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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Live Blog: Five San Diego Food Handlers Test Positive for COVID-19

The KPBS COVID-19 graphic is pictured in this undated image.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: The KPBS COVID-19 graphic is pictured in this undated image.

This is a breaking news blog for all of the latest updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Get our complete coronavirus coverage here →

COVID-19 by the Numbers

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

Newsom: ICU Hospitalizations up 105% Overnight, Looking to Silicon Valley For Help On Ventilators

– 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

Photo credit: 10News

The San Diego Police Department seal is seen on an officer's uniform in this undated photo.

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

Gov. Newsom, Mayor Garcetti Welcome Arrival Of USNS Mercy In Los Angeles

– 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

Photo by Andi Dukleth

A closed sign at the Currant American Brasserie in downtown San Diego on March 26, 2020. The cafe is one of many businesses that had to close down because of the COVD-19 pandemic.

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

San Diego-Area Reported Crime Dips Amid Coronavirus Crisis

– 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

Photo by Courtesy photo

Steve Padilla, Chula Vista City Councilman for District 3 is shown in this undated photo.

– 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

San Diego Imposes Moratorium On Evictions, Approves Relief Fund For Businesses

– 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

Newsom Announces Mortgage Relief For Californians Affected By COVID-19

– 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

San Diego County Jury Service Suspended Through May 22

– 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.

Supervisors OK Moratorium on Evictions For Residents, Small Businesses

– 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

UCSD Health Starts Antiviral Drug Trials For COVID-19

– 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.

Photo caption:

Photo by Bennett Lacy

The parking lot at La Jolla shores is closed following orders from the city of San Diego in order to prevent spread of COVID-19, March 22, 2020.

San Diego Mayor Faulconer Closes All City Beaches, Parks And Trails

– 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 23

Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered Monday the closure of all city-owned beaches, parks and trails, citing a lack of physical distance among city residents over the weekend.

"I have directed the City of SanDiego to move forward with closing all city-owned parks, beaches and trails. There were far too many ignoring physical distancing rules this weekend. The actions of a few can cost the lives of many. Please stay at home, San Diego," he wrote in a Twitter posting.

The announcement came not long after San Diego County health officials said that if cities cannot maintain safe social distancing procedures at their parks and beaches, the county will close them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The city of Carlsbad also closed its beaches Monday. — Chris Underwood, web producer

Gov. Newsom Closes State Parks, And Beaches

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, March 23

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he would close parking lots at dozens of beaches and state parks to prevent the spread of coronavirus after large groups flocked to the coast and mountains to get outdoors on the first weekend since the state's stay-at-home order took effect.

Newsom reaffirmed he would like to use social pressure to get people to maintain a buffer around each other and is not inclined to have his stay-at-home rule enforced by police. But he said cutting off access to places where people congregated under sunny skies was intended to “help you help yourself.”

“Normally that would light up my heart to see tens of thousands of people congregating down in Malibu and other parts of our beautiful state,” he said. “One cannot condemn that, but one can criticize it. We need to practice common sense and socially distance.” — Associated Press

San Diego County Will Close Beaches If Social Distancing Isn't Being Practiced

– 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 23

Watch the news conference live here:

San Diego County health officials announced Monday that if cities cannot maintain safe social distancing procedures at their parks and beaches, the county will close them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"We encourage outdoor exercise as long as people maintain 6 feet of social distancing," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "It looks like people are not able to do that."

The county is amending its previous public health order to include the authority to close beaches and parks if municipalities are unable or unwilling to enforce the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

The county's step follows a city ordinance that all public parking lots at parks and beaches in the city of San Diego will remain closed to discourage gatherings and encourage social distancing amid the pandemic. — City News Service

City Turning Golden Hall Into Homeless Shelter During COVID-19 Outbreak

– 11:30 a.m., Monday, March 23

Watch the news conference live here:

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Monday a two-step plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the city's more than 5,000 homeless population.

Acknowledging the challenge of social distancing for the homeless, Faulconer announced that Golden Hall will be turned into a shelter for homeless individuals.

It's the first step and will shelter more than 200 people while providing sufficient space to limit the spread of the virus. The second step is to use portions of the San Diego Convention Center for additional housing and services. The aim of the strategy is to spread out an increased supply of shelter beds, Faulconer said.

With Golden Hall and the Convention Center being used as larger shelters, current homeless shelters will be re-purposed to operate as triage centers, he said.

The city also launched a new "emergency homeless command" which will coordinate with regional partners, including the county of San Diego, Regional Task Force on the Homeless, and the Housing Commission, to combat the spread of COVID-19 among the region's homeless population.

San Diego County has acquired about 1,900 hotel rooms across the county to be used to isolate homeless individuals and other residents who show symptoms of the virus. — Chris Underwood, web producer

San Diego County Announces First Corona-Related Death

4:45 p.m., Sunday, March 22

County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten announced Sunday afternoon the first death of a San Diego County resident due to COVID-19.

Wooten’s comments came during an afternoon press conference by local officials, where it was also announced the number of positive cases in San Diego County had risen to 159.

The San Diego resident who died was identified as a male in his early 70s, and had been treated in Santa Clara County after returning from travel to Hawaii. The county had no further information about the death at this time.

As of Saturday night, there were no deaths due to COVID-19 reported in the county.

Dr. Wooten emphasized that the county’s response to the pandemic is just at its beginning, and while some San Diego residents had been following “social distancing” guidelines, others had been congregating in large groups at parks and beaches.

Staying inside or isolated from others “is for everyone’s health and safety,” Dr. Wooten said. She also told anyone who saw large groups of non-family members in public to call local law enforcement.

Under the Governor’s state-wide “stay-at-home” order, violations of the order are a misdemeanor offense and subject to a $100 fine.

Officials also reiterated that tests for COVID-19 would continue to be prioritized for healthcare professionals, people already hospitalized, and those in nursing homes, and that widespread testing would not be available for those with mild symptoms. Instead, the officials said that people should stay home and self-isolate.

“We are still in the eye of the storm and we’re not asking you to board up your windows but to board up yourselves at home, please,” said Dr. Nick Yphantides, San Diego County's chief medical officer. - Max Rivlin-Nadler, Immigration reporter

Trump Makes ‘Major Disaster Declaration’ For California

3:22 p.m. Sunday, March 22

Updated: 6:00 p.m. Sunday, March 22

President Donald Trump Sunday evening issued a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for California, which made billions in federal funds available to the state.

The declaration, requested by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier in the day, was the third made by Trump in recent days. He approved declarations for New York state on Friday and Washington state on Sunday.

The declaration will provide “mass care and emergency assistance, crisis counseling, disaster case management, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal services and disaster supplemental nutrition assistance,” according to a news release from Newsom’s office. -- David Washburn, News and Investigations Editor

City Of San Diego Closing Park And Beach Parking Lots

3:15 p.m. Sunday, March 22, 2020

The city of San Diego on Sunday closed all parking lots for beaches and parks as part of its effort to discourage gatherings of any size during the pandemic.

City officials took this extraordinary step after many reports of people gathering at beaches and parks despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order last week for all Californians to “shelter in place” and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s order limiting gatherings in the city.

“Public health officials are clear that gatherings of any size can lead to the spread of COVID-19, which is why they continue to be prohibited everywhere, including at beaches and parks,” said Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell in a statement released Sunday. “Local and state rules limiting groups have been in effect for days, so this should not be a surprise to anyone.”

Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland followed Stowell’s statement with a reminder that “people can still go outside for a walk or bike ride, but they should do it while following physical distancing rules.”

“The Stay At Home order makes clear that this is not a time for parties, it’s a time to protect the public health,” Gartland said. -- David Washburn, News and Investigations Editor

WATCH: San Diego County To Give Updates On Coronavirus Pandemic

2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 22, 2020

San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said during Sunday's briefing San Diego's first death will be reported Sunday.

Watch Live:

Coronado Naval Base Sailor Tests Positive For COVID-19

1:10 p.m. Sunday, March 22, 2020

A sailor from Naval Base Coronado is the latest member of the local military community to test positive for COVID-19 as San Diego County's confirmed cases spiked from 131 to 159 this weekend, county health officials and the Navy said.

The sailor reported symptoms of COVID-19 to his supervisor on March 17, according to officials from the base. He tested positive on Friday and is now restricted to his residence, receiving medical care.

"Personnel that the individual immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-quarantine at their residences," the base's public affairs office said. "Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been in close contact and possibly exposed." -City News Service

Ramada Hotel In Kearny Mesa To Be Used As COVID-19 Quarantine Site

10:40 a.m. Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Ramada hotel in Kearny Mesa announced it will be used as a quarantine site for people potentially exposed to coronavirus.

The Ramada by Wyndham San Diego North Hotel & Conference Center located near Kearny Mesa Road, north of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard near state Route 163, will be used by the federal government to house patients under quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The hotel has 151 rooms and will be closed to the public.

The patients being transferred from the base to the hotel are experiencing mild or no symptoms, federal authorities said. -City News Service

San Diego County Democratic Party Chair In Intensive Care For COVD-19

9:45 a.m. Sunday, March 22, 2020

San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy said late Saturday he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was in intensive care at the local VA Medical Center.

Rodriguez-Kennedy announced Friday night on Facebook that he had been hospitalized after experiencing fever, cough, nausea and muscle soreness. An update on Saturday said his test for COVID-19 had come back positive and that he was in the ICU "receiving the best care."

Rodriguez-Kennedy, 32, was elected chair of the county Democratic party last year — the youngest person to ever win that position. He is a Marine Corps veteran who was discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that banned openly gay people from serving in the military. He said on Facebook he was uninsured, but that a local Democratic party activist had connected him with a VA specialist who got him enrolled and admitted to the hospital.

Other local political figures who have tested positive for the coronavirus include Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Padilla, who was admitted to intensive care and placed on a ventilator last Thursday, and Kelvin Barrios, a candidate for San Diego City Council District 9.

Barrios was initially hospitalized but is now in self-isolation at home, according to an email from the local LGBT Democratic club, Democrats for Equality. -Andrew Bowen, Metro Reporter

San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Rise to 159

8:38 a.m. Sunday, March 22, 2020

San Diego County's confirmed coronavirus cases spiked from 131 to 159 between Friday and Saturday, county health officials said.

Of the 159 people in the county with positive diagnoses, health officials said 135 are county residents, 11 are in federal quarantine and 13 are not county residents.

Of the 34 patients who have been hospitalized, 25 are county residents. Twelve of those hospitalized were in intensive care, as was one non-county resident.

The vast majority of San Diego County's cases — nearly 100 of those who have tested positive — have been under the age of 60. One individual's age is unknown.

Confirmed Cases by City of Residence Report (updated weekly)

The health department will hold another coronavirus briefing Sunday afternoon, which will include San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. You can watch the briefing here on this blog at 2:30 p.m. -City News Service/KPBS

Some San Diego Jail Inmates May Be Released Early

6:34 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

Some low-level, non-violent inmates facing trials and being held in San Diego County jails are being considered for release in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the county's district attorney and sheriff announced Saturday.

"In the wake of an unprecedented Superior Court closure, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office and San Diego County Sheriff's Department took several proactive steps this week to address the threat of the coronavirus to individuals arrested for low-level, non-violent crimes who normally would have been released if the court was open or can't afford to post jail," the DA and sheriff said in a joint statement.

The DA's office did not say how many inmates have already been released under the new policies nor how many are expected to be released.

Other actions the district attorney said are being taken include:

— identifying those in jail who are awaiting trial or sentencing and may be eligible for release;

— prioritizing the release of vulnerable inmates who are "medically fragile" to determine if it is appropriate to ask the court to re-sentence them;

— allowing some people nearing the end of their sentence to be released early.

-City News Service

Rancho Santa Fe Resort To Close For A Month

6:28 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

One of San Diego's top resorts, the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, said Saturday it will close starting Sunday through April 22 as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at the facility, located at 5921 Valencia Circle, said they are announcing the closure "with a heavy heart but great hopefulness."

"We will continually re-evaluate our next course of action and aim to communicate future plans as we know more during this incredible unprecedented time," a resort statement said. "This decision did not come lightly. But in solidarity with the directives of the state of California, we feel that this is the only responsible course of action at this time."

Other well-known San Diego resorts said they have not decided to shut down, but are taking it day-by-day.

For example, Loews Coronado Bay Resort guests were arriving Saturday and the hotel is open, but the restaurant and spa are closed, a spokeswoman said. -City News Service

City Council Candidate Tests Positive For Coronavirus

5:57 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

Kelvin Barrios, a candidate for the San Diego City Council's 9th District, tested positive today for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, his campaign spokeswoman said.

Barrios, who came in first in the March primary to replace Georgette Gomez on the council and will be in a November runoff against Sean Elo, announced the positive test on his Facebook page.

His spokeswoman, Dee Rivera, said he was hospitalized on Friday after feeling ill.

"Having ups and downs, with fever, headache and shortness of breath," Barrios said in the post. "But still doing OK."

Barrios, a City Heights resident, launched his campaign in September 2019 for the 9th council district, representing the communities of Alvarado Estates, City Heights, College Area, College View Estates, El Cerrito, Kensington, Mountain View, Mt. Hope, Rolando, Southcrest and Talmadge. -City News Service

WATCH: Governor Newsom Gives Update on California’s COVID-19 Response

4:57 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

WATCH: San Diego County Officials Give Update On COVID-19

3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten opened up the conversation. She said in San Diego there are 131 positive cases and zero deaths.

Wooten emphasized that "90% of people do not need to be tested," and that residents with mild symptoms can self-isolate at home. Though, she said anyone needing a respirator should get in touch with medical professionals.

The County's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nicholas Yphantides, said the healthcare system could become overwhelmed, but he urged residents to seek out professional medical help if they need to.

"[There’s this] duality between 'this is overhyped' or 'we’re not doing enough,” Yphantides said. “The analogy that I use with my healthcare colleagues is 'folks, we are really in the eye of the storm right now.”

He hopes that with social distancing the "category 5 storm" will be “lessened and become more manageable. But we believe very strongly that it’s coming and the healthcare systems are activated. And even though the this data I referred to today shows lots of capacity, that could change," he said.

County supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that as more testing happens, the county expects the number of positive cases to rise. And, he said the demand for hospital rooms will grow exponentially.

In the meantime, he urged residents to try to avoid misinformation on the coronavirus and practice proper social distancing to slow down the spread of the virus. - Max Rivlin Nadler, Immigration Reporter and Shalina Chatlani, Science and Technology Reporter

California To Receive $42M In Emergency Funds For Healthcare Infrastructure

1:41 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

In a press release Saturday, the state announced Governor Gavin Newsom directed more than $42 million in emergency funding to California’s healthcare infrastructure. The money aims to strengthen the state’s response to COVID-19.

“California is mobilizing every part of government to support our health care delivery system, its workers, and those among us who are most vulnerable to COVID-19,” said Governor Newsom.

The state will use three-fourths of the funds to expand healthcare capacity by leasing and operating two medical facilities — Seton Medical Center in Daly City and St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles. The rest of the money will be directed toward the state public health lab, purchasing new medical equipment such as ventilators and IV fusion pumps, and patient transportation services.

According to the Governor’s office, this past week California began receiving shipments from a prior request from the Strategic National Stockpile. The request included items like:

Over 1.2 million N95 and surgical masks

Over 130,000 surgical gowns

Over 470,000 gloves

This week the state also requested additional supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, including:

30 million N95 and surgical masks

10,000 ventilators

2 million swabs

200,000 RNA extraction kits

The emergency funds and supply requests come just days after Governor Gavin Newsom ordered California residents to shelter in place. - Shalina Chatlani, Science and Technology Reporter.

UC San Diego, Manufacturers Increase COVID-19 Testing Capacity

1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21,2020

UC San Diego Health and UCSD School of Medicine announced Friday that the university's Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine is significantly ramping up testing for COVID-19, projecting a capacity to complete 1,000 to 1,500 tests per day within two to three weeks.

UCSD Health has been conducting in-house COVID-19 testing since March 10. The in-house testing was among the first such efforts in the nation, hospital officials said, producing results in hours, rather than days or weeks.

But emerging and widespread challenges across health systems and the nation involving shortages of required chemicals and materials has limited testing to only persons meeting strict diagnostic criteria, such as clear symptoms of disease or known exposure to the virus.

Dr. Ronald McLawhon, director of the center and UCSD's clinical laboratories, said the facility has been revamped to redirect additional personnel and resources to COVID-19 testing.

"Our entire clinical team understands the importance of this effort in fighting a global pandemic," McLawhon said. "Many of our most skilled laboratory, technical and management staff have been working around-the- clock." -City News Service

Coronavirus National Roundup

12 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

In the U.S., at least 13 states have postponed voting and more delays are possible as health officials warn that social distancing and other measures to contain the virus might be in place for weeks, if not months. Primaries scheduled for Georgia, Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, Louisiana, Connecticut and Kentucky have all been postponed to May or June.

Outbreaks of the new coronavirus at nursing homes in Washington, Illinois, New Jersey and elsewhere in the U.S. are laying bare the industry’s long-running problems. The deadliest single spot in the outbreak so far is at the Life Care Center in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Federal investigators believe working conditions - including understaffing and low pay - have been a contributing factor in the 35 deaths to date. – Associated Press

Coronavirus International Roundup

12 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Tokyo Olympics have reached a critical phase. Japanese organizers and IOC President Thomas Bach say the games will open July 24 at the $1.4 billion national stadium in Tokyo. But athletes are complaining: They can’t train; qualifying events have been canceled; the chaos is sure to favor some over others. Giant questions remain about bringing 11,000 athletes from 200 countries together in four months. Bach has said repeatedly it’s too early to announce a final decision.

Africa’s cases of the coronavirus rose above 1,000 on Saturday. Angola announced its first cases, meaning at least 40 of Africa’s 54 countries are now affected. Congo reported its first death; Burkina Faso reported two new ones — that country now has the most virus deaths of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. The West African nation also has one of the highest caseloads on the continent with 64. Somalia said it’s lifting its ban on international flights for two days so stranded citizens can come home. Angola closed its air, land and sea borders this week. Botswana has suspended international travel by all government employees.

In London, tourist sites were eerily empty a day after the government ordered the closure of all bars, restaurants, movie theaters and other places where people congregate. Pigeons outnumbered people in the usually bustling Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square. There were long lines outside some supermarkets. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is meeting with supermarket executives over the weekend about how to keep the shelves filled. – Associated Press

SDSU Postpones Graduations, Planning Virtual Ceremonies

11 a.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

San Diego State University announced Friday that the coronavirus outbreak has forced it to postpone commencement ceremonies for spring and summer graduates to December.

The current plan is for the university to hold a “virtual celebration” on May 16 and then hold in-person ceremonies December 17-20. In a statement, SDSU President Adela de la Torre said it’s important that the in-person ceremonies not be canceled altogether.

“This will help ensure the authenticity of the experience for our graduating students,” the statement said. “Our students are so deserving of this moment, and we want to be there with them in person.”

The statement went on to say the postponement will not have an impact on the timing of degree completion for students scheduled to graduate in May or August. Those who complete all degree requirements will receive diplomas in the mail between six and eight weeks after the semester ends, the statement said. – David Washburn, Investigative Editor

Coronavirus Cases In San Diego Rise To 131

6 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in San Diego County has increased to 131, up 26 cases from Thursday.

That is the highest day-over-day increase in cases yet.

Of those cases, 27 have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths from coronavirus in San Diego County.

San Diego county epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said the number is likely higher than what’s been reported.

“What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg and at a minimum, the number of actual cases that are probably in the community is probably 10 times what we're seeing in terms of what we're reporting," he said.

As of Friday, the county said more than 1,000 people in the county have been tested, splitting between county lab, private labs and hospitals.

Grocery Workers Union Secures $2/hr Raise At Albertsons, Vons

5:30 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020

Workers at Albertsons and Vons won a $2 per hour raise during the coronavirus pandemic, union officials announced Friday.

Many grocery stores have been overwhelmed with customers seeking food, cleaning supplies and other necessities as Californians adapt to a new statewide stay-at-home order intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. With the surge in customers, employees working to restock shelves and check out customers are facing a higher risk of exposure to the virus.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union had been pressing Albertsons, the parent company of Vons, for a raise and additional protection for employees. UFCW said in a Facebook post that the company would also begin installing plexiglass shields at check-out stands to protect cashiers.

UFCW Local 135, which represents Albertsons and Vons employees in San Diego and Imperial Counties, praised the move in a press release.

"We have been asking the major retailers, who are doubling and tripling their profits right now, to recognize that our members need increased pay, increased safety measures and more flexible schedules during these unprecedented times," said Vons employee Tamara Long. "We are pleased they are listening to us and recognize the important role we play during this situation.” – Andrew Bowen, Metro Reporter

City Leaders Urge San Diegans To Continue Staying At Home, Per State Order

4:30 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020

San Diego city leaders urged locals Friday to heed Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 outbreak while acknowledging that residents have been observing directives from city and county leaders to self-isolate this past week to keep from overburdening hospitals and emergency services.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the city has seen "unprecedented cooperation" from residents to various orders to stay at home and practice social distancing.

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell echoed those sentiments, saying that so far, residents have heeded calls to stay inside, which they said helps first responders and keeps them safe from potential exposure to COVID-19.

Nisleit said the police department has seen an 11% decrease in calls for service this past week, a sign that San Diegans were complying with local orders regarding COVID-19.

Faulconer asked residents to stay the course following the governor's executive order Thursday.

Coronavirus In ‘Every Municipality” In The County: Wooten

4:15 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020

The coronavirus is in “every municipality in the county,” San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten announced Friday.

Wooten was answering a reporter’s question at the daily county coronavirus briefing about whether the county will break down the number of positive cases by neighborhoods.

There are 105 cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Friday afternoon and the youngest patient is 19 years old. But Wooten said the county won’t break the numbers down by neighborhoods for privacy reasons, but also because the “virus is throughout the county.”

However, the county did release the breakdown by city:

Photo credit: County of San Diego

A chart showing the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Diego broken down by municipalities, March 19, 2020.

The best way to protect yourself is through tried-and-true methods, such as washing your hands, adhere to the order to shelter in place and only go out if it’s necessary, she said.

"The message is very clear, all Californians are being asked to stay at home if you do not need to go out for essential reasons," Wooten said.

County epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald acknowledged there is a shortage of testing kits in the region and people are getting anxious about COVID-19. For some, he said, the only way to allay that anxiety is to get tested but there are not enough tests for everyone.

“Testing is limited so we need to conserve those tests for those who need it,” he said. He added that testing does not change the treatment procedure, which is self-quarantine. Eighty percent of those with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms and can stay home unless symptoms worsen, Wooten said.

The bottom line for San Diegans, everyone at the briefing said, is to stay home and not go out unless necessary.

“We need to prevent the preventable so that we can be prepared to deal with the inevitable,” county chief medical officer Dr. Nick Yphantides said. “We are still very concerned about the capacity of the health care system.”

However, Wooten said, you can still go for a walk around the neighborhood, go on hikes and keep active outdoors as long as you adhere to the social distancing principal and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.

6th San Diego Based Sailor Tests Positive For Coronavirus

12:04 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020

The Navy announced Friday that a sixth sailor has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The sailor tested positive Wednesday, but the Navy waited to make the announcement. The sailor, who is assigned to Commander, Naval Air Forces, is isolated at home in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The Navy has notified people who had close contact with the sailor and placed them in a restricted status at their residences and are currently being monitored, officials said.

Military health officials are conducting an investigation to determine whether anyone else may have been exposed.

US And Mexico To Curb Border Travel To Control Coronavirus

9 a.m., March 20, 2020

Mexico and the U.S. have announced plans to sharply limit travel over their busy shared border as they try to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump and Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard say their governments agreed to prohibit recreational and tourist travel. It's similar to the restrictions put in place earlier this week along the U.S. and Canadian border. There would be no ban on people traveling for work or other essential activities and there would be no halt to commercial traffic. The restrictions take effect at midnight Friday.

Chula Vista Councilman In Hospital After Coronavirus Symptoms Worsen

6:18 a.m., March 20, 2020

Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla was admitted to UCSD Thornton Hospital ICU Thursday, according to a statement released by Padilla's daughter, Ashleigh Padilla.

"He is receiving additional treatment, including a respirator to aid with difficulty breathing associated with COVID-19," she shared in the statement. “I know his amazing doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to send him home healthy when this is all over."

Photo by Courtesy photo

Steve Padilla, Chula Vista City Councilman for District 3 is shown in this undated photo.

My father asked me to pass on a message: Everyone needs to take COVID-19 seriously. Please follow the advice of our public health professionals to reduce spread of the virus and take precautions to keep your families and our community safe.”

Father Joe’s Homeless Client Tests Negative For COVID-19; Shelters Accepting New People

8 p.m., March 19, 2020

A person removed from the shelter run by Father Joe’s Village has tested negative for COVID-19, the nonprofit reported Thursday afternoon.

The person was the first to be placed in isolation in one of the motel rooms the county acquired to temporarily house people awaiting test results.Others who may have come in contact with the person were placed in quarantine. With the negative test results, the quarantine and isolation have been lifted, according to a news release from Father Joe’s.

The San Diego Housing Commission has lifted the temporary suspension on Father Joe’s that kept the shelter from taking in new homeless people for two nights this week. A spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office said shelters run by Veterans Village of San Diego and PATH, as well as an Alpha Project shelter at 17th Street and Imperial Avenue, have begun accepting new people. All of the shelters that suspended new intakes receive funding from the city of San Diego.

Two others that fall into that category are still not accepting people, said Ashley Bailey with the Mayor’s Office. She said that “our teams are working on solutions” to that. — Cody Delany, inewsource

Governor Gavin Newsom Issues Statewide 'Stay-In' Order

6:30 p.m., March 19, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued a statewide "stay at home" order effective at midnight.

The order mirrors the order from several counties in northern California.

The order does not mean that people cannot go out for groceries or other essentials. Restaurants may still offer take-out or deliveries.

"We want to bend the curve," Newsom said, referring to the projection that as much as 50% of the state could be infected with COVID-19. He said he wants to bend that projection downward, and that was the reason for the order.

Newsom also waived state codes to allow local municipalities to act on moratoriums on evictions, both residential and commercial, as the municipalities see fit.

San Diego City Council has already called for a moratorium on evictions.

Newsom also said he reserves the right to announce more drastic measures he sees fit to stem the spread of the virus.

Mayor Asks San Diegans To Lend Helping Hand During Pandemic

4:30 p.m., March 19, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday was asking San Diegans to lend a helping hand during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are united in this together," he said.

In San Diego, the pandemic has caused 285 blood drives to close, translating to 10,000 fewer donations, according to the San Diego Red Cross.

The Red Cross said residents can safely donate blood as the agency has implemented several safety procedures, such as increasing the distance between donation cots.

Sean Mahoney, CEO of the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties, said the shortage because of the pandemic is "unprecedented."

The San Diego Foodbank is experiencing a different kind of shortage — volunteers. Many of its volunteers have canceled their shift because of the pandemic.

While both the county and city are advising people to stay home when they can, San Diego Food Bank president James Floros said the agency needs help distributing food to those who need it.

All 200 distribution locations are open during the pandemic, he said.

Coronavirus 'Community Response Fund' Raises $4 Million In 3 Days

– 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

San Diego philanthropists have raised $4 million this week to help workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic access food, pay rent and utilities and cover lost wages.

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund was announced Monday, with a $1 million donation from SDG&E and a $300,000 donation from The San Diego Foundation, which has since donated an additional $950,000.

"You can clearly see the community is coming together to help one another by the simple fact this fund added $4 million dollars in the first 72 hours after its launch,” County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said in a press release. “The generosity of San Diegans will jumpstart our community’s recovery from this virus."

With much of the local economy at a standstill and the normally busy convention season all but decimated, thousands of hotel workers, bar and restaurant servers, artists and others are facing layoffs or reduced hours.

The San Diego Foundation also announced Thursday it had made its first grant from the fund: $250,000 to United Way of San Diego County, which will provide rent, mortgage and utility payments to low-income households impacted by the disease.

United Way said it would make payments directly to landlords, mortgage lenders, SDG&E and other utilities, not to applicants. Those interested in applying for the funds can do so through the nonprofit's website.

Individuals interested in donating to the fund can also do so online.

North County Transit District Reduces Service Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

– 3:37 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

The North County Transit District announced Thursday that it would be reducing services due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement, the agency said that they are "experiencing significant declines in ridership and has determined that temporary service reductions will be implemented for COASTER commuter trains."

The following reductions will be in effect starting Monday, March 23:

Weekend COASTER Service:

All weekend COASTER service will be suspended. Service will not run between Oceanside and Santa Fe Depot on Saturdays or Sundays beginning on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

Weekday COASTER Service:

Beginning on Monday, March 23, 2020, the temporary schedule for weekday (Monday-Friday) service will only include the “active” trains below. “Suspended” trains will not operate.

NCTD says the reductions will be in place until further notice.

Dr. Wilma Wooten: 'No Shortage' Of N95 Masks ... Right Now

– 3:30 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten on Thursday said while there are some supplies shortages, there are no shortages of N95 masks for health care workers.

There were reports that some hospitals are experiencing shortages of supplies, but Wooten said "100%" there were NO supply issues with the N95 masks, which are designed to fit snuggly and filter airborne particles.

There are some shortages of gloves, gowns and goggles. When pressed on when those supplies may run out, she said she does not have numbers but "they are low."

The number of cases in San Diego remains at 80 Thursday afternoon, but those numbers will change by the end of the day as the county updates its numbers.

The number of cases, while still low, shows a jump of 20 from the previous day. Dr. Eric McDonald said the jump is not reflective of how the virus is spreading.

He said it may be the way commercial labs are reporting the results. It could take four to five days to get results from some labs.

What's important is that people stay home when they are sick, he said.

"Staying home when you're sick is critical," he said.

Also, on Thursday, the county closed its 13 Family Resource Centers for in-person service. Services are still available online and over the phone at (888) 724-7240.

Some San Diego Shelters Again Open To New Homeless People

– 12 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

As of Thursday morning, the homeless shelter run by Veterans Village of San Diego and Alpha Project’s shelter at 17th Street and Imperial Avenue have begun accepting new people, Ashley Bailey, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office, said.

After closing new intakes at seven city-funded homeless shelters Tuesday, the San Diego Housing Commission has reviewed most shelters for spacing requirements and is beginning to let them reopen, Bailey said. The shelters are required to have their beds three to six feet apart, in an effort to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading among the city’s homeless population, she said.

Shelters run by Father Joe’s Villages and PATH are expected to begin taking new people by this afternoon, Bailey said. It’s not yet known if all of the city-funded shelters will be open Thursday to new people.

Bob McElroy, Alpha Project CEO, said two trailers ‒ about 10 feet by 20 feet ‒ were parked late Wednesday on site at the nonprofit’s 17th Street shelter and at its Newton Avenue shelter. They will be used to quarantine people showing flu-like symptoms before receiving services, he said Thursday.

Local Leaders Urge Immigrants To Access Public Health Resources Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

– 11:30 a.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

Local elected officials on Thursday encouraged immigrants to access government health care and other community resources as COVID-19 continues to spread in San Diego.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher reiterated anyone who needs to get medical help should go get it, including getting tested for COVD-19 if they need it. Immigrants, regardless of legal status, will not be asked for documents, he said.

State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said immigrants and refugees should not be afraid to access government resources because of the Trump administration's “public charge” rule, which is a White House policy that bars citizenship to immigrants and refugees who take advantage of public assistance programs.

San Diego County Closes Libraries, Cancels Curb Side Pickup

– 11:12 a.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

San Diego County will no longer be offering curbside pickup services at the county's 33 library branches. All libraries and the county's mobile bookmobiles have been closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, the county says that people can still access the library's e-books and magazines online. They can be accessed either by using the Libby or Flipster.

County residents who do not have a library card can sign up for an Instant Digital Card and use their mobile phone number as their personal library card.

COVID-19 Prompts Closure Of Fashion Valley, Premium Outlets

– 8:47 a.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Fashion Valley shopping mall, Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Las Americas Premium Outlets will be closed through March 29 as part of a nationwide closure of all Simon-owned properties in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The closures came after what Simon described as "extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials."

"The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," David Simon, Simon's chairman, CEO and president, said in announcing the temporary closures.

Fitness Centers Close, Childcare Restrictions Take Effect

– 6:13 a.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

New public health orders took effect Thursday in response to the increasing number of coronavirus cases, including the closure of all gyms and fitness centers, a ban on gatherings of 10 or more and restriction of childcare to "stable" groups of 10 children with one childcare provider.

Health officials said "stable" refers to the same group of 10 children each day and the same provider each day. The number of coronavirus cases in San Diego County rose to 80 Wednesday with 11 hospitalizations and no deaths.

San Diego Based Hospital Ship To Respond To Coronavirus Pandemic

– 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The San Diego-based hospital ship USNS Mercy is preparing to respond to the coronavirus threat.

President Trump made the announcement Wednesday afternoon that the Navy’s two hospital ships, Mercy and USNS Comfort will deploy somewhere to help with the response to the virus.

The Comfort is actually undergoing maintenance in Norfolk, Virginia. The San Diego-based Mercy can be ready within a few days, according to the Navy.

The president did not announce a specific mission but the ship could be headed anywhere along the west coast, including Seattle, which has seen a number of cases, or it could stay in southern California to back up the civilian medical system.

“Comfort and Mercy will not deploy to treat COVID patients, but will be made available to assist with treatment of other patients in coastal locations where local health professionals are necessarily focused on a large number of COVID cases," Lt. Rochelle Rieger, spokesperson for the Navy’s Third Fleet, said in a statement.

The Mercy carries 1,000 hospital beds, including 80 intensive care beds and multiple surgical suites. At the moment, Mercy is set up to leave on five days' notice, as soon as it receives supplies and medical staff. If pressed, it could leave sooner.

In 2013, the ship was deployed in 3 days to respond to a typhoon in the Philippines.

Photo caption:

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulcon (center) announcing a relief fund at City Hall in downtown San Diego for small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis, March 18, 2020.

San Diego Mayor Announces $4 Million Relief Fund For Small Businesses

– 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday announced a $4 million relief fund for small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Small businesses may apply for zero-interest microloans to help them weather the crisis, he said.

The details of how businesses can access the funds and how much are forthcoming, Faulconer said.

The mayor also said the $4 million is the seed money and he expects it to grow as banks and community partners work with the city to provide relief for local businesses.

According to the city, 98% of San Diego businesses have fewer than 100 employees.

Read more here

Photo caption:

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wootten gives an update on coronavirus, March 18, 2020.

County Orders Gyms, Fitness Centers To Close; No Medical Supplies Shortages In County

– 2:37 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The county of San Diego on Wednesday updated its orders to include the closures of all gyms and fitness centers starting at midnight.

The county also clarified that its order barring gatherings of 50 or people does not affect airports, public transportation or other essential businesses — such as grocery stores — where people can practice social distancing.

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said she is not recommending shelter in place at this time.

"We are recommending people not gather in groups of 10 or more," she said.

At this time, daycare and child care centers can still remain open, provided that the children they care for are in stable groups of 10 or fewer.

"Stable means that they are the same 10 children," Wooten said. She said there can't be any mixing of children and for centers that care for multiple groups of children, the groups must be in separate rooms.

As far as the homeless population goes, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said there are public health nurses that are embedded within some homeless outreach teams and the county is working to expand that to a total of 16 teams.

The county has also secured more motel rooms for individuals who tested positive, under investigation or have symptoms but do not have ability to self-isolate at home, Fletcher said.

The rooms are not just for homeless individuals, he said, but for those who are in need of isolation.

County chief medical officer Dr. Nick Yphantides said health care workers have all the supplies they need right now to care for patients.

“Right now to answer your question matter of factly, there are no shortages,” he said.

The shortages are a national issue that is being addressed by release of stockpiles.

The county also gave an update on the breakdown of cases by age groups:

0-17: 0 cases

18-64: 47 cases

65+:13 cases

Read more here

Photo caption:

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Migrants from Central America use the Tijuana sign in Plays de Tijuana to dry their clothes, Nov. 15, 2018.

Trump Administration Prepares To Close Border To Asylum-Seekers

– 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it was planning to close the southwestern border to asylum-seekers, and instead return them to Mexico, even if that’s not their country of origin.

Asked if he was prepared to close the border based on a possible threat to public health during a press conference this morning, President Trump replied, “the answer is yes.” He added that it would be happening “very soon.”

The administration said it was allowed to do so under a federal law that says the Surgeon General can prohibit people from entering the country if there is “any communicable disease in a foreign country” that they are entering from. The Trump administration attempted to install a similar rule in 2018 under a different statute, but that was blocked by the Supreme Court.

Under the new rule, set to be published in the next 48 hours, anyone caught entering outside of a port-of-entry would be immediately driven to the nearest border crossing and returned to Mexico. The U.S. says it’s doing so because it “was critical to avert an outbreak of the coronavirus inside detention facilities along the border,” according to the New York Times.

The Mexican government has said that it’s not aware of this plan by the Trump administration, but that they are in contact with the U.S. Secretary of State about the pandemic.

On Wednesday, President Trump announced that the U.S.-Canada border would be closed to all “non-essential” traffic. The U.S.-Mexico border remains open to all civilian traffic at this time.

At this time, Mexico has far fewer individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. As KPBS reported on Monday, public health officials are worried that the U.S. might be helping the spread of coronavirus to migrant shelters in Tijuana, through the continuation of the “Remain-in-Mexico” program, despite the ongoing pandemic.

Photo caption:

Photo by Zoë Meyers / inewsource

A person sleeps on an empty sidewalk in downtown San Diego, March 18, 2020.

Father Joe’s Stops Taking In People At Shelters; One Resident Tested For COVID-19

– 11:15 a.m. Wednesday , March 18, 2020:

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Father Joe’s Villages has been ordered to stop allowing new intakes at its interim and bridge shelters, Deacon Jim Vargas, president of the nonprofit, said at an 8 a.m. news conference Tuesday. Vargas said that could change in the days ahead.

Father Joe’s removed a person from a homeless shelter late Monday and tested them for COVID-19 after they reported flu-like symptoms, Dr. Jeffrey Norris, medical director at the Village Health Center, said at the news conference, which was held online.

Norris said that person also became the first to move into one of the 237 motel rooms the county acquired to temporarily house people awaiting test results or who may be directed to quarantine. There haven't been any presumptive positive tests for COVID-19 within San Diego County’s homeless population so far, Norris said.

— Cody Dulaney, inewsource

Newsom Orders Eligibility Extension For Medi-Cal; Safety Net Services

– 10:20 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

California Gov. Newsom issued an executive order Wednesday to extend the eligibility period for important safety net services, like health care, food assistance and in-home services for vulnerable residents.

“These social safety net programs are so important for families — especially during this crisis,” Newsom said. “We don’t want Californians who rely on these services to lose them.”

The order waives eligibility re-determinations for 90 days for Californians who participate in the following services:

–Medi-Cal health coverage

–CalFresh food assistance

–CalWORKS

–Cash Assistance for Immigrants; and

–In-Home Supportive Services

USD, SDSU Ask To Move Out Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

– 8:42 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Students at University of San Diego and San Diego State University will move out of their dorms Wednesday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

– 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, rose to 60 Tuesday, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The number includes 51 San Diego County residents, five under federal quarantine at MCAS Miramar and four non-San Diego residents.

Also, San Diego State University on Tuesday ordered students to move off campus immediately. Students are asked to move out by 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The only exceptions are students who can't go home, those without a home to return to and those with known health and safety risks.

Read more here

San Diego City Council Passes Moratorium On Evictions

4:50 p.m., Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The city of San Diego has placed a moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday afternoon.

The move puts a limit on evictions for late or non-payment because of job issues or illness.

"We want to be very clear about that," he said. "We want San Diegans to know that they will not have to worry about losing their homes during this time of crisis."

City Council President Georgette Gomez echos that sentiment.

"We're doing our best effort," she said. "We're acting as leaders to keep our community safe."

Read more here

Navy Closes Its Training Support Command Center In SD Due to Coronavirus Cases

4:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Navy announced Tuesday it closed its Training Support Command center in San Diego after a third sailor with ties to the school tested presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus.

Two students and an instructor at the school, along with another sailor in the San Diego region stationed on the USS Boxer, have tested presumptive positive for the illness, according to the Navy.

The latest sailor with ties to the school tested positive Saturday, and the center was closed that day, but the Navy did not announce the case until Tuesday. That sailor is stationed aboard the USS Essex and had been attending a course at Naval Base San Diego since Feb. 6.

Read more here

National City Closes City Facilities To Public In Response To COVID-19

3:22 p.m., March 17, 2020

National City announced it is closing all city facilities to the public in response to the coronavirus pandemic effective Wednesday.

This includes City Hall, police and fire departments, library, recreation centers and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

All bathrooms in the city parks are also closed.

Photo caption:

Photo by Andi Dukleth

San Diego County Supervisor provides an update regarding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in San Diego, March 17, 2020.

County Health Officials Investigate Two COVID-19 Clusters Among 55 Confirmed Cases

2:36 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020

San Diego County on Tuesday said it is investigating two clusters of coronavirus cases among the 55 confirmed cases.

One is a cluster of four individuals who contracted COVID-19 via community spread, county epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said. Some of the individuals are active-duty service members who are known to each other. Three are at home and one is in the hospital.

The other cluster is a group of seven people who went on a ski trip to Colorado. Six are at home and one is in the hospital.

McDonald said of the 489 individuals in federal quarantine at MCAS Miramar, 132 have left and returned to their home states. And as of last night, 357 still there. There are plans to have 115 people flown out Tuesday under Operarion Homeward Bound.

Only two individuals under quarantine at MCAS Miramar are San Diego residents, he said.

"The county has been in contact with both of those individuals and have been providing some of their supportive needs while they remain in federal custody,” McDonald said.

California Confirms More Than 500 COVID-19 Cases

11 A.M., March 17, 2020

There are now more than 500 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in the state of California, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Nearly 100 of those cases are community-acquired, meaning the infected person did not travel to a region with the outbreak or had any known contact with someone who had.

In San Diego, a sailor at Naval Base Point Loma tested positive for the virus, the Navy said Monday night, making him the second sailor in San Diego County to contract the virus.

One sailor at Navy Base San Diego tested positive on Friday. Both sailors are in isolation at their respective residences, according to the Navy. Anyone else who had been in contact with those sailors are also in quarantine.

Mayor Faulconer Closes Bars, Clubs To Slow Spread Of Virus

UPDATE: 5 P.M., March 16, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Monday followed the county's lead and directed all bars and clubs to close until the end of the month effective at midnight.

The mayor also directed restaurants to close sit-in dining and offer take-out and delivery only.

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said his vice officers will be out Monday to educate bars and restaurants on the order. His main concern, he said, is education, not enforcement but if needs be, officers can use the vice ordinance to enforce the order.

"We're all in this together," Nisleit said. He said he understands there is a financial cost but public safety is more important.

Council President Georgette Gomez also announced that the City Council will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday to mandate a moratorium on residential evictions, business evictions as well as the city's vehicle habitation ordinance.

Photo caption:

Photo by Bennett Lacy

A closed signed at the Sweet Things Frozen Yogurt store at the Hilton Bayfront in downtown San Diego on March 14, 2020, because of the coronavirus crisis.

As County Coronavirus Cases Rise to 55, Health Officials Close Schools, Bars

3 P.M., March 16, 2020

The county of San Diego on Monday banned public gatherings of 50 or more people as well as banning all bars, adult entertainment and any establishments that serve alcohol but no food to close as a way to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Restaurants are also ordered to close on-site dining and offer take-out only. Restaurants will need to establish a protocol for social distancing for pick-up orders.

Businesses have been ordered to offer to telecommute and establish a protocol for social distancing and not require a doctor's note for sick leave.

The order goes into effect at midnight.

The complete orders are:

  1. All gathering of 50 people or more are prohibited.
  2. All bars, adult entertainment and other establishments that serve alcohol but not food shall close.
  3. All restaurants are ordered to close on-site dining, offer take-out only and establish social distancing for order pick-ups.
  4. All businesses should allow employees to telecommute, establish social distancing and suspend any policies that require a doctor's note for sick leave.
  5. All schools and school activities are closed.
  6. Strong recommendation that people who are 65 and older, or immune-compromised or have a chronic underlying condition self-quarantine.
  7. Non-essential personnel are banned from entering hospitals and long-term care facilities. Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 are also banned form entering hospitals and long-term care facilities.
  8. Hospitals and healthcare providers are ordered to preserve resources and stop non-emergent and elective surgeries when possible.
  9. All COVID-19 test results are to be reported to the county immediately.
  10. Anyone arriving in the county from a CDC Level-3 warning countries, including just passing through on a layover, are subject to a 14-day home quarantine and self-monitoring.
  11. Strong recommendation that anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate at home unless seeking medical treatment.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the public should be prepared for much more severe and drastic actions, if necessary.

Read more here

UPDATE: 11:27 A.M., March 16, 2020

Local Leaders Announce Creation Of COVID-19 Fund To Help Impacted Communities

A coalition of regional partners announced Monday the creation of a fund to help support communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund will award grants to nonprofit organizations with experience supporting impacted communities, especially those that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and its economic consequences.

The fund is made up of several partners, including San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), The San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego County and San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

San Diego county leaders announcing the launch of the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund on March 16, 2020, to help low-wage earners during the coronavirus crisis.

UPDATE: 11:19 A.M., March 16, 2020

The federal jail in downtown San Diego has suspended inmate visits for at least 30 days.

The ban is part of the Bureau of Prisons national effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 among prison populations and staff. The ban also included legal visits from lawyers.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center holds about 1,000 inmates.

UPDATE: 7:27 A.M., March 16, 2020

The San Diego Superior Court announced Monday morning that the court will not be asking jurors to appear for duty this week.

The court said the decision came following new guidance from the CDC recommending that people don't gather in groups larger than 50 people.

“Our community’s health is important to us all and while we had COVID-19 procedures in place to provide enough social distancing for summoned jurors in our jury services room, having a jury pool of 50 people will not provide us with enough people for fair trials,” says San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne.

The court is asking that jurors currently seated on a trial or are in deliberations to report to the courtroom for further guidance from the judge.

UPDATE: 7:00 A.M., March 16, 2020

Officials at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Monday announced an increase in the level of health protection due to the continued outbreak of COVID-19 including two Marines at the base testing positive for the virus.

One Miramar Marine tested positive on Friday and another on Saturday.

Effective immediately, drivers entering the gate will hold up ID so guards do not have to touch them. Fitness facilities will have modified hours to increase cleaning throughout the day. Chapel services and base tours are

cancelled until further notice.

UPDATE: 8:41 P.M., March 15, 2020

San Diego County health officials released new information Sunday night on the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising the total number of positive cases to 39.

On Saturday, two UC San Diego Health staff were confirmed to have coronavirus, as well as one Navy sailor and one Marine.

A graphic image shows the number of positive cases of coronavirus in San Diego County since Feb. 14, 2020.

UPDATE: 6:21 P.M., March 15, 2020

Encinitas Union School District Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

An employee at an elementary school in Encinitas as tested positive coronavirus, the Encinitas Union School District announced Sunday.

The district only identified the employee as a staff member at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary.

Test samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation. The county will now conduct a “contact investigation” for those who tested positive to see who else they may have possibly exposed to the coronavirus.

On Friday, the county reported eight presumptive positive cases and three from the federal quarantine. On Saturday, there were six more presumptive positive cases.

UPDATE: 6:21 P.M., March 15, 2020

Sailor Aboard USS Boxer Test Positive For Coronavirus

A sailor aboard the USS Boxer tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first sailor aboard a U.S. Navy ship to contract the virus, the Navy announced Sunday.

The sailor is currently considered presumptive positive and awaiting confirmation by the CDC. The Navy says that personnel aboard the USS Boxer are taking "appropriate preventative measures and conducting a thorough cleaning in accordance with specific guidance from the CDC and Navy-Marine Corps Public Health Center."

UPDATE: 6:21 P.M., March 15, 2020

Chula Vista Suspends Operations Except Public Safetys

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Cars pass under the Third Avenue sign in downtown Chula Vista, Oct. 7, 2014.

Operations for the city of Chula Vista are temporarily suspended Monday and Tuesday except for public safety, officials announced Sunday.

"In an effort to stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the city of Chula Vista will temporarily suspend full operations on March 16 and 17, to focus our efforts on providing critical public safety services," said Anne Steinberger, public information officer for the city. "We will resume additional essential services as soon as possible in order to minimize disruption within our community, while continuing to emphasize social distancing and limiting risk to employees and residents."

The March 17 City Council meeting will be held as scheduled, Steinberger said. Members of the public will be asked to submit comments electronically and council members will be participating electronically, she said.

Read more here

UPDATE: 6:19 P.M., March 15, 2020

Harrah's Resort To Close For Two Weeks

An image of Harrah's Rincon website announcing it's local closure, March 15, 2020.

As a precaution during the coronavirus outbreak, Harrah's Resort Southern California decided to close for two weeks, Rincon Tribe leaders announced Sunday.

The resort at 777 Harrah's Rincon Way will close beginning at 6 a.m. Monday, saying on its website, "The health and safety of guests and teammates is our top priority and it guides all of our decisions at the resort."

Read more here

UPDATE: 3:37 P.M., March 15, 2020

North County Firefighters To Suspend Most Public Interactions

Photo credit: Cal Fire San Diego

A Cal Fire truck at the Vista Fire on July 17, 2019.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, fire officials in North County Sunday suspended most firefighter and paramedic interactions with the public except to answer 911 emergency fire and medical aid calls, authorities said.

Read more here

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