably allowing the resumption of limited dine-in service at restaurants and in-person shopping at retail establishments.

"Along those lines, they (counties) will be able to add in barbershops and hair salons to those regional variations starting today," Newsom said, adding that the businesses will have to operate with substantial safety modifications. — City News Service

No Additional COVID-19 Deaths Reported on Memorial Day

- 5:18 p.m., Monday, May 25, 2020

The county released this update on Monday evening:

Of 3,700 tests reported to the County yesterday, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 3% were positive new cases.

The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests, shown in the first attached chart, is 3.2%, which meets one of the key metrics monitored by the County.

San Diego County resident total cases are now at 6,797, an increase from yesterday of 96.

1,244 or 18.3% of cases have required hospitalization.

370 or 5.4% of all cases and 29.7% of all hospitalizations had to be placed in intensive care.

No additional local deaths due to COVID-19 have been reported Monday. The countywide total remains at 249. — San Diego County

Shopping At Retail Stores May Resume Statewide

- 3:35 p.m., Monday, May 25, 2020

The California Department of Public Health on Monday announced the statewide reopening of in-store retail shopping, a major step in California's emergence from shutdown orders issued in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The retail guidance for in-person shopping that is already in place for certain counties, including San Diego, now applies statewide, officials said.

Retail does not include personal services such as hair salons, nail salons and barbershops.

Monday's announcement came as Gov. Gavin Newsom released guidelines for resuming in-person services at churches and other houses of worship. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Issues Guidelines For Church Reopenings

– 12:20 p.m., Monday, May 25, 2020

California says churches can resume in-person services but the congregations will be limited to less than 100 and worshippers should wear masks, avoid sharing prayer books and skip the collection plate.

The state Department of Public Health released a framework Monday for county health officials to permit houses of worship to reopen. Most have been limited to online and remote services since March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order took effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

With progress being made, Newsom has been relaxing those restrictions for restaurants, stores and other businesses.

Several thousand churches had vowed to defy Newsom’s order on May 31, which is Pentacost Sunday, a major holiday for many Christians. — Associated Press

Barona Casino To Begin Phased Re-Opening On Wednesday

– 11:50 a.m., Monday, May 25, 2020

Barona Resort and Casino announced their reopening plan today, which welcomes patrons back to the casino on Wednesday after a two-month closure due the coronavirus pandemic, casino officials said. Barona Resort and Casino is the eighth tribal casino to restart operation in San Diego County.

Barona's first phase of re-opening will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Table games will be limited to a maximum of three players per table and every other slot machine will be turned off to further encourage space between players.

Patrons and staff will be screened for high temperatures and symptoms of the novel coronavirus before entry, a casino report said. All will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing. – City News Service

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