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Coronavirus Blog Archive

An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Above: An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.

Record 1,091 COVID-19 Cases Reported As Officials Urge Caution Over Thanksgiving

- 5:36 p.m., Friday Nov. 20, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported a record-high 1,091 new COVID-19 infections and eight deaths Friday, raising the region's totals to 69,231 cases and 960 deaths.

Four women and four men died between Nov. 1 and Nov. 19. Their ages ranged from early 50s to early 90s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Friday was the 10th consecutive day more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county, and the most reported in a single day. On Sunday, 1,087 cases were recorded, 922 were reported Wednesday and 899 on Thursday.

"The virus is widespread and every element of our community is impacted," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Now more than ever it is vital that San Diegans avoid gatherings and crowds, wear a face covering when they are out in public and stay home if they are sick."

The last seven days have marked the highest daily case counts in San Diego County since the start of the pandemic, with 736 cases reported on Saturday, 833 on Monday and 718 on Tuesday.

On Nov. 11, a then-record 661 cases were reported — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Nov. 12.

A total of 34,021 tests — a new record — were reported Friday and 3% of those came back positive, dropping the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.7%

The number of COVID-19 cases in the hospital continues to rise, with 440 currently hospitalized in the county and 127 in intensive care — nearly double the numbers a month ago.

Wooten said anyone hosting a gathering should keep it small, short and safe.

"Small" meaning gatherings should be limited to a maximum of three stable households. "Short" meaning the gathering should last two hours or less. And "safe" meaning that people should stay outdoors as much as possible and wear a face covering when they are not eating or drinking.

Of the total number of cases in the county Wednesday, 4,329 — or 6.3% — have required hospitalization and 981 patients — or 1.4% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Eleven new community outbreaks were confirmed Friday, three in business settings, three in faith-based settings, two in childcare settings; one in a TK-12 school setting, one in a restaurant/bar setting and one in a gym setting.

Riverside COVID-19 Deaths Hit 1,400 Mark

– 5:12 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Riverside County increased by 433, with a slight elevation in virus-related hospitalizations and deaths reported Friday.

The aggregate number of infections recorded countywide since the public health documentation period began in early March was at 78,442 on Friday, compared to 78,009 on Thursday, according to the Riverside University Health System.

Officials said the number of deaths stemming from complications related to COVID-19 stands at 1,400, on Friday, up four from a day earlier.

The number of COVID-positive hospitalizations was at 375 on Friday, compared to 362 on Thursday, including 99 intensive care unit patients, 14 more than the day before, RUHS figures showed.

County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton said during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting that the rise in COVID-19 caseloads has not overwhelmed area hospitals, which continue to operate with excess bed capacity.

"The good news is, there has been a lot of surge planning," Barton said. "This is familiar territory for the hospitals. They have processes and procedures in place."

He said individuals with a critical medical need of any kind should not hesitate to visit medical facilities, because they "are still safe" thanks to triaging that separates potentially contagious people from those who aren't.

The county's peak in hospitalizations occurred in mid-July, when nearly 600 COVID-positive patients were under general or intensive care.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was at 11,429 on Friday, an increase of 243 compared to Thursday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 78,442 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 65,613. — City News Service

Judge Hears Case On Whether San Diego Restaurants And Gyms Can Operate Indoor Amid Virus Surge

– 1:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20, 2020

The lawsuit was filed by four local businesses vs the state of California and San Diego County over coronavirus restrictions that have led to another shutdown of nonessential businesses' indoor operations.

WATCH: Judge Hears Case On Whether San Diego Restaurants And Gyms Can Operate Indoors Amid Virus Surge

Health Care Systems, Community, To Be Involved In San Diego County Vaccine Rollout

– 5:40 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020

San Diego County is tapping health care professionals and community leaders to help with the rollout of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.

Local officials are discussing multiple scenarios as COVID-19 candidates inch closer to regulatory review for possible emergency use authorization.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said during an unscheduled news briefing Thursday that planning includes both distribution and communication strategies.

“Brainstorming possible logistical arrangements — storage facilities, other types of things we could need — planning out a robust communications strategy to engage with the public when appropriate about who is eligible, where they could go and how that might work,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said a county clinical advisory group composed of health care providers and medical system representatives will begin meeting after Thanksgiving. The supervisor said the county is also developing community working groups.

“To make sure we’re working with community stakeholders and leaders from throughout San Diego County to make sure that there is sharing of information in a very transparent way around what is happening and what is available,” Fletcher said. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

San Diego Sheriff Steps Up COVID-19 Compliance Enforcement

– 4:30 p.m., Nov. 19, 2020

San Diego County officials announced Thursday that law enforcement will step up COVID-19 compliance protocols, including education and citations, amid spiking coronavirus cases.

Sheriff Bill Gore said four two-deputy teams will begin making "a full-time commitment" of the county's 18 cities and unincorporated areas, ensuring compliance with public health orders. Several cities have already confirmed they will send officers to assist deputies in their duties, Gore said.

The county has issued 52 cease-and-desist orders since Monday, including five Wednesday to Flicks in Hillcrest, Grinder Gym in Bay Park, Major's Diner in Pine Valley, RSD Boxing in Spring Valley and Studio Barre in Torrey Highlands. Residents can report egregious violations of the health order with the county complaint line at 858-694-2900 or email SafeReopeningComplianceTeam@sdcounty.ca.gov.

Gore said deputies would not be going door-to-door, rather following up on complaints. Education about public health orders will be the first method used, Gore said. Citations could follow.

"The bottom line is, wear those damn masks out there and social distance," he said.

Newsom Issues Limited Curfew To Slow COVID-19 Spread

– 2:20 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a limited statewide curfew that will go into effect Saturday.

The stay-at-home order prohibits all non-essential work, movement and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties that are in the purple tier. The order goes into effect at 10 p.m. Saturday and remains in effect until 5 a.m. Dec. 21.

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”

More than 94% of the state’s population are living in counties that are in the state’s most restrictive tier of the four-tier reopening plan. California’s case rates have increased by roughly 50% during the first week of November.

California Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Ghaly Provides Update State's COVID-19 Response

In San Diego, the county has seen a seventh straight day of more than 600 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

On Monday, Newsom pulled the “emergency brake” on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. In recent days, the governor has been under hot water for attending a birthday party at a ritzy restaurant in violation of his own public health guidance.

— Alexander Nguyen, KPBS News

San Diego Airport Gives Update On COVID-19 Safety Measure For Travel

– 9:40 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration and San Diego International Airport will host a news conference to provide an inside look at some of the procedural changes that have been put in place at security checkpoints due to the spread of COVID-19 before the holiday travel

season.

TSA will demonstrate two types of touchless technologies in use at the airport to decrease touchpoints during the screening process. Airport officials

will showcase the health and safety modifications implemented in the terminals as well as offer holiday travel tips. – City News Service

Vaccine Distribution Planning 'In Progress' In San Diego County

– 4:53 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020

San Diego County is waiting on details from regulators and manufacturers to solidify its plans to distribute a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

San Diego Health and Human Services Agency Spokeswoman Sarah Sweeney said development of a county strategy is ongoing as further specifics hinge on when and which vaccine would be first approved for emergency use.

“Much of the local planning is dependent on decisions still-to-be-made at federal and state level, along with those made by the vaccine manufacturers on the quantity available,” Sweeney said in an email. “Given that reality, local distribution planning is still in progress.”

RELATED: Fauci: Vaccine Results Are 'Important Advance,' But Virus Precautions Are Still Vital

She said local officials are building their approach based on guidelines published in October by the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both documents call on regions to identify and estimate volumes of high-risk populations that may be first in line, such as healthcare workers, people 65 years or older and those living in congregate settings.

“We expand on this plan, including identifying priority groups, as guidance grows and changes,” Sweeney said.

The CDC playbook said critical populations may also include essential workers that could vary based on location.

“Each jurisdiction must decide which groups to focus on when vaccine supply is limited by determining key sectors that may be within their populations (e.g., port-related workers in coastal jurisdictions),” the document said.

However, the document also asks agencies to consider alternative plans if its first phase vaccine supply, which is expected to be limited, wouldn’t cover all populations they identified.

Sweeney added that “large hospitals/health care plans will work separately with the state and federal government” to obtain a vaccine supply. She said that included “pharmacists and other healthcare providers.”

CDC’s potential critical populations

Healthcare personnel (may include vaccinators, pharmacy staff, ancillary staff, school nurses, and EMS personnel)

Other essential workers

Residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities

People with underlying medical conditions that are risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness

People 65 years of age and older

People from racial and ethnic minority groups

People from tribal communities

People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities

People experiencing homelessness/living in shelters

People attending colleges/universities

People who work in educational settings (e.g., early learning centers, schools, and colleges/universities)

People living and working in other congregate settings

People living in rural communities

People with disabilities

People who are under- or uninsured

Source: COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, October, 29, 2020, pg. 15

– Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

SD County Reports 922 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths

– 4:51 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020

San Diego County health officials Wednesday reported 922 newly diagnosed COVID-19 infections and a dozen fatalities, raising the county's cumulative case total to 67,241 and the death toll to 945.

Wednesday was the eighth consecutive day that more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county and the second-highest single day total reported thus far after Sunday, when 1,087 cases were recorded.

The last five days have marked the highest daily case counts since the start of the pandemic, with 736 cases reported on Saturday, 833 on Monday and 718 on Tuesday.

Last Wednesday, a then-record 661 cases were reported — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Thursday.

Seven women and five men died between Nov. 5 and Nov. 17, according to county health officials. Their ages ranged from late 50s to mid-90s. All had underlying medical conditions.

A total of 14,306 tests were reported Wednesday and 6% of those came back positive, raising the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.7%

Of the total number of cases in the county, 4,274 — or 6.4% — have required hospitalization and 971 patients — or 1.4% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. – City News Service

SDSU Pauses In-Person Instruction For Fall Semester

– 12:22 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020

San Diego State University will pause the majority of its in-person instruction for the rest of the fall semester beginning Thanksgiving week, the university announced Tuesday.

In a statement, SDSU President Adela de la Torre and Provost Salvador Hector Ochoa said the university is encouraging faculty to convert to remote learning by Nov. 20, but must do by Nov. 25.

“While COVID-19 cases connected with our SDSU community have been quite low for the last two months, the case rate of San Diego County and our state poses a risk to our community,” the statement said.

SDSU experienced a COVID-19 outbreak at the beginning of the school year, which resulted in 1,433 reported cases connected with the university. On Monday, the university reported two students on campus contracted coronavirus. One was taking classes at the Music building and one was a student worker at the Aztec Aquaplex. The two cases are isolated and not connected to other campus-related cases, the school said.

Exceptions to SDSU’s new rules are off-campus teaching activities at non-SDSU institutions, including hospitals and clinics, and graduate students working on “approved, critical research projects.”

In addition, on-campus residents must share their post-Thanksgiving housing plans no later than Nov. 20. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

Riverside County Supervisor Questions 'Surge' Data As COVID-19 Numbers Climb

– 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17, 202

Like the rest of the state, Riverside County's coronavirus infection rate is rising, but health officials said Tuesday area hospitals are prepared for what appears to be a second-wave surge in cases — while one county supervisor continued questioning the reliability of COVID-19 data.

"We are surpassing our previous statewide surge (in July)," county Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said. "It's consistent with what's happening in the nation."

She said the county now has a state-adjusted new case rate of 22.4 per 100,000 residents and an overall state-calculated positivity rate of 8.9%, up from 6.7%.

On the brighter side, however, the county's testing level is at 282.1 per 100,000. The revised state threshold for large counties is 272 per 100,000, according to Saruwatari.

Supervisor Karen Spiegel expressed disappointment about the general rise in COVID-positive cases but also worried about the reliability of the data.

"I know the numbers are going up, but there is a question about some of the testing, with false-positives and that whole nightmare," Spiegel said.

She pointed to social media chatter, including a Twitter post last week by SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who wrote, "Something bogus is going on. Was tested for COVID four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive."

Musk specified in his post, however, that all four tests were rapid antigen tests, which experts have long described as yielding less accurate — although faster — results than the more standard PCR tests. — City News Service

San Diego County Supervisors OK Additional $2M For COVID-19 Income Relief

–2:17 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020

San Diego County Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to allocate an additional $2 million for an income replacement program for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Supervisor Jim Desmond voted no, while Kristin Gaspar abstained although she attended the meeting held telephonically.

On Aug. 25, the board approved a $6.5 billion operating budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year that included $2 million for those who tested positive for the coronavirus, allowing them to stay home. Each recipient would receive a one-time amount of $1,000, according to a county staff report.

The amount approved Tuesday adds another $2 million to the program.

The board voted after an update on county efforts in response to the pandemic. Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer, told the board that with over nearly 1,100 cases reported on Sunday alone, the county had "passed a sobering threshold."

However, with the recent announcement of two promising coronavirus vaccines, "we can see light at the end of the tunnel," she added. Wooten urged all residents to do their part in stopping the spread, including social distancing, wearing masks, washing their hands, avoiding crowded areas and staying home if they are sick.

Supervisors also heard from numerous business owners and residents, nearly all of them strongly opposed to restrictions associated with the county's recent demotion to the most restrictive purple tier of California's four-tier COVID-19 reopening plan. Associated restrictions took effect just after midnight Saturday. — City News Service

San Diego County Serves Cease-And-Desist Letters To Businesses Not Following COVID-19 Rules

–11:37 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020

San Diego County has seen surging coronavirus cases, leading the county to enter the state's most restrictive "purple tier" for reopening. This has required businesses like restaurants, gyms and houses of worship to switch back to operating outdoors only.

Despite this, the county has acknowledged that there are businesses flouting the latest restrictions. As a result, county officials have issued cease-and-desist letters — the first step toward legally cracking down on a business's public health order violation — to 17 entities.

San Dego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county's ability to restrain violators depended on cooperation from local law enforcement agencies. El Cajon, he said, had "proudly proclaimed that they will not enforce any public health orders or hold anyone accountable for egregious or blatant violations." – KPBS Staff

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise Over Weekend In Riverside County

– 6:17 p.m., Monday, Nov. 16, 2020

The number of coronavirus infections confirmed in Riverside County increased by 1,668 over the weekend, with seven additional deaths stemming from virus complications, amid a general statewide upswing in COVID cases that prompted the governor Monday to announce a tightening of economic restrictions.

"California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet -- faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes."

He said he has applied an "emergency brake" on the color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which entails a four-stage tier structure to lower the regulatory bar and allow economic sectors to reopen.

The county is already in the lowest tier, "purple," impacting offices, gyms, restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship.

The Board of Supervisors will discuss the governor's action during its meeting Tuesday. — City News Service

WATCH: San Diego Businesses Hold Rally Downtown Against New COVID-19 Restrictions

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 16, 2020

Supervisor Jim Desmond holds a rally outside of the County Administration Building to urge the Board of Supervisors and Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow San Diego County businesses to remain open despite the state-mandated restrictions brought on by the purple tier.

Businesses Call To Save San Diego In Light Of The Governor’s 'Purple Tier' Shutdowns

San Diego Reports 6th Consecutive Day Of 600-Plus New Coronavirus Cases

– 2 38 p.m., Monday, Nov. 16, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported another huge jump in COVID-19 cases — 833 — but no additional deaths Monday, bringing the county's total to 65,501 cases, with the death toll remaining at 926.

Monday was the sixth consecutive day that more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county. The 833 cases reported Monday are the second most the county has announced in a single day during the pandemic, following a record high of 1,087 reported Sunday and a then-record 736 Saturday.

On Wednesday, a then-record 661 cases were reported in the county — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Thursday.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department announced Monday that 55 of 70 inmates in the 1C module of the George Bailey Detention Facility had tested positive for COVID-19.

County To Give Update On COVID-19

Newsom Pulls 'Emergency Brake' On State's Reopening Plan As Virus Cases Surge

– 2 p.m., Monday, Nov. 16, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was pulling the “emergency brake” Monday on the state's efforts to reopen its economy as coronavirus cases surge more dramatically than they did during a summer spike.

“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes."

The action that Newsom called the “emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy” will impose more restrictions on businesses across most of the state. He said masks would now be required outside homes with limited exceptions.

The troubling rise in cases in November has come at a faster pace than a spike in mid-June and could quickly surpass the peak of the hospitalizations at the time, health officials have said. The state became the second in the U.S. last week to surpass 1 million case of the virus as the U.S. has now recorded more than 11 million cases.

The new rules are certain to rankle business owners such as restaurateurs and gym owners who have been struggling to get back on their feet after lengthy shutdowns followed by reopenings that have at times been curtailed as cases have risen. — Associated Press

SD County Reports Record Of 1,087 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5:36 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported a huge jump in COVID-19 cases — a record 1,087 — and no additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 64,768 cases and the death toll remaining at 926.

Sunday was the fifth-consecutive day that more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county.

On Saturday, the county set a record of 736 new cases. On Wednesday, a record 661 cases were reported in the county — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Thursday.

"We have not seen cases this high in months, and it's a clear indication that COVID-19 is widespread," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.– City News Service

SD County Reports Record 736 New COVID-19 Cases, Five More Deaths

– 5:36 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported a record 736 new COVID-19 cases Saturday and five more deaths as nonessential businesses moved to outdoor-only when the county went from the red to the purple tier of the state's four-tiered coronavirus reopening plan.

The data increases the total caseload since the start of the pandemic to 63,681, with the death toll rising to 926. This is the fourth consecutive day that more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county.

On Wednesday, a record 661 COVID-19 cases were reported in the county — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Thursday.

"We have not seen cases this high in months, and it's a clear indication that COVID-19 is widespread," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

"These totals also show people are not following the public health recommendations that we know work to prevent getting and passing COVID-19."

Wooten added that in the weeks following Halloween, this record case jump is a warning sign people "need to follow public health guidance throughout the upcoming holiday season."

This comes as state data has landed the county in the most restrictive tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening plan. The restrictions associated with the purple tier went into effect just after midnight Saturday. – City News Service

U.S. Adds 184,000 Coronavirus Cases In 1 Day, With No End In Sight

– 4:01 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020

The U.S. added more than 184,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, the fourth day in a row that the country has set a record for daily infections, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

It has been about four weeks since the U.S. overtook India to see the most daily cases of any country in the world. While India's case numbers spiked in September, they have largely been on a downward path since then. But cases in the U.S. continue to surge. For the first time, the country's seven-day moving average of new cases has surpassed 150,000.

America is also the world leader in coronavirus fatalities, with over 244,000 COVID-19 related deaths. More than 1,400 people died from the virus in the U.S. on Friday — the most deaths that day of any country.

For the moment, daily deaths are below the peak of around 2,200 daily fatalities the U.S. saw in April. But deaths are known to lag behind rising infection rates, as it often takes several weeks for the virus to become fatal. – Matthew S. Schwartz, NPR

San Diego Has Third Straight Day Of 600-Plus New COVID-19 Cases

– 5:35 p.m, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported an additional 611 COVID-19 cases and three more deaths Friday as nonessential businesses prepare for another closure at midnight as the county prepares to enter the purple tier of the state's four-tiered coronavirus reopening plan.

The data increases the total caseload since the start of the pandemic to 62,945, with the death toll rising to 921. This is the third consecutive day that more than 600 new coronavirus cases were reported by the county.

On Wednesday, a record 661 COVID-19 cases were reported in the county — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7. Another 620 cases were reported Thursday.

"We have not seen cases this high in months, and it's a clear indication that COVID-19 is widespread," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

"These totals also show people are not following the public health recommendations that we know work to prevent getting and passing COVID-19."

Wooten added that in the weeks following Halloween, this record case jump is a warning sign people "need to follow public health guidance throughout the upcoming holiday season." — City News Service

Local Restaurants, Gyms, Sue County And State Over COVID-19 Shutdowns

– 3:21 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

Four local restaurants and gyms are suing the state and county over its coronavirus restrictions as a shutdown of indoor operations looms for many county businesses.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in San Diego Superior Court on behalf of Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop, Home & Away Encinitas, Fit Athletic Club and Bear Republic.

The suit comes as San Diego County is slated to shut down indoor operations for nonessential businesses at midnight due to its recent entry into the most restrictive, purple tier of the state's coronavirus reopening plan.

The businesses allege that San Diego's increased case numbers are not a result of exposures at restaurants, gyms and other types of businesses that will be impacted by the impending closures. The lawsuit cites recent figures indicating restaurants/bars, retail businesses, places of worship, schools and gyms make up a small percentage of confirmed community outbreaks. – City News Service

Newsom Says He Should Not Have Attended Dinner Party

3:15 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he should not have attended a birthday dinner for a dozen people at the posh French Laundry restaurant last week, saying that he should have set a better example for a virus-fatigued state that is seeing steep increases in coronavirus cases.

Newsom, who has pleaded with residents to avoid social gatherings that mix households, said in a statement Friday that “while our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday of the Nov. 6 dinner to celebrate the 50th birthday of Newsom's longtime friend and political adviser Jason Kinney. The outdoor dinner at The French Laundry in Yountville in Napa County brought together 12 people, including the governor and his wife.

State guidelines limit gatherings, defined as “social situations that bring together people from different households at the same time in a single space or place,” to no more than three households. It's unclear if the rule applies to restaurants, however, which follow different guidance.

The California Republican Party said in a tweet that the governor “seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.“ — Associated Press

WATCH: California Health And Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly Gives Update On COVID-19 In California

– 12:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

California, Oregon, Washington Issue Virus Travel Advisories

– 11:45 a.m., Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington issued travel advisories Friday urging people entering their states or returning from outside the states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus, California Gov. Gavin Newsom's office said.

The advisories urge people to avoid non-essential out-of-state travel, ask people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country and encourage residents to stay local, a statement said.

“California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” Newsom wrote. “Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians." – Associated Press

SD County Reports Additional 1,281 COVID-19 Cases Over Two-Day Period

– 11:43 a.m., Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported an additional 620 COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, increasing the total caseload since the start of the pandemic to 62,334, with the death toll rising to 918.

On Tuesday, a record 661 COVID-19 cases were reported in the county — surpassing the 652 cases reported Aug. 7.

"We have not seen cases this high in months and it's a clear indication that COVID-19 is widespread," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

"These totals also show people are not following the public health recommendations that we know work to prevent getting and passing COVID-19."

Wooten added that in the weeks following Halloween, this record case jump is a warning sign people "need to follow public health guidance throughout the upcoming holiday season."

This comes as state data has landed the county in the most restrictive tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening plan. The restrictions associated with the purple tier will go into place just after midnight tonight, Wooten said. – City News Service

Escondido's Pioneer Elementary Suspends On-Campus Activities After 3 COVID-19 Cases

– 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020

All on-campus activities, including in-person classes, at Pioneer Elementary School were suspended after three people tested positive for the coronavirus, the Escondido Union School District (EUSD) announced Thursday.

The district said the cases were separate, unrelated to each other and happened off-campus. The temporary suspension was done out of “an abundance of caution” and will last through Nov. 30.

“We understand that an interruption of on-campus activities causes a huge disruption to our families and staff. But this action is necessary to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community,” EUSD superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra said. “The safety and security of our students and staff continue to be at the forefront of all decisions.”

The distribution of free, to-go meals, however, will continue, the district said.

To date, there have been 17 COVID-19 cases at EUSD impacting nine campuses, resulting in 165 students and 33 staffers being quarantined. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS News

California Surpasses 1 Million Coronavirus Cases Mark

– 4:05 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020

California has become the second state to record 1 million confirmed coronavirus infections. Texas reached the mark earlier this week.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed Thursday that California surpassed the grim milestone. It comes nearly 10 months after the first cases were confirmed in the most populous state.

California was the first in the nation to implement a statewide stay-at-home order on its nearly 40 million residents in March.

After spiking in the summer, the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California declined markedly into the fall but now is surging again, like much of the nation. This week, 11 counties had rates high enough that state restrictions were reimposed on certain businesses and activities. — Associated Press

San Diego Courts Not Closing Despite County’s Purple Tier Status

– 1:40 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020

San Diego County's recent dip into the most restrictive tier of the state's coronavirus reopening plan will not lead to additional court closures or changes to local court operations, the San Diego Superior Court announced Thursday.

Rising case rates led the state to place San Diego County into the purple tier of the reopening plan, meaning indoor operations will cease at many nonessential businesses starting Saturday.

While court operations were initially put on hold at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, court officials said its essential status will not lead to further modifications even with this latest development. Precautions such as temperature screenings, increased cleaning, social distancing and facial covering requirements remain in place. – City News Service

SD County Will Enter Purple Tier On Saturday

– 1:01 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020

State data has landed San Diego County in the most restrictive tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening plan, meaning nonessential businesses now have one day to prepare for the regression.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said the restrictions associated with the purple tier will go into place just after midnight Friday.

Many nonessential businesses will be required to move to outdoor-only operations. These include restaurants, family entertainment centers, wineries, places of worship, movie theaters, museums, gyms, zoos, aquariums and cardrooms. Amusement parks, and live audience sporting events are closed. Bars, breweries and distilleries will be able to remain open as long as they are able to operate outside and with food on the same ticket as alcohol.

Retail businesses and shopping centers will be able to remain open with 25% of the building's capacity. No food courts will be permitted.

Schools will be able to remain open for in-person learning if they are already in session. If a district has not reopened for in-person learning, it must remain remote only. Offices are restricted to remote work only.

Remaining open are essential services, personal care services, barbershops, hair salons, outdoor playgrounds and recreational facilities. – City News Service

COVID-19 Testing Center Opens In Vista To Get Kids Back In School

– 6:10 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

A new COVID-19 testing center opened Wednesday in Vista at the Linda Rhodes Recreation Center in an effort to combat the spread of the virus. The opening of the new site is a collaborative effort from the County, City and school district, aimed at supporting the school reopening plan.

Vista Unified school district said in a statement that they “remain committed to working in collaboration with the community to find solutions and pathways for students to return to on-campus, in-person learning.”

The free testing center will be open to the public seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m starting Wednesday. No appointment is needed. Linda Rhoades Recreation Center is located at 600 North Santa Fe Avenue in Vista. Anyone 6 months and older can get tested. – Tania Thorne, KPBS North County Reporter

San Diego Gyms Prepare To Operate Outdoors Under Purple Tier

– 6:08 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

Gyms, restaurants, churches and movie theatres will have to stop indoor operations by Saturday, due to a rising number of coronavirus cases San Diego county

"It hasn’t been easy — but in order to thrive you have to adapt," said Point Loma Sports Club general manager Bryan Welch.

Point Loma Sports Club has more than 20,000 square feet of indoor exercise space that will sit dormant for at least the next three weeks. The club is moving all operations to their parking lot where more than 120,000 pounds of equipment is set up.

"Our mindset was let's just assume we’re outside for a year," Welch said.

The sports club has moved group classes outdoors too.

"We require masks basically throughout the facility even outdoors, and we’ve preached that mantra, like, 'I’m not doing it just for me I’m doing it for you and for your family,'" Welch said. – Matt Hoffman, KPBS General Assignment Reporter

San Diego County Enters Purple Tier As COVID-19 Cases Increase

– 12:01 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020

As expected, San Diego County fell back to the most restrictive purple tier of state's coronavirus tracking system Tuesday, meaning indoor restaurants will have to move to outdoor service only, retail businesses will have to further limit capacity and schools will be unable to shift to in- person learning.

The county's demotion from the less-restrictive red tier is the result of two weeks of case rates that exceeded the threshold of 7 per 100,000 residents. In recent weeks, the region had an unadjusted rate well above the purple tier guidelines, but a significant effort to increase the volume of tests had allowed for an adjustment to bring it back to the red, or substantial, tier. Testing has decreased slightly and case numbers are on the rise.

State officials reported Tuesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 10.0 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate dropped to 8.9 per 100,000. Last week's unadjusted case rate was 8.7 per 100,000.

Indoor operations in locations such as restaurants, museums, places of worship, breweries and retail businesses will have to either close entirely, move to outdoor operations only or modify in other ways.

– City News Service

San Diego County Reports 401 New COVID-19 Cases As It Braces For State Announcement

– 9:07 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 401 new COVID-19 infections, raising the region's total to 60,570 cases as health officials await data from the state today which could send the county into the most restrictive "purple" tier of its four-tiered reopening plan.

State officials reported Wednesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate dropped to 7.4 per 100,000, above the baseline of 7, qualifying the state for the purple tier. Last week's unadjusted case rate was 7.8 per 100,000.

In recent weeks, the region had an unadjusted rate well above the purple tier guidelines, but a significant effort to increase the volume of tests had allowed for an adjustment to bring it back to the red, or substantial, tier. Testing has decreased slightly and case numbers are on the rise. It is likely the county will officially enter the purple tier this afternoon.

The state data reflect the previous week's case data to determine where counties stand.

According to the reopening plan, a county has to report data exceeding a more restrictive tier's guidelines for two consecutive weeks before being moved to that tier. A county then has to be in that tier for a minimum of three weeks before it may move to a less restrictive tier.

San Diego County has been in the red tier for months, skirting but ultimately avoiding the purple tier, which would necessitate the closure of almost all indoor operations of nonessential businesses.

If the county cannot drop its adjusted daily case rate below 7 per 100,000, indoor operations in locations such as restaurants, museums, places of worship, breweries and retail businesses will have to either close entirely, move to outdoor operations only or modify in other ways. — City News Service

SD County Reports 513 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

San Diego County reported 513 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths Sunday, raising the region's total to 60,169 cases with the death toll remaining at 908.

Local officials will find out Tuesday whether the county will sink into the most restrictive purple tier of the state's four-tiered COVID-19 reopening plan.

State officials reported Wednesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate had dropped to 7.4 per 100,000, above the baseline of 7, qualifying the state for the purple tier. Last week's unadjusted case rate was 7.8 per 100,000.

The state's health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the least healthy conditions, increased from 5.1% to 5.3% and entered the red tier. This metric does not move counties backward to more restrictive tiers, but is required to advance.

– 4:56 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020

SD County Reports 540 New COVID-19 Cases, 1 Death

– 5:03 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 540 new COVID-19 infections and one new death related to the illness, raising the region's total to 59,656 cases and 908 deaths as the county continues to await news on whether it will sink into the dreaded purple tier of the state's four-tiered COVID-19 reopening plan.

State officials reported Wednesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate had dropped to 7.4 per 100,000, above the baseline of 7, qualifying the state for the purple, or most restrictive tier of the reopening plan. Last week's unadjusted case rate was 7.8 per 100,000.

According to the reopening plan, a county has to report data exceeding a more restrictive tier's guidelines for two consecutive weeks before being moved to that more restrictive tier. A county then has to be in that tier for a minimum of three weeks before it may move to a less restrictive tier.

San Diego County has been in the red tier for months, skirting but ultimately avoiding the purple tier, which would necessitate the closure of almost all indoor operations of nonessential businesses. Recent trends have shown a slow but steady increase in infection numbers. – City News Service

SD County Reports 480 New COVID-19 Cases, 3 Deaths

– 4:55 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 480 new COVID-19 infections and three new deaths related to the illness Friday, raising the region's total to 59,116 cases and 907 deaths as the county continues to await news Tuesday on whether it will sink into the dreaded purple tier of the state's four-tiered COVID-19 reopening plan.

Two men and one woman died between Nov. 3 and Nov. 4. Their ages ranged from early 70s to early 90s. All had underlying medical conditions.

State officials reported Wednesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate had dropped to 7.4 per 100,000, above the baseline of 7, qualifying the state for the purple, or most restrictive tier of the reopening plan. Last week's unadjusted case rate was 7.8 per 100,000.

According to the reopening plan, a county has to report data exceeding a more restrictive tier's guidelines for two consecutive weeks before being moved to that more restrictive tier. A county then has to be in that tier for a minimum of three weeks before it may move to a less restrictive tier.

San Diego County has been in the red tier for months, skirting but ultimately avoiding the purple tier, which would necessitate the closure of almost all indoor operations of nonessential businesses. Recent trends have shown a slow but steady increase in infection numbers.

If the county cannot drop its adjusted daily case rate below 7 per 100,000, indoor operations in locations such as restaurants, museums, places of worship, breweries and retail businesses will have to either close entirely, move to outdoor operations only or modify in other ways. — City News Service

County Health Officials Urge Public To Continue Routine Medical, Dental Care

– 4:50 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, 2020

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency urged San Diegans Friday to not delay routine medical and dental care amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Physicians and dentists across the county are reporting that fewer patients are scheduling annual medical and routine preventive dental visits, county officials said. County health officials are concerned about this trend delaying necessary care, causing more severe health issues in the future.

"Regular visits to your primary care physician and dentist are essential self-care activities that can prevent painful procedures and costly medical bills down the line," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Detecting and treating chronic conditions is especially important during this pandemic because people with underlying conditions are at a higher risk of poor outcomes of COVID-19."

At the beginning of the pandemic, health officials urged the public to seek care only for urgent and emergency procedures due to a desire to conserve personal protective equipment for medical providers in hospitals and because of concerns about possible transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Since then, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association have developed science-based recommendations for enhanced infection control procedures for medical and dental offices. — City News Service

530 New COVID-19 Cases Reported As County Teeters On Sliding Into Purple Tier

– 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 530 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, raising the region's total to 58,636 cases. The county is currently awaiting news on whether it will sink into the dreaded purple tier of the state's four-tiered COVID-19 reopening plan by Tuesday.

No new deaths were reported. The total fatalities related to the illness in the county remains at 904.

State officials reported Wednesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate dropped to 7.4 per 100,000, above the baseline of 7, qualifying the state for the purple, or most restrictive tier of the reopening plan. Last week's unadjusted case rate was 7.8 per 100,000.

"It would take a significant change in trajectory," Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday of avoiding purple.

According to the reopening plan, a county has to report data exceeding a more restrictive tier's guidelines for two consecutive weeks before being moved to that more restrictive tier. A county then has to be in that tier for a minimum of three weeks before it may move to a less restrictive tier.

San Diego County has been in the red tier for months, skirting but ultimately avoiding the purple tier, which would necessitate the closure of almost all indoor operations of nonessential businesses. Recent trends have shown a slow but steady increase in infection numbers. — City News Service

San Diego County Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

– 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020

WATCH LIVE: San Diego County Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

San Diego County Moves Toward Dreaded ‘Purple’ Tier Of COVID-19 System

– 1:13 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020

San Diego County took its first step into the dreaded "purple" tier of the state's four-tiered COVID-19 reopening plan Wednesday, leaving just one week to determine if the county will be forced to shutter nearly all of its nonessential indoor businesses.

State officials reported that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000. The adjusted case rate dropped to 7.4 per 100,000, above the baseline of 7 which makes up the floor for the purple, or most restrictive tier of the reopening plan. Last week's unadjusted case rate was 7.8 per 100,000.

In recent weeks, the region had an unadjusted rate well above the purple tier guidelines, but a significant effort to increase the volume of tests had allowed for an adjustment to bring it back to the red, or substantial, tier.

According to the reopening plan, a county has to report data exceeding a more restrictive tier's guidelines for two consecutive weeks before being moved to that more restrictive tier. A county then has to be in that tier for a minimum of three weeks before it may move up a rung to a less restrictive tier. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 293 New COVID-19 Cases, 10 Deaths

– 6:35 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 293 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths Tuesday, raising the region's case total to 57,702.

The 10 deaths occurred between Oct. 6 and Nov. 2, according to county health officials, bringing the region's death total to 901. The victims were six men and four women, whose ages ranged from late 40s to late 80s. All but one had underlying medical conditions, according to the county.

Of the 8,200 tests reported Tuesday, 4% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3%.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,968 -- or 6.9% -- have required hospitalization and 918 patients -- or 1.6% of all cases -- had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Five new community outbreaks were also confirmed Monday, two in business settings, two in restaurant/bar settings, and one in a health care setting. Over the previous seven days, 31 community outbreaks were confirmed. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

The county last week avoided returning to the state's purple tier -- the most restrictive -- and remains in the less restrictive red tier of the state's four-tiered coronavirus monitoring system. The usual Tuesday update on the state's four-tier reopening plan has been rescheduled to Wednesday this week due to the election, according to county officials. — City News Service

Escondido’s Mission Middle School Closes For 2 Weeks After 3 Cases Of COVID-19

– 6:45 p.m., Monday, Nov. 2, 2020

After three positive COVID-19 cases at Mission Middle School in Escondido, the district will suspend in-person learning for the next two weeks.

Escondido Unified made the announcement Monday. This follows Vista Unified’s decision to pivot three more schools to online learning after a coronavirus outbreak there.

In a statement posted to its website, Escondido Unified said county public health officials were aware of the positive cases but the county did not direct the district to close the school.

“This decision was made to ensure the stability of the educational program offered to our students, as well as to continue our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of our students and employees,” the district said in the statement.

On-campus instruction will resume Nov. 17, the district said. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS News

San Diego County Reports 307 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 2, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Monday reported 307 new COVID-19 cases, raising the region's case total to 57,409, while the death toll was unchanged at 891.

Of the 10,248 tests reported Monday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 2.9%.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,944 — or 6.9% — have required hospitalization and 914 patients — or 1.6% of all cases -- had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

No new community outbreaks were reported Monday; in the previous seven days, 28 community outbreaks were confirmed. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

The county last week avoided returning to the state's purple tier, the most restrictive, remaining in the less restrictive red tier of the state's four-tiered coronavirus monitoring system. The usual Tuesday update on the state's four-tier reopening plan has been rescheduled to Wednesday due to the election, according to county officials.

The county's adjusted case rate dropped to 6.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population. — City News Service

Three More Vista Schools Pivot To Virtual Learning Due To COVID-19

– 3:30 p.m., Nov. 2, 2020

The Vista Unified School District has shifted three more schools to online learning, after more COVID-19 cases were reported among students and staff. The change affects Vista High School, Madison Middle School and Roosevelt Middle School.

In an online update posted Friday, the district said 13 students and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 since in-person learning resumed on October 20. The district said all cases were contracted outside of the school environment.

In-person classes at these schools are expected to resume at Vista, Madison and Roosevelt schools on November 12. Another school, Mission Vista High School, was shifted to online learning on October 29 and is expected to return to online learning on Nov. 9. — KPBS Staff

SD County Reports 352 New COVID-19 Cases

– 4:52 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 352 new COVID-19 cases and no new fatalities, raising the region's total to 57,102 cases with deaths remaining at 891.

Of the 12,879 tests reported Saturday, 3% returned positive with 239 people hospitalized.

The county avoided the state's purple tier, the most restrictive, for yet another week on Tuesday, remaining in the less restrictive red tier of the state's four-tiered coronavirus monitoring system.

The county's adjusted case rate dropped to 6.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population. – City News Service

SD County Reports 381 New COVID-19 Cases And Three New Deaths

– 10:25 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 381 new COVID-19 cases and three new fatalities, raising the region's total to 56,750 cases and 891 deaths.

Of the 12,879 tests reported Saturday, 3% returned positive with 239 people hospitalized. No new community outbreaks were reported.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

The county avoided the state's purple tier, the most restrictive, for yet another week on Tuesday, remaining in the less restrictive "red" tier of the state's four- tiered coronavirus monitoring system.

The county's adjusted case rate dropped to 6.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population. – City News ServiceCounty Serves Cease-And-Desist Orders To Homes Near SDSU Planning Halloween Parties

– 4:50 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, 2020

San Diego County officials are getting serious about parties at San Diego State University. Friday afternoon they sent cease-and-desist orders to eight College Area residences, including some fraternities and sororities.

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said this action was necessary because the region's livelihood hangs in the balance, as we are on the brink of moving to a more restrictive tier.

"Know that our place on one tier or another is not based on the state's assessment, it is intrinsically tied to our personal and common efforts," she said. "The risk of contracting COVID-19 is increased when we come in contact with individuals outside our households. Every decision each of us makes should be guided by that knowledge."

SDSU students are still under a stay-at-home advisory for the Halloween weekend.

It started last Friday night and lasts through Monday morning. They are told to only go out for essential needs, like grocery shopping or voting.

More than 1,200 COVID-19 cases have been reported among SDSU students and staff. — Kim Swain, KPBS News

SD County Reports 471 New COVID-19 Cases As Officials Warn To Avoid Crowds

– 4:26 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 471 new COVID-19 cases and three additional coronavirus fatalities Friday, raising the region's total to 56,369 cases and 888 deaths.

One woman and two men died between Oct. 25 and Oct. 28. Their ages ranged from mid-30s to mid-80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 15,013 tests reported Friday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.7%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 11,336.

One new community outbreak was confirmed Friday in a restaurant. It brings the total in the past week to 33, above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Of all cases, 3,911 — or 6.9% — have required hospitalization. And 905 — or 1.6% — of all cases and 23.1% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 358 New COVID-19 Cases As Halloween Weekend Approaches

– 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 358 new COVID-19 cases and four additional coronavirus fatalities Thursday, raising the region's total to 55,898 cases and 885 deaths.

Three men and one woman died between Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. Their ages ranged from mid-30s to early 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 13,338 tests reported Thursday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.8%. The seven-day daily average of tests is 11,110.

A total of eight new community outbreaks were confirmed Thursday, four in businesses, two in grocery settings, one in a preschool and one in a restaurant. These bring the total in the past week to 37. — City News Service

County Announces Internet Funding For 19 School Districts, Charter Schools

– 4:23 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020

San Diego County officials Thursday announced 19 school districts and charter schools will see improved access to the internet thanks to $2 million in county funds intended to bridge a digital divide between students during distance-learning.

According to County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, 4,303 students stand to benefit from the funding and stronger connection to the Internet. The funds will go toward satellite and cable Internet, as well as wireless hotspots.

"We talk about our teens as digital natives, but that does not always extend to the tools necessary to be successful in an academic environment. One of the struggles spotlighted during COVID-19 has been student access to reliable Internet connectivity for distance learning," Fletcher said. "That is the reason I fought so hard during the county's budget deliberations to secure this money. Educating our youth is essential, even more so during a pandemic and I didn't want that to get lost." — City News Service

SD County Reports 330 New COVID-19 Cases, 4 Deaths As Numbers ‘Hold Steady’

– 5:17 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 330 new COVID-19 cases and four additional coronavirus fatalities Wednesday, raising the region's total to 55,540 cases and 881 deaths.

These statistics come a day after the county avoided the state's "purple" tier for yet another week, remaining in the less restrictive "red" tier of the state's four-tiered coronavirus monitoring system.

The county's adjusted case rate dropped to 6.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, which is far from ideal, but allows the county to maintain a semblance of normalcy.

"We're holding steady in San Diego County," said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher at a weekly meeting of county officials Wednesday.

He pointed to examples of places not holding steady throughout the country and globe, with exponential growth in case numbers causing significant backsliding and heavily taxing local health infrastructure. – City News Service

"We have to redouble our efforts," he said, referring to the approaching winter and flu season. "This has the potential to take off." – City News Service

La Mesa Police To Resume Parking Regulation Enforcement

– 1:38 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020

The La Mesa Police Department will resume parking regulation enforcement citywide starting the second week of November, officials announced Wednesday.

La Mesa suspended the issuing of parking tickets on March 17 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Monday, Nov. 9, La Mesa police will issue written citations for vehicles parked in violation of posted street sweeping routes, metered parking restrictions, curb time limits, commercial zones and 72-hour parking limits.

The city of San Diego temporarily suspended parking enforcement on March 16, limiting enforcement to holiday or Sunday regulations only. San Diego resumed parking regulation enforcement citywide on Oct. 15. – City News Service

San Diego Avoids Purple Tier Again As Coronavirus Numbers Improve Slightly

– 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

For yet another week, San Diego County avoided the fate of dropping into the dreaded purple tier of California's coronavirus monitoring system Tuesday, with an adjusted case rate of 6.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.

While the county's unadjusted case rate is 7.4 per 100,000 — enough to be in the most restrictive purple tier, which has a floor of 7 per 100,000 — the high volume of tests the county is able to perform daily allows for an adjustment from the state. This adjustment has saved the county from shutting down nearly all non-essential indoor businesses for several weeks in a row.

The state data, which is updated every Tuesday, reflect the previous week's cases to determine the fate of counties in the state's four-tiered reopening system

San Diego County did show modest improvement, dropping .4 from last week's unadjusted case rate of 7.8. The testing positivity rate continued an upward trend, rising .2% from last week to reach 3.5%, but remains low enough for this metric to remain in the orange tier. If a county reports statistics meeting metrics in a higher tier for two consecutive weeks, it will move into that more restrictive tier for a minimum of three weeks.

The state's health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions, dropped from 5.5% to 5.1% and entered the orange tier. This metric does not move counties backward to more restrictive tiers but is required to advance.

County health officials reported 269 new COVID-19 infections and seven deaths Tuesday, bringing the case total to 55,210 and the death toll to 877.

Five men and two women died between Oct. 22 and Oct. 25, with one death occurring July 19. Their ages ranged from early 60s to mid-80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 10,456 tests reported Tuesday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.7%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 11,173.

Two new community outbreaks were confirmed Tuesday, one in a day care and one in a business. In the past seven days, 24 community outbreaks were confirmed. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Of all cases, 3,875 — or 7% — have required hospitalization. And 898 — or 1.6% — of all cases and 23.2% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. —City News Service

Supervisors Call For More Local Control On COVID-19 Restrictions

– 1:50 p.m., Oct. 27, 2020

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution asking the state governor's office for more local control when it comes to further restrictions in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proposed by Supervisors Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar, the resolution was approved after board members received an update on the county's efforts on combating the virus.

According to the resolution, the county is requesting that "the state continues to regularly consult and incorporate the expertise and judgment of local health officers in the determinations for the most effective non- pharmaceutical interventions in local jurisdictions."

Further, "the state's reopening blueprint must account for hospital and medical system capacity and readiness to provide medical treatment by incorporating data into the analysis in some manner, such as case rate readjustment factor," the resolution states.

— City News Service

San Diego Unified Cautiously Looks To January For Expanding In-Person Learning

– 1:50 p.m., Oct. 27, 2020

Citing ballooning COVID-19 rates and multiple cases of the illness among students in other school districts, leaders of the San Diego Unified School District announced Tuesday they are cautiously looking to Jan. 4 for a major expansion of in-person learning — depending on the course of the pandemic.

Speaking Tuesday at Gage Elementary School, the SDUSD officials said safety measures put in place over the summer have so far prevented any documented cases of COVID-19 transmission on the campuses that have reopened on a limited basis.

"Safety has been our strategy from the start," said SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten. "The safety precautions put in place at schools like Gage and elsewhere appear to be working. So far, we have had zero documented outbreaks of COVID-19 and zero documented cases of transmission on campus, as determined by the County Office of Public Health. Exactly two weeks into Phase 1, we are encouraged."

— City News Service

San Diego County Reports 358 New COVID-19 Cases As It Awaits State Data

– 4:50 p.m., Oct. 26, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 358 new COVID-19 infections Monday, bringing the case total to 54,941, including a new case in the Vista Unified School District.

The county didn't record any deaths related to COVID-19 on Monday, and the death toll remains at 870. It will receive an update from the state Tuesday as to the county's reopening status.

Of the 7,827 tests reported Monday, 5% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 10,981.

One new community outbreak was confirmed Monday in a youth sports setting. In the past seven days, 27 community outbreaks were confirmed. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Of all cases, 3,859 — or 7% — have required hospitalization. And 892 — or 1.6% — of all cases and 23.1% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

Second Mission Vista High School COVID-19 Case Leads To 150 In Quarantine

– 2:00 p.m., Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

Less than a week after fully reopening its schools, the Vista Unified School District reported a second COVID-19 case involving a Mission Vista High School student, leading to the quarantine of about 150 students and four teachers.

According to the district, the second student tested positive for the illness on Sunday. That student attended school Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week and is not connected to the other case in a student confirmed last week, the district said.

"The parents notified us that the student likely contracted the virus while traveling on a club athletic team not affiliated with school," a district statement reads. "We immediately notified all parents, students and staff who may have come into contact with the student."

While it is unlikely the student came into close contact with all 150 students and four teachers, the district said it was "proceeding with an abundance of caution" and placing all of them on a 14-day quarantine and pivot to Zoom and Canvas distance-learning classes.

According to the district's COVID-19 safety dashboard, it has recorded five cases since Sept. 8, and just one since Oct. 20.

– City News Service

San Diego County Reports 269 New COVID-19 Cases, Two Additional Deaths

– 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

Health officials in San Diego County reported 269 new COVID-19 infections Sunday, bringing the total to 54,583 since mid-February, and two new deaths, bringing the overall fatality total to 870.

The two deaths were men reported to have died earlier this month. They ranged in age from late 60s to early 70s, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

Of the 10,819 new tests reported, 2% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 2.7%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 11,127.

Two new community outbreaks were confirmed, one in a health-care setting and the other in a restaurant. In the past seven days — Oct. 18 through Oct. 24 — 26 community outbreaks were confirmed.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Of all cases, 3,850 — or 7.1% — have required hospitalization. And 889 — or 1.6% — of all cases and 23.1% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 386 New COVID-19 Cases; No Additional Deaths

– 9:40 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

Health officials in San Diego County have reported 386 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total to 54,314 since mid-February, but no new deaths, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

The last new death was reported Thursday, which pushed the overall total to 868.

Of the 10,784 tests reported Saturday, 4% returned positive.

Five new community outbreaks were reported Friday. Twenty-five community outbreaks were reported between Oct. 17 and Oct. 23.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

San Diego State University announced Thursday that it had issued a stay-at-home advisory for all students. The advisory is set to begin at 6 p.m. and run through Monday, Nov. 2 at 6 a.m. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 430 COVID-19 Cases, One Death Friday

– 5:45 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

Public health officials in San Diego County reported 430 new COVID-19 infections and one more death Friday, raising the region's cumulative totals to 53,928 cases and 867 fatalities.

Of the 13,360 tests reported Friday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.7%, far below the state-set target of less than 8%.

Of the total COVID-19 cases in the county, 3,827 or 7.1% have been hospitalized, with 884 — or 1.6% — spending at least some time in an intensive care unit. The number of current COVID-19 hospital patients in the region is 236, with 73 of those in the ICU.

Five new community outbreaks were reported Friday. In the past seven days, 21 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

San Diego State University announced Thursday that it had issued a stay-at-home advisory for all students. The advisory is set to begin at 6 p.m. and run through Monday, Nov. 2 at 6 a.m.

University officials said the move was made to discourage students from participating in Halloween events where physical distancing cannot be done. Students are advised to stay home unless they had an essential need. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 235 COVID-19 Cases, Three More Deaths

– 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

Public health officials in San Diego County reported 235 new COVID-19 infections and three more deaths Thursday, raising the region's cumulative totals to 53,498 cases and 866 fatalities.

Two new community outbreaks were reported Thursday, one in a business setting and the other at a health care setting. In the past seven days, 17 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla announced Thursday all employees able to effectively work remotely will continue to do so through March 12, the end of its winter quarter.

"Empowering employees to continue to work from home whenever possible greatly reduces the population density on campus, which helps protect our students, student-facing employees and other essential staff working on site," said Nancy Resnick, UCSD's chief human resources officer. — City News Service

San Diego County Adds 380 New COVID-19 Cases, Death Toll Unchanged

– 5:17 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 263 new COVID-19 infections and six additional deaths Wednesday, raising the region's cumulative totals to 53,263 cases and 863 deaths.

The numbers came as officials reminded county residents the region is "too close for comfort" to the most-restrictive purple tier in the state's four-tier coronavirus monitoring system. On Tuesday, despite an unadjusted daily COVID-19 case rate of 7.8 per 100,000 population, the county was again able to avoid being pushed into the purple tier, which would have placed indoor activities at restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and a number of other locations in jeopardy.

The state adjusted the data for the week of Oct. 4-10 down to 7 per 100,000 — the highest it can be without heading into purple — due to the county's high rates of testing. The data are reported on a one-week delay.

"Yesterday we dodged a bullet. We could not have gotten any closer without tripping into the purple tier," County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. "But we don't want to live or die on the tiers by how many tests we've done."

Of the 10,449 tests reported Wednesday, 3% returned positive, keeping the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases at 2.8%, far below the state-set target of less than 8%. – City News ServiceHoliday Bowl Canceled Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

–6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

San Diego County Reports 263 COVID-19 Cases, Six Deaths

Theme Parks Still Not Able To Reopen In California

– 7:20 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

California will allow fans to attend outdoor professional sporting events in areas at less risk for the coronavirus even as it prohibits larger theme parks from reopening.

But Tuesday's announcement by the state’s top health official may have little immediate effect for sports fans. Some teams are done for the year and the home of football's 49ers won't immediately ease restrictions.

San Francisco meanwhile moved into the state’s least restrictive tier, the first urban area to join much geographically larger and far more rural areas scattered near the Oregon border or in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. — Associated Press

San Diego Avoids Slipping Into Purple Tier

– 5:25 p.m, Tuesday, Oct, 20, 2020

Despite an unadjusted daily COVID-19 case rate of 7.8 per 100,000 population, San Diego County was again able to avoid being pushed into the most restrictive purple tier of California's four-tier reopening system Tuesday.

High rates of testing helped the county stay in the red tier, county officials said. The positive adjustment is given by the state to counties that are testing at higher levels than the state's median. That adjustment prevented the county from data that would have landed it in purple, which would have placed indoor activities at restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and a number of other locations in jeopardy.

"Remaining in the red tier is good news, but the new adjusted rate is not. The new figure clearly shows the region is not moving in the right direction," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County public health officer. "It is extremely important San Diegans follow the local health guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep the region from falling into the purple tier."

The county's unadjusted case rate for the week of Oct. 4-10 rose from 7.2 to 7.8 cases per 100,000 residents. It was adjusted down to 7 per 100,000. The data are reported on a one-week delay. — City News Service

Vista Unified Schools Open As County Awaits State COVID-19 Statistics

3:30 p.m, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

The Vista Unified School District fully reopened its school Tuesday morning, becoming one of the first in the region to do so, even as San Diego County appears poised to slip back toward more restrictive COVID- 19 tiers as infections surge.

The district, which has 29 elementary, middle and high schools, eschewed the more cautious measures some other school districts are taking, moving into its "Phase 3" reopening plan. The plan, "Vista Classic" allows every school in the district to reopen at full capacity. Parents and guardians will still be able to keep students in "Vista Virtual," the district's distance-learning program, if they so choose.

The district said it will attempt to have social distancing as much as possible, but will allow as many as 38 students in a single classroom, so desks will not be spaced six feet apart.

A rally Thursday by teachers and parents at Foothill Oaks Elementary School attempted to dissuade the Vista Unified School Board from reopening Tuesday, with many educators believing the safety measures inadequate. — City News Service

– 4:24 p.m., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 380 new COVID-19 infections Monday, raising the region's total case count to 52,735 as the county awaits data from the state tomorrow which could forecast a tipping point toward closing some businesses again.

No new deaths were reported Monday, and the death toll remains at 853.

On Tuesday, the county will receive an update about its data from the California Department of Public Health and how it fits into the state's four-tier reopening plan. Rising case rates could tip San Diego County into the "purple" tier, the state's most restrictive.

Officials are imploring San Diegans to maintain vigilance as positive case rates for the coronavirus continue to increase in the region.

"We are now concerned about the trends and we are concerned about the likelihood we could tip back to purple," Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said on Twitter Sunday. The county is now in the red tier and the limit for the purple tier — the state's most restrictive tier — is 7.0 cases per 100,000 residents.

Fletcher pointed to positive unadjusted case rates over six days (Oct. 11-16): 6.9 out of 100,000 residents, to 7.2 to 7.3 to 7.4 to 7.7 and 7.8, respectively. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 373 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5:06 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Sunday reported 373 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths, bringing the county's totals to 52,355 and the death toll remaining at 853.

Officials are imploring San Diegans to maintain vigilance as positive case rates for the coronavirus continue to increase in the region.

"We are now concerned about the trends and we are concerned about the likelihood we could tip back to purple, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said on Twitter today. The county is now in the red tier and the limit for the next tier is seven cases per 100,000 residents.

Fletcher pointed to positive unadjusted case rates over six days (Oct. 11-16): 6.9 out of 100,000 residents, to 7.2 to 7.3 to 7.4 to 7.7 and 7.8.

The county will be in the red, or "substantial," tier for at least another two weeks.

But Fletcher and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten held an emergency meeting Friday to "sound the alarm" as the future case rate appears to cross into the purple tier of the state's four-tier reopening system.

With the state's monitoring system having a seven-day lag, the adjusted case rate of positive COVID-19 tests is 6.8 per 100,000 residents, up from 6.5 in the previous assessment. – City News Servce

San Diego County Reports 201 New COVID-19 Cases

– 4:01 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020

San Diego County public health officials are imploring San Diegans to maintain vigilance as positive case rates for the coronavirus continue to increase in the region, and as 201 new cases and three additional deaths were reported Saturday.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten held an emergency meeting Friday to "sound the alarm" as the future case rate appears to cross into the "purple" tier of the state's four-tier reopening system.

The county will be in the red, or substantial, tier for at least another two weeks.

With the state's monitoring system having a seven-day lag, the adjusted case rate of positive COVID-19 tests is 6.8 per 100,000 residents, up from 6.5 in the previous assessment. The limit for tier two is 7.0.

Nearly all non-essential indoor businesses would close under the purple tier. – City News Service

County Leaders ‘Sound The Alarm’ As COVID-19 Case Rates Climb

– 4:01 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

San Diego County public health officials implored San Diegans to maintain vigilance Friday as positive case rates for the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase in the region.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten held an emergency meeting to "sound the alarm" as the future case rate appears to cross into the "purple" tier of the state's four-tier reopening system. The county is currently in the red, or substantial, tier for at least another two weeks.

The state's monitoring system features a seven-day lag, both the adjusted and unadjusted case rate of COVID-19 tests returning positive for next week look to be above seven new daily cases per 100,000 population — the state's metric for the most restrictive purple tier.

The good news is that it will take two consecutive weeks with data in purple tier levels before the county is officially moved back to that step, so there may be a chance of reversing trends and avoiding that precipitous drop. Nearly all non-essential indoor businesses would close under the purple tier. — City News Service

Tribal Casinos Keep COVID-19 Details Private While Juggling Economics, Safety

– 3:54 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

As many businesses remained under orders to stay closed during the coronavirus pandemic, tribes in San Diego County bucked recommendations from outside leaders and reopened their casinos with measures designed to limit the spread of illness.

It’s unclear if the gamble paid off.

Public health officials have confirmed that more than 300 of the county’s residents who contracted COVID-19 reported visiting a casino shortly before testing positive.

But the county won’t disclose whether any community outbreaks occurred at local casinos because they’re on tribal lands. The tribal governments have released little information and aren’t subject to federal and state disclosure laws as sovereign entities.

That means local outbreaks potentially are being left out of a metric the county considers in reopening decisions. Already, San Diego fails to stay under the threshold for outbreaks set by public health officials.

The casinos began reopening in May with new cleaning, social distancing and face covering policies, but some of their employees have raised concerns. – Camille von Kaenel, inewsource and Jennifer Bowman, inewsource

San Diego Region Projected To Lose $12.4 Billion In 2020 Due To The Pandemic

– 3:53 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may cost the region's economy more than $12.4 billion in 2020, according to a report released Thursday from the San Diego Association of Governments.

According to the SANDAG report, which looks at the first six months following stay-at-home orders, $4.8 billion in wages were lost and more than 176,000 people in San Diego County lost their jobs. The report also found that a disproportionate impact of job losses landed on women, minorities, lower-income earners and younger employees.

Compared to March, the report found in July there were 23% fewer lower-income employees — those making less than $27,000 a year. A total of 80% of jobs lost came in the tourism, retail and education sectors.

Middle-income jobs — those earning between $27,000 and $60,000 — are down 8.5%, while high-income jobs — those earning more than $60,000 — are down just .8%. The report found that the immediate impact for low-income jobs was greater and it will likely take longer for those jobs to recover. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 143 COVID-19 Cases, 3 Deaths, 17 Community Outbreaks

– 5:15 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 143 new COVID-19 infections and three virus-related deaths, raising the cumulative caseload to 51,470 and the number of fatalities to 847, amid a rise in confirmed community outbreaks.

One woman and two men died between Oct. 2-14, and their ages ranged from early 70s to late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions, according to the county Health & Human Services Agency.

Of the 8,315 tests reported Thursday, 2% returned positive, keeping the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases at 3%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 10,100.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,720 — or 7.2% — have required hospitalization and 862 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. There are currently 233 COVID-19 positive patients in the region's hospitals; 72 of them in ICUs.

A total of 17 new community outbreaks were reported Thursday — 10 in business settings, three in restaurant/bar settings, two in faith-based agency settings, one in a food processing setting and one in a restaurant. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 303 New COVID-19 Cases, Four Deaths

– 4:46 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 303 new COVID-19 infections and four virus-related deaths Wednesday, raising the region's totals to 51,327 cases and 844 deaths.

This comes a day after state data confirmed the county will remain in the red, or substantial, tier of the state's four-tier COVID-19 reopening plan for at least another week.

County supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher said staying in red wasn't good enough. Cox said the red tier's restrictions still made it incredibly difficult for small businesses to stay open.

Fletcher agreed, saying the county needed to drive down positive tests and new case numbers.

"The overwhelming majority [of county residents] are doing everything right, but we need to see numbers go down," he said. "We need to get off this weekly cliff we stare down." – City News Service

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Workforce Barely ‘Inching Up’ As Cases Surge

– 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020

The United States has more than 50,000 contact tracers for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to a survey of states conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in collaboration with NPR.

The total number of contact tracers reported in all U.S. states and territories was 53,116. That's four times the number of contact tracers states reported to NPR in its initial survey in late April, but it falls far short of the more than 100,000 that public health experts have been calling for since the pandemic began seven months ago.

"I see us inching up in terms of increasing the contact tracing personnel, [though] still only really halfway to where we need to be," says Danielle Allen, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a co-author of a handbook of COVID-19 policy. This latest survey shows a nearly 30% increase from NPR's last survey in early August, which found 41,122 contact tracers across the country, but some of that increase is due to the fact that more states are now included.

Contact tracing staffing "feels stagnant," says Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She oversaw the survey in collaboration with NPR. "I don't see a lot of evidence that we have a new push or renewed interest in trying to prepare for what we might see this winter," she says, "and we're already seeing cases tick up across the U.S. and in Europe."– Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR

Jury Seated In First San Diego Criminal Trial Since Pandemic Began

– 6:35 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020

A jury was seated and opening statements were delivered Tuesday in the first criminal trial held in San Diego Superior Court since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 40 people reported for jury duty at the downtown San Diego courthouse Tuesday morning, a stark contrast from typical times, when the court can rely on a pool of around 400 prospective jurors to choose from.

The prospective panelists were escorted to a retro-fitted courtroom featuring plexiglass panels between each seat in the jury box, and panels cordoning off the attorneys, judge and court staff from one another. Jurors not seated in the jury box were spaced out throughout the courtroom.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Frederic Link thanked those who reported for the inaugural pandemic trial, assuring the group that "everything in this room has been sanitized this morning ...We're trying to take every precaution we can to make this safe for you."

A jury panel was seated by early afternoon in the trial of 61-year-old John Homer Scarborough, who is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse. The trial is expected to continue through at least the end of the week, and another trial is scheduled to begin next Monday at the downtown courthouse.

Since March, San Diego County courthouses have been largely closed to the general public, with most matters held remotely, in which neither defendants nor attorneys have appeared in person.

Trials have been on hold as the court system grappled with the obstacles involved with bringing members of the public into the courthouses for jury duty.

Following nearly six months without trials, jury summons were mailed out last month for the first time since the pandemic began.

With Scarborough's trial, San Diego County courts will begin chipping away at an ever-increasing trial backlog, with the trial possibly serving as a test case for restarting jury trials at the county's other courthouses in Chula Vista, El Cajon and Vista.

"As we safely and cautiously resume trials with a smaller potential juror pool, we will start by seating our first jury at the Central Courthouse before we expand to the other courthouses," Superior Court Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne said. "We know this will be an uphill battle to work through all of the pending jury trials and we will only be able to accomplish this with the support of jurors willing to fulfill this public service. It is more critical than ever that you report for jury duty if summoned."

While Scarborough's case is the first criminal trial in San Diego state court, the local federal courts have been holding a limited number of jury trials and other in-person proceedings. The San Diego Superior Court also brought one jury panel back into the courthouse this summer to render a verdict on a murder trial that was interrupted by the pandemic. — City News Service

SD County To Remain In Red Tier As 278 Cases, 14 Deaths Reported

– 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020

San Diego County will remain in the red, or substantial, tier of the state's four-tier COVID-19 reopening plan for at least another week, even as public health officials reported 278 new COVID-19 infections and 14 deaths from the illness.

According to the California Department of Public Health, San Diego County's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.8 daily infections per 100,000 residents, up from 6.5 the previous week. The unadjusted case rate was 7.2, up from 6.9 last Tuesday.

The adjusted rate is due to San Diego County's high volume of tests but still leaves the county on the precipice of the state's most restrictive tier — purple.

The testing positivity percentage is 3%, considerably less than last week, and that number would qualify for the third — or orange — tier.

To remain in the red tier, the county must continue to have an adjusted case rate of less than 7.0 per 100,000 residents and a testing positivity percentage of less than 5%.

The new cases and deaths reported Tuesday raised the total for the region to 51,024 cases and 840 deaths.

Eight women and six men died between Oct. 3 and Sunday. Their ages ranged from the early 50s to early 100s. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 10,078 tests reported Tuesday, 3% returned positive, keeping the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases at 2.9%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 10,608.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,702 — or 7.3% — have required hospitalization and 857 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Six new community outbreaks were reported Tuesday — three in restaurant/bar settings, two in private residences and one in a kindergarten through 12th-grade school. *— City News Service

SD County Reports 195 New COVID-19 Cases As It Awaits State Data

– 4:45 p.m., Monday, Oct. 12, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 195 new COVID-19 infections Monday, raising the total to 50,746 cases as the county awaits reopening data from the state Tuesday.

The number of deaths in the region from the illness remains at 826.

Of the 7,573 tests reported Monday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.9%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 10,424.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,692 — or 7.3% — have required hospitalization and 854 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

One new community outbreak was reported Monday in a restaurant/bar setting. In the past seven days, 46 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

The county remains in the second — or red — tier of the state's four-tier COVID-19 reopening plan. San Diego's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.5 per 100,000 residents, down from 6.7. The unadjusted case rate is 7.0, down from 7.2.

The testing positivity percentage is 3.5%, the same as last week, and it is in the third — or orange — tier. — City News Service

California Relaxes Rules To Allow Small Family Gatherings

– 3:50 p.m, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020

California is easing its coronavirus restrictions to allow multi-household gatherings outdoors.

Three households can socialize so long as they wear masks and follow other safety precautions designed to stem the spread of the virus. State health officials previously had discouraged gatherings outside of a single household.

The state set the limit of three households out of concern that people will be tempted to have even larger indoor activities with the approach of Halloween and other holidays during the colder months. G

ov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the rules recognize the increasing pressure for get-togethers among relatives and close friends. — Associated Press

SD County Reports 408 New COVID-19 Cases, Another Death

– 5:32 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 408 new COVID-19 infections and one more death from the illness, raising the county's totals to 50,551 cases and 826 fatalities.

The death of one man was noted Saturday. He was in his mid-40s and had an underlying medical condition.

Of the 9,875 tests reported Saturday, 4% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.9%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 10,281.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,681 — or 7.3% — have required hospitalization and 851 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Seven new community outbreaks were reported Saturday, one in a faith- based agency, one in a restaurant, one in a grocery setting, two in businesses and two in restaurant/bar settings.

In the past seven days, Oct. 4 through Oct. 10, 45 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days. – City News Service

SD County Reports 320 COVID-19 Cases, Raising Total To 50,143

– 4:17 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 320 new COVID-19 infections and four more deaths from the illness, raising the county's totals to 50,143 cases, a milestone for the region, and 825 fatalities.

Two women and two men died, and their ages ranged from early to late 60s. Three had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 11,371 tests reported Friday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 10,127.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,670 — or 7.3% — have required hospitalization and 849 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Four community outbreaks were reported Friday, two in businesses and two in restaurant/bar settings.

In the past seven days, Oct. 3 through Oct. 9, 38 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

The county remains in the second — or red — tier of the state's four- tier COVID-19 reopening plan. San Diego's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.5 per 100,000 residents, down from 6.7. The unadjusted case rate is 7.0, down from 7.2.

The testing positivity percentage is 3.5%, the same as last week, and it is in the third — or orange — tier. – City News Service

SDSU Hoops To Begin Mountain West Conference Schedule In December

– 6:15 p.m., Friday, Oct. 9, 2020

The Mountain West Conference will play an 18-game basketball schedule, starting in late December.

The season will begin on Dec. 29 and conclude March 6, according to a news released issued Friday.

Each team will play nine home games and make nine road trips, with individual schedules to be released later.

The conference tournament will be held March 10-13 in Las Vegas.

Utah State won last year's Mountain West tournament by defeating San Diego State in the title game, just before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA pushed back the start of the 2020-21 basketball season to Nov. 25 due to the pandemic. — Associated Press

SD County Reports 357 COVID-19 Cases, Likely To Cross 50,000 Total Saturday

– 5:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 9, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 357 new COVID-19 infections and two more deaths from the illness Friday, raising the county's totals to 49,823 cases of the coronavirus and 821 fatalities.

The number of cases will likely cross 50,000 on Saturday, a milestone for the region, which experienced its first case in February.

One woman and one man died, and their ages ranged from early 60s to late 90s. Both had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 13,829 tests reported Friday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 2.9%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,809.

In addition to the tests reported Friday, the county received a batch of 41,520 tests from labs covering several months, with positive cases previously reported and investigated.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,652 — or 7.3% — have required hospitalization and 848 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

A total of eight community outbreaks were reported Friday, five in businesses and three in restaurant/bar settings.

In the past seven days, 37 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days. — City News Service

SD County Reports 291 COVID-19 Cases, 6 Deaths, Record 19 Community Outbreaks

– 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 291 new COVID-19 infections and six deaths from the illness Thursday, raising the county's totals to 49,446 cases of the coronavirus and 819 deaths, while a new daily record for community outbreaks was set.

A total of 19 community outbreaks were reported Thursday, six in restaurant/bar settings, six in business settings, two in grocery settings, two in restaurants, one in a food processing setting, one in a residence and another in a hair salon/barbershop setting.

In the past seven days, 32 community outbreaks were confirmed, well above the trigger of seven or more in a week's time. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Four women and two men died between Sept. 4 and Oct. 7, and their ages ranged from late 40s to mid-70s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 10,915 tests reported Thursday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,150.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,646 — or 7.4% — have required hospitalization and 849 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

SD Reports 354 New COVID-19 Cases, 7 Deaths As County Adapts To New Metric

– 4:49 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 354 new COVID-19 infections and seven deaths from the illness Wednesday, raising the region's totals to 49,175 cases of the coronavirus and 813 deaths.

This comes a day after the state told the county it will remain in the second, or red, tier of the state's four-tier COVID-19 reopening plan for at least another week.

However, a new wrinkle in how the state looks at county data was announced Wednesday. A health equity metric will now be used to determine how quickly a county may advance through the reopening plan, San Diego Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

A community can only be as well as its unhealthiest quartile, she said, and while counties with a large disparity between the least- and most- sick members of a community will not be punished for the disparity by sliding back into more restrictive tiers, such a disparity will stop counties from advancing to less-restrictive tiers. – City News Service

San Diego County Remains In Red Tier As It Reports 161 COVID-19 Cases, 3 Deaths

– 4:14 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020

According to state data released Tuesday, San Diego County will remain in the second, or red, tier of the state's four-tier COVID- 19 reopening plan for at least another week.

The county's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.5 new daily infections per 100,000 people, down from last week's 6.7. The unadjusted case rate is down to 7 from last week's 7.2. Because San Diego County testing levels were above the state median testing volume, the county's adjustment level was decreased.

On the last two Tuesdays, the county narrowly avoided being pushed back into purple tier, the most strict in the state's reopening plan. The state- set threshold of case rate to avoid the purple tier is below 7 per 100,000.

To move into the less-restrictive orange tier, a county must have a rate below 3.9 per 100,000 people.

County public health officials reported 161 new COVID-19 infections and three deaths on Tuesday, raising the region's totals to 48,821 cases and 806 deaths. — City News Service

El Cajon Receives Another $1 Million In Federal COVID-19 Relief

– 3:50 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020

The city of El Cajon announced Tuesday that it has received another $1 million in federal COVID-19 relief to be used for private households impacted by the pandemic, supplementing nearly $3.5 million in federal, state and county relief already disbursed throughout the community.

The El Cajon City Council will explore possible uses for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding at its Oct. 13 meeting. According to a city statement, the main restriction on the funds is that they cannot be used for business assistance.

Since pandemic-related shutdowns in March, El Cajon started a $2.5 million business grant program that has supported 135 total businesses — 57 nonessential, 57 essential and 21 restaurants.

El Cajon has also given out $572,000 to support rental and utility programs which are being administered by three East County service providers: CSA San Diego County, Home Start and Interfaith Shelter. As of Aug. 31, 56 households in the city have been served, with more than $300,000 still available for vulnerable residents.

Additionally, $231,000 has been spent to attempt to alleviate homelessness with partnerships with East County Transitional Living Center shelter beds and Home Start emergency motel vouchers, with 250 people sheltered so far. Another $100,000 was distributed among six faith-based organizations to help feed those in need. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 224 New COVID-19 Cases As It Awaits State Data

– 6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Monday reported 224 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the cumulative number of cases to 48,660, but the death total remains unchanged at 803.

County officials are awaiting fresh data from the state Tuesday, a week after avoiding being pushed back into the most restrictive "purple" tier in the state's four-tier reopening plan. The county is the red tier for COVID-19 cases, with a state-adjusted case rate of 6.7 per 100,000 residents and a testing positivity percentage of 3.5%.

Of the 6,577 tests reported Monday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3%. The state-set target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,307.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,585 — or 7.4% — have required hospitalization and 832 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

California Governor Newsom Gives COVID-19 Update

– 12:55 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020

Gov. Newsom Makes Special Announcement, Provides Update On State's Response To Wildfires And COVID-19

SD County Reports 236 New COVID-19 Cases, Five Deaths

– 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020

San Diego County reported 236 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths Sunday, raising the county's totals to 48,436 cases and 803 fatalities.

Four of the 236 new cases are connected to San Diego State University and two previously reported confirmed cases are now associated with SDSU, bringing the total number of cases there to 1,127, according to public health officials.

Five men died between Sept. 6 and Sept. 21 and their ages ranged from mid-40s to mid-80s, officials said Sunday. All five had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 8,797 tests reported as of Saturday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3.1%. The state-set target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,226.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,575 — or 7.4% — have required hospitalization and 831 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

No new community outbreaks were confirmed Sunday. In the seven days from Sept. 27 through Oct. 3, 24 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

-CNS News Service

Regal Cinemas Reportedly Preparing to Close All U.S. Theaters

– 12:38 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020

Regal Cinemas might be closing all 543 of its theaters in the United States as early as this week due to continued revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and US cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached. Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can," the theater chain's parent company Cineworld tweeted on Sunday.

A report in Variety the previous day, which cited an unidentified source, said the company would be closing its theatres in the United States and the United Kingdom as early as this week.

Regal is the second-largest theater chain in the United States after AMC.

The chain has eight locations in San Diego County. Indoor movie theaters are currently permitted at reduced capacity in the county, and with other protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Variety's report came one day after it was announced that the release of the latest James Bond film, "No Time to Die," would be postponed until April 2021. Large chains such as Regal count on blockbusters like the Bond films to sustain operations.

-CNS News Service

14 New COVID-19 Cases At San Diego State

– 3:45 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020

San Diego State University reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the total number of cases at SDSU to 1,120.

The school is aware of 1,068 confirmed cases at SDSU and 52 probable cases, the university's Student Health Services reported Saturday.

"None of the COVID-19 cases have been connected with instructional or research spaces since fall instruction began," officials said, noting that the majority of the cases were "among students living off-campus in San Diego."

All cases are since Aug. 24, the first day of instruction for fall 2020.

Eight confirmed faculty and staff cases are from staff members associated with an SDSU auxiliary. Only faculty and staff cases that have had contact with either an SDSU campus or auxiliary are included in the case count.

The information is based on cases reported to Student Health Services by an individual or by a public health official. As more private labs are administering tests, a possibility exists that not all cases are being reported to Student Health Services. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 409 COVID-19 Cases, Four Deaths Saturday

– 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020

San Diego County reported 409 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths Saturday, raising the county's totals to 48,200 cases and 798 fatalities as the city of San Diego reopened its 289 playgrounds.

Three men and one woman died — between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2 — and their ages ranged from the early 60s to mid-80s, officials said Saturday. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 9,143 tests reported Friday, 4% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3.1%. The state-set target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,191.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,560 — or 7.4% — have required hospitalization and 830 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

SD County Reports 306 New COVID-19 Cases, 2 Deaths As Playgrounds Reopen

— 4:07 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 306 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths Friday, raising the county's totals to 47,791 cases and 794 fatalities as the city of San Diego plans to reopen its 289 playgrounds.

Two men died — one on Sept. 26, the other on Sept. 29 — one in his mid-50s, the other in his mid-80s. Both had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 9,216 tests reported Friday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3%. The state-set target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,301.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,554 — or 7.4% — have required hospitalization and 829 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Two new community outbreaks were confirmed on Oct. 1, one in a hair salon/barbershop setting, the other a hotel/resort/spa. In the past seven days - - Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 — 28 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Friday that the city would begin reopening its 289 outdoor playgrounds Saturday, joining the county's 100 playgrounds. Carlsbad opened playgrounds Friday morning. — City News Service

305 New COVID-19 Cases, 9 Deaths Reported In San Diego

– 4:15 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 305 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths, raising the county's totals to 47,485 cases and 792 fatalities.

Three women and six men died between Sept. 16 and Sept. 29 and their ages ranged from mid-50s to late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions. The underlying medical condition reported Sept. 29 of a 29-year-old woman who died from COVID-19 has been reclassified from "pending" to "no underlying medical conditions."

Of the 11,709 tests reported Thursday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3.1%. The state-set target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 9,086.

Of the total number of cases in the county, 3,545 — or 7.5% — have required hospitalization and 828 — or 1.7% of all cases — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Two new community outbreaks were confirmed on Sept. 30, one in a business and the other in a restaurant/bar. In the past seven days — Sept. 24 through Sept. 30 — 29 community outbreaks were confirmed. — City News Service

Mayor Faulconer Announces Some In-Person Library Services to Resume Saturday

– 2:26 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thursday a dozen San Diego Public Libraries would reopen for the first time since mid-March, when they were shuttered as part of a state-wide shutdown order.

"Our libraries offer San Diegans a treasure trove of resources, whether its access to health information, distance learning, job searching or even just a book to pass the time, and we need them now more than ever," Faulconer said. "We're reopening our libraries with health and safety as the top priority while also expanding digital access to give residents more opportunities as we get through this pandemic together."

The library locations to resume in-person services include Central, Carmel Valley, Point Loma, Mission Valley, Rancho Bernardo, Malcolm X/Valencia Park, Mira Mesa, Logan Heights, San Ysidro, La Jolla, Mission Hills-Hillcrest and College-Rolando.

The libraries will open at 25% capacity starting Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The facilities will close for cleaning from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. daily and frequently touched areas will be cleaned hourly and after each usage. Everyone will be required to wear face coverings, have their temperature taken and practice physical distancing when possible. — City News Service

Ten UCSD Students Test Positive For COVID-19

– 6:40 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020

Among the thousands of UC San Diego students moving into campus housing for the fall quarter, 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 and been moved into temporary isolation lodging, campus officials reported Wednesday.

In the same two-week round of coronavirus testing, more than 5,700 students came up negative, according to the La Jolla-area university.

The resulting infection rate of 0.17%, was "less than anticipated" and below San Diego's overall rate, UCSD officials advised.

During the process, UC San Diego's lab averaged 1,500 coronavirus tests daily for two weeks. Most test results were returned the next day, with an average turnaround of 15 hours, according to the university, which used a staggered move-in process to allow for physical distancing along with mandatory testing.

San Diego State University has reported 1,081 COVID-19 cases since Aug. 24, the first day of instruction for its fall semester. The totals include 1,036 confirmed cases and 45 probable ones. None have been connected to instructional or research spaces, according to SDSU administrators. — City News Service

SD County Reports 195 New COVID-19 Cases As Schools Look To Reopen

– 3:40 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 195 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths Wednesday, raising the county's totals to 47,180 cases and 783 fatalities.

The new cases come as county playgrounds reopened to the public Wednesday morning, and while county schools are not yet open for in-person learning, that appears poised to change in the near future.

Paul Gothold, San Diego County's superintendent of schools, said schedules for the county's many districts and charter schools have not been built yet, but they were coming.

To help deal with the incoming school populations, the county will run four testing sites for school staff only, with locations in Chula Vista and San Diego on Thursday, one in Del Mar on Friday and one in El Cajon on Monday.

The details and locations for these new free, drop-in testing sites were being finalized, Gothold said.

Additionally, the county has expanded its total testing sites to 41 locations, and school staff, including teachers, cafeteria workers, janitors and bus drivers, can be tested for free at any one of those sites. A rotating rural testing program with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was in the works for schools in the backcountry of the county. — City News Service

SDSU To Start Limited In-Person Classes Oct. 12

– 6:35 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020

San Diego State University (SDSU) will be starting a limited number of in-person classes effective Oct. 12, the school announced Tuesday.

In-person courses will be mostly upper-division or graduate level, and “cannot be fully carried out in the virtual space due to equipment use, off-campus research or clinical requirements, or because of accreditation or licensing requirements,” according to a statement emailed to the campus community.

Prior to the pause on in-person classes, 6,200 students were enrolled in an on-campus course. After Oct. 12, approximately 2,100 students will be taking an in-person course, according to SDSU.

A pause on in-person instruction was placed after SDSU saw steadily increasing COVID-19 cases since Aug. 24, the first day of instruction for the school’s fall semester. Its positive cases now total 1,080. On-campus learning was originally paused until Oct. 5, but SDSU extended it until Oct. 12.

SDSU reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 1,080 since Aug. 24. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

County Remains In Red Tier As 251 New Cases, 5 Deaths Reported

– 6:17 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 251 new COVID-19 infections and five additional deaths related to the illness Tuesday, raising the county's total to 46,985 cases and 781 deaths.

The new data comes as the county again avoided being pushed into the "purple" tier, the most restrictive in the state's four-tier reopening plan. The county will remain in the red tier for COVID-19 cases, with a state- adjusted case rate of 6.7 per 100,000 residents, county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten told the Board of Supervisors during their meeting Tuesday.

California officials announced changes to the monitoring system for counties on Tuesday. County public health officials said their unadjusted case rate was above 7.0, at 7.2. However, because testing levels were above the state median testing volume, the county's adjustment level was decreased. – City News Service

San Diego Will Start Enforcing Parking Regulations Again In October

– 4:27 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020

The city of San Diego will begin enforcing parking regulations again starting Oct. 1 with a two-week grace period before full enforcement Oct. 15, officials announced Tuesday.

The city temporarily suspended parking enforcement on March 16 following the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Multiple attempts in the following months to reinforce parking regulations have been thwarted by ongoing shutdown orders.

In developing a plan to restart parking enforcement, city staff consulted with several business groups representing communities across San Diego.

Starting Thursday, the city will issue written warnings for vehicles parked in violation of:

— Posted street sweeping routes;

— Metered parking restrictions;

— Curb time limits; and

— Commercial zones.

Citations will continue to be issued for vehicles parked illegally at red, white and blue painted curbs. Drivers are encouraged to follow posted signage when looking for a parking space. - City News Service

SD County Remains in Red Tier For COVID 19, Supervisors Told

– 12:30 p.m., Sept. 29, 2020

San Diego County will remain in the red tier for COVID-19 cases, with a state-adjusted case rate of 6.7 per 100,000 residents, the county's public health officer told the Board of Supervisors during their meeting Tuesday.

California officials announced changes to the monitoring system for counties on Tuesday. County public health officials said their unadjusted case rate was above 7.0, at 7.2. However, because testing levels were above the state median testing volume, the county's adjustment level was decreased.

While it's not possible to predict what the future holds for the state testing system, the county is exceeding testing numbers, Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

Nick Macchione, county Health & Human Services director, said that by next moth, testing capacity is on track to increase to roughly 30,000 tests a week.

Machionne said that along with facilitating the testing needs of schools, improved capacity will help the county stay above the state's testing median. The county also now has seven community-based organizations working to stop virus spread, Macchione said.

The county's testing positivity percentage is 3.8%.– City News Service

San Diego County Remains In Red Tier For COVID-19 Cases

– 11:33 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020

San Diego County will remain in the red tier for COVID-19 cases, with a state-adjusted case rate of 6.7 per 100,000 residents, it was just announced during the Board of Supervisors meeting. In related news, parks are slated to reopen this week, the chief administrative officer told the board. – City News Service

Outdoor Playgrounds In California Can Now Open

– 9:41 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020

All outdoor playgrounds across California can now reopen as of Tuesday, according to an announcement from the California Department of Public Health.

After being blocked from slides and swings for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kids can now use any outdoor playground regardless of what tier their county falls in.

But there are a few new rules:

– Everyone age two and up must wear a face mask

– Different households should keep 6 feet apart, and families should come back later if a playground is too crowded to make this social distancing possible

– Families should limit their visits to 30 minutes when others are present

– No eating or drinking

– Wash hands before and after

– Caregivers must supervise children to make sure they follow these rules

– Claire Trageser, KPBS Investigative Reporter

Global COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 1 Million Mark

– 6:15 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28, 2020

The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed 1 million.

The milestone, recorded by Johns Hopkins University, comes nine months into a crisis that has devastated the global economy, tested world leaders’ resolve, pitted science against politics and forced multitudes to change the way they live, learn and work.

The virus has also spread untold misery. One million is greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas. It is more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Even then, the toll is almost certainly a vast undercount because of inadequate or inconsistent testing and reporting. — Associated Press

124 New COVID-19 Cases Reported Monday

– 5:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28, 2020

San Diego County public health officials confirmed 124 new COVID-19 cases Monday, increasing the region's totals to 46,734 cases as the county awaits the state's data for reopening Tuesday.

The state will hold its weekly update Tuesday, with San Diego last week barely avoiding the dreaded "purple" tier. Under state monitoring metrics, San Diego County is currently in the second tier, or the red tier. The county's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is 6.9 per 100,000 residents. The testing positivity percentage is 3.8%.

No new deaths associated with the illness were reported Monday and the total fatalities remain at 776.

Of the 6,010 tests reported Monday, 2% returned positive, dropping the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3.3%. The state-set target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 8,431.

Chicano Federation Report Finds Barriers With COVID-19 Testing, Tracing — City News Service

– 3:09 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28, 2020

According to a report released by the Chicano Federation Monday, there are significant and systemic barriers preventing Latinos from receiving COVID-19 testing and participating in contact tracing efforts in San Diego County.

However, the report, "Perceptions of Contact Tracing Among San Diego Latinos," finds that Latinos in San Diego can and will participate in testing and contact tracing if the county's testing, tracing and treatment strategy — also known as T3 — is available in both Spanish and English, addresses privacy and financial concerns and removes isolation barriers.

The Chicano Federation — established in 1969 to provide neighborhood- based services to underserved youth, families and seniors across San Diego County — reported that the brunt of the coronavirus has fallen on Spanish- speaking Latinos and the county's response to help this community has been seriously lacking. – City News Service

SD County Reports 279 New COVID-19 Cases, One New Death

– 4:16 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020

San Diego County public health officials confirmed 279 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death Sunday, increasing the region's totals to 46,610 cases and 776 fatalities.

The one death was a woman in her late 70s who had an underlying medical condition.

One new community outbreak in a business was confirmed as of Saturday. From Sept. 20 to Sept. 26, 18 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

The county reported 8,550 tests as of Saturday and the percentage of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 3%.

The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 3.3%. The target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests was 8,483. – City News Service

SDSU Reports Another 25 Cases Of COVID-19

– 1:52 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020

San Diego State University reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 1,072 since Aug. 24, the first day of instruction for the fall semester.

The new totals reported by Student Health Services reflect numbers as of 6 p.m. Saturday.

Of the students living on campus, 385 have tested positive and students living off campus totaled 666 positive cases, health services said. A total of eight faculty or staff members have tested positive and 13 "visitors," people who have had exposure with an SDSU-affiliated individual, have tested positive.

The number of confirmed cases was 1,030, with 42 probable cases.

The information is based on cases reported to Student Health Services by an individual or by a public health official. As more private labs are administering tests, there is a possibility that not all cases are being reported to Student Health Services.

For privacy reasons, SDSU does not report names, affiliations or health conditions of students, faculty or staff who test positive for COVID-19 unless a public health agency advises that there is a health and public safety benefit to reporting such details. – City News Service

SD County Reports 330 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

– 3:53 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020

San Diego County public health officials confirmed 330 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, increasing the region's total to 46,331, but no new deaths, with that total remaining at 775.

Five new community outbreaks were confirmed as of Friday, three in business settings, one in a restaurant/bar and one in a government setting. From Sept. 19 to Sept. 25, 18 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

The county reported 9,914 tests as of Friday and the percentage of new laboratory-confirmed cases was 3%.

The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 3.3%. The target is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests is 8,561. – City News Service

Sixteen New COVID-19 Cases Reported at SDSU

– 3:04 p.m., Sept. 26, 2020

Sixteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported today by San Diego State University, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,064 since Aug. 24, the first day of instruction for the fall semester.

The new totals reported by Student Health Services reflect numbers as of 6 p.m. Friday.

Of the students living on campus, 380 have tested positive and students living off campus totaled 663 positive cases, health services said. A total of eight faculty or staff members have tested positive and 13 "visitors," people who have had exposure with an SDSU-affiliated individual, have tested positive.

The information is based on cases reported to Student Health Services by an individual or by a public health official. As more private labs are administering tests, there is a possibility that not all cases are being reported to Student Health Services.

For privacy reasons, SDSU does not report names, affiliations or health conditions of students, faculty or staff who test positive for COVID-19 unless a public health agency advises that there is a health and public safety benefit to reporting such details.

The university will also not disclose the specific location of the individual who was infected for privacy reasons and also because avoiding the physical location does not inherently lower a person's risk of infection. – City News Service

County Reports 405 New COVID-19 Cases Friday, Two Additional Deaths

– 5:50 p.m., Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Friday confirmed 405 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the region's total to 46,001 and two additional deaths, raising that total to 775.

A man in his mid-50s and another in his late 80s, both with underlying medical conditions, died of the coronavirus Wednesday, a county official said.

Nine of the 405 new cases, and one new probable case, are connected to San Diego State University, the official said. In addition, 17 previously reported cases are now being associated with SDSU.

The county narrowly avoided being dropped to the dreaded "purple" tier of COVID-19 reopening Tuesday, with 6.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population, just 0.1 away from the state's most restrictive tier. — City News Service

California Coronavirus Hospitalizations Could Surge In Next Month

– 4:45 p.m., Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

California has begun to see early but concerning upticks in coronavirus data after a period of decline.

California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Friday the increases include the case rate, hospital emergency department visits for COVID-19 and new hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases.

Ghaly says the trends appear largely attributable to the Labor Day holiday and could lead to an 89% increase in hospitalizations in the next month.

He noted the state is heading into another hot weekend which could increase people gathering with others. He urged renewed efforts to prevent spread. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 171 Cases Of COVID-19, Six Deaths, Seven Outbreaks

– 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 171 new COVID-19 infections and six additional deaths related to the illness, raising the region's totals to 45,596 cases and 773 deaths.

Three men and three women died between Sept. 17 and Sept. 22, and their ages ranged from mid-50s to early 90s.

Of the 13,609 tests reported Thursday, just 1% returned positive, lowering the 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases to 3.4%. The county has averaged 8,828 daily tests over the past week.

Of the total COVID-19 cases in the county, 3,460, or 7.6%, have been hospitalized with another 814, or 1.8%, spending some time in an intensive care unit.

San Diego State University reported 20 of Thursdays new cases were connected to the university, which now has 933 total confirmed or probable cases -- including four employees and 13 visitors to the campus.

A total of seven new community outbreaks were reported Thursday, raising the number in the past week to 15. Two of the community outbreaks were reported in restaurant settings, two in restaurant/bar settings, two in business settings and one in a faith-based setting.

According to county data, 61.5% of those hospitalized with the illness have been Hispanic or Latino, even as that ethnic group represents around 35% of the county's population. By comparison, 23.3% of those hospitalized have been white, 7.2% Asian and 5.8% Black. — City News Service

Mar Vista High COVID-19 Testing Site Reopens Sept. 24

– 5:51 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020

San Diego County’s COVID-19 testing site at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach is reopening Sept. 24. The site temporarily closed in order to provide resources to San Diego State University.

The drive-up testing site will be open, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and providing 500 free tests a day. No appointment necessary.

Including Mar Vista, there are six county COVID-19 testing sites that don’t require appointments. The other five are: Viasat Engineering Pavilion at California State University San Marcos, Electronics Recycling Center at University of San Diego, Tubman-Chavez Community Center and San Ysidro Port of Entry. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

San Diego County Reports 278 Cases Of COVID-19, Two More Deaths

– 3:45 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 278 new COVID-19 infections and two additional deaths related to the illness Wednesday, raising the region's totals to 45,425 cases and 767 deaths.

The county's total cases crossed the 45,000 mark Tuesday, and on Wednesday another milestone was reached when the total number of tests reported topped one million.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, thanked agencies and businesses contributing to testing numbers and said the county would maintain its priority testing for those showing symptoms of the illness.

"Our goal is to test the right people that need to be tested in San Diego County," she said.

With an average of 8,241 daily tests over the past week, the number of tests returning positive is 3.6% of the total over the last 14 days. The county narrowly avoiding being dropped to the dreaded "purple" tier of COVID- 19 reopening Tuesday, with 6.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population, just 0.1 away from the state's most restrictive tier.

San Diego County will remain in the red tier at least until next Tuesday, according to state officials.

Of the total COVID-19 cases in the county, 3,450 have been hospitalized with another 813 spending some time in an intensive care unit.San Diego County public health officials reported 278 new COVID-19 infections and two additional deaths related to the illness Wednesday, raising the region's totals to 45,425 cases and 767 deaths.

The county's total cases crossed the 45,000 mark Tuesday, and on Wednesday another milestone was reached when the total number of tests reported topped one million.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, thanked agencies and businesses contributing to testing numbers and said the county would maintain its priority testing for those showing symptoms of the illness.

"Our goal is to test the right people that need to be tested in San Diego County," she said.

With an average of 8,241 daily tests over the past week, the number of tests returning positive is 3.6% of the total over the last 14 days. The county narrowly avoiding being dropped to the dreaded "purple" tier of COVID- 19 reopening Tuesday, with 6.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population, just 0.1 away from the state's most restrictive tier.

San Diego County will remain in the red tier at least until next Tuesday, according to state officials.

Of the total COVID-19 cases in the county, 3,450 have been hospitalized with another 813 spending some time in an intensive care unit. — City News Service

San Diego County Remains In Red Tier

– 12 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020

Despite increasing coronavirus numbers, San Diego County will not yet regress into the most restrictive, or "purple" tier, of the state's economic-reopening guidelines, according to data released Tuesday.

State health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly noted, however, that the county is hovering on the brink of being moved out of the less-restrictive "red" category.

There were concerns the county could slip into the "purple tier," the state's most restrictive because of the outbreak at San Diego State University.

SDSU has reported 880 confirmed or probable cases, including two reports of faculty or staff who have tested positive.

Photo credit: State of California

The new color-coded coronavirus county-risk level announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 28, 2020.

The county Board of Supervisors met Monday and last Thursday nights to discuss its options, including legal action, after Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected a county effort Wednesday to discount the more than 800 positive tests recorded by SDSU since the semester began.

Had the county slipped back to the purple tier of the state's coronavirus reopening roadmap, it would likely have to shutter indoor operations for restaurants, movie theaters, houses of worship and gyms, limit retail businesses to just 25% capacity and have major impacts on indoor business for most other industries until the county can improve its numbers. — City News Service

SD County Reports 348 New COVID-19 Cases As it Waits For State Data

– 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 348 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths Monday, raising the region's total cases to 44,925 with the death toll remaining at 760.

The county awaits data from the state Tuesday which could potentially place San Diego in the "purple tier," the state's most restrictive.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors met in closed session Monday to discuss potential action should the state data indicate the county will be placed in the purple tier, including legal action.

Supervisor Jim Desmond said Monday's meeting yielded no action from the board.

"We will continue to work with the state to make sure the metrics accurately reflect the underlying dynamics of the pandemic," he said.

If the state data announced Tuesday shows the county has an average daily new case rate of seven per 100,000 population or higher, it will likely be moved into the purple tier.

Of the 6,374 tests reported on Monday, 5% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3.7%.

The seven-day daily average of tests is 8,440.

Of the total positive cases reported as of Sunday, 3,418 — or 7.6% — required hospitalization and 801 — or 1.8% — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

One new community outbreak in a restaurant was confirmed Monday. From Sept. 14-20, 22 community outbreaks were confirmed.

The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households over the past 14 days. — City News Service

Faster, Streamlined Access to Unemployment Benefits Is Two Weeks Away, Newsom Says

– 3:35 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom reassured Californians that a faster, streamlined process to file for unemployment is on the way, acknowledging that the Employment Development Department's (EDD) out-of-date technology and infrastructure have contributed to a massive backlog of claims.

The EDD released a report on Saturday announcing it would dedicate the next two weeks to an agency-wide reset to make it easier for eligible Californians to apply for and receive unemployment benefits. The department will pause accepting new claims until Oct. 5.

Newsom said that significant delays in processing claims are not a problem unique to California, and outdated technology is in no small part responsible for the trouble. “As a nation, we have a huge IT problem,” he said.

The agency plans to launch a system called ID.me to automatically verify the identity of a claimant. The hope is the changes will make it easier for newcomers to file claims, mitigate fraud and help the department work through a backlog of some 1.6 million cases.

Meanwhile, Newsom said California’s COVID-19 numbers continue to drop. The current seven-day average positivity rate has fallen to 2.8% even as the state continues to expand testing. The number of tests performed dropped significantly during the heat waves, smoke and fires earlier in September, but they have since rebounded.

Newsom expects to see the number of tests increase as the state works towards building out a testing lab and reaching the goal of delivering test results in 24 to 48 hours. California has also seen a fourteen-day average 23% drop in hospitalizations and a 25% drop in ICU admissions. — Nina Sparling /KQED

COVID-19 Outbreak At SDSU Pushes San Diego To Brink Of Another Shutdown

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21, 2020

A coronavirus outbreak at a college has pushed one of California's largest counties to the brink of more business shutdowns.

It's a dizzying and discouraging turn of events for San Diego County and its 3.3 million residents.

Less than a month ago, San Diego was the only county in Southern California to advance to a second tier in the state’s four-tiered reopening template for counties. But more than 800 cases at San Diego State University changed the outlook.

On Tuesday, the state will update the state's reopening situation and it's expected San Diego will fall back to the most restrictive tier. Among other things, that means restaurants couldn't offer indoor dining. — Associated Press

SD County Reports 265 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

SD County Reports 284 New COVID-19 Cases As It Considers Suing State

– 2:47 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 284 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths Sunday, raising the region's totals to 44,577 cases with the death toll remaining at 760.

Of the 9,097 tests reported through Saturday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3.6% — potentially a good sign as San Diego County appears poised to regress into the state's most restrictive public health tier due to increasing COVID-19 numbers, a decision that could be made Tuesday, when state data is released.

The seven-day daily average of tests is 8,375.

Of the total positive cases reported as of Sunday, 3,404 — or 7.6% — required hospitalization and 800 — or 1.8% — had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

One new community outbreak in a grocery business was confirmed this weekend. From Sept. 13-19, 21 community outbreaks were confirmed. – City News Service

SD County Reports 286 New COVID-19 Cases As It Considers Suing State

– 9:12 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 286 new COVID-19 infections and three deaths tied to the illness, raising the region's totals to 44,293 cases and 760 deaths as the county considers taking legal action against the state should reopenings for some still-closed businesses be rolled back this week.

The three additional deaths occurred from Sept. 12 to Sept. 16 and ranged in age from 47 to 77. Two of the three people who died had underlying health conditions, but the 47-year-old, a man from East County, had no underlying health problems.

Of the 9,263 tests reported Saturday, 3% returned positive, bringing the rolling 14-day average of positive tests to 3.8% — potentially a good sign as San Diego County appears poised to regress into the state's most restrictive public health tier due to increasing COVID-19 numbers, a decision that could be made Tuesday, when state data is released. – City News Service

Some San Diego Schools May Be Affected By Return To Purple Tier

– 4:17 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020

Schools that haven't resumed in-person instruction will not be allowed to do so if San Diego moves to a more restrictive tier due to rising coronavirus cases, state officials said.

The state's Department of Public Health said late Thursday that K-12 schools can reopen in a county once it has been moved out of the most restrictive purple tier — which signals widespread virus transmission — for two weeks.

But if schools haven't resumed in-class instruction and the county returns to the most restrictive tier, they can't do so, the agency said in an email.

That could happen in San Diego, which has seen a recent rise in coronavirus cases tied to San Diego State University. The infections could push California's second-most-populous county to the most restrictive tier when the state's color-coded system for business reopenings is updated next week. – Joe Hong, KPBS Education Reporter, Associated Press

San Diego County Considers Suing State Over Possible Slide Back Into Purple Tier

– 5:15 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 388 new COVID-19 infections and three deaths tied to the illness Friday, raising the region's totals to 44,007 cases and 757 deaths as the county considers taking legal action against the state should reopenings for some still-closed businesses be rolled back next week.

Of the 10,235 tests reported Friday, 4% returned positive, bringing the rolling 14-day average of positive tests to 4% -- potentially a good sign as San Diego County appears poised to regress into the state's most restrictive public health tier due to increasing COVID-19 numbers by Tuesday, when state data is released.

On Thursday night, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors met in a closed session to discuss taking legal action against the state to prevent that slide back into that most restrictive tier after Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected a county effort Wednesday to discount the more than 700 positive tests recorded by San Diego State University since the semester began.

The county will find out Tuesday if it will slip back to the "purple" tier of the state's coronavirus reopening roadmap. If so, it would likely shutter indoor operations for restaurants, houses of worship and gyms, limit retail businesses to just 25% capacity and have major impacts on indoor business for most other industries until the county can improve its numbers.

Ultimately the supervisors did not make a decision on taking legal action against the state in their meeting Thursday, but Supervisor Greg Cox said the board will meet in closed-session Monday after receiving more information, "to consider any further actions." — City News Service

San Diego Leaders Ask Gov. Newsom To Approve Convention Center Reopenings

– 3:38 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Councilman Chris Cate sent a letter Friday to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking him to approve safe reopening guidelines for convention centers across the state, which were ordered closed in mid-March along with other large venues such as amusement parks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Diego Convention Center has been home to more than 1,000 San Diegans experiencing homelessness since April 1, but has otherwise been closed to events which would normally fill the venue.

In Fiscal Year 2019, the convention center hosted 143 events and 836,695 attendees, accounting for 822,528 hotel room nights, $755.3 million in direct attendee spending and $29 million in hotel and sales tax revenue, for an overall regional impact of $1.3 billion, according to Faulconer and Cate. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 174 New COVID-19 Cases, Six Deaths

– 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 174 new COVID-19 infections and six deaths tied to the illness Thursday, raising the region's totals to 43,619 cases and 754 deaths as the county waits to see if it will have to roll back business openings next week.

Of the 9,495 tests reported Thursday, just 2% returned positive — potentially a good sign as San Diego County appears poised to regress into the state's most restrictive public health tier due to increasing COVID-19 numbers by Tuesday, when state data is released. However, as the data runs on a seven- day lag, it may be too little, too late to prevent moving to a more restrictive tier with Gov. Gavin Newsom rejecting a county effort Wednesday to discount the more than 700 positive tests recorded by San Diego State University since the semester began.

The county will find out Tuesday if it will slip back to the "purple" tier of the state's coronavirus reopening roadmap. If so, it would likely shutter indoor operations for restaurants, houses of worship and gyms, limit retail businesses to just 25% capacity and have major impacts on indoor business for most other industries until the county can improve its numbers.

Should the county be placed in that tier, it would have to wait a minimum of three weeks before moving back to less restrictive tiers. — City News Service

San Diego Community College District Announces Online Classes Through 2021

– 3:00 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

The San Diego Community College District announced Thursday it will continue online instruction through the remainder of the academic year, including the January 2021 intersession and Spring 2021 semester.

SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll emailed district employees Wednesday informing them of the decision. With exceptions for a few programs that are difficult to offer virtually, all district classes have been online and all operations conducted remotely since March 23 to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Hybrid exceptions include various science and clinical laboratory sections, career classes with technical components and classes for first responders, which are offered on campus with all health protocols required. Carroll said more hybrid classes and on campus support services will be offered in the spring if the situation allows, but that the district's highest priority is the health and safety of its students and employees.

"It seems incredible that we are now in our sixth month of dealing with the coronavirus COVID-19," Carroll said. "I do not believe anyone could have predicted the longevity of this crisis."– City News Service

Average Rents In College-Adjacent Areas Drop Significantly During COVID-19

– 2:46 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

A report released Thursday by real estate company Zillow found that as more college students stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of rents in neighborhoods surrounding the colleges has decreased.

According to Zillow, markets across the county are already relatively soft due to the pandemic, with just 2.6% increase in rents over a year ago, but ZIP codes typically home to many college students are actually showing a decrease in rents of .5%.

In the 92122 ZIP code, near UC San Diego — which has a 27.3% share of college students in normal years — rents were rising 4.8% year over year in February. Now, they're falling 5.1%. They've dropped $84 a month in that time.

Data from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Davidson College shows 44% of U.S. colleges and universities are mostly offering classes online this fall, a big hit to rental demand in college areas, with two million more college-age Americans living with their parents in August than a year earlier.

According to Zillow's data, the reduced demand in this largely remote higher-education environment is having a noticeable impact on rents in ZIP codes in which at least 20% of the population is college students, who make up about 8% of the U.S. rental market in a typical year. – City News Service

Unemployment Drops To Lowest Rate Since Early April, SANDAG Report Finds

– 2:43 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

The estimated unemployment rate in San Diego County fell to 13.3%, nearly 12 points lower than the region's peak in May, a report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments found.

Unemployment has slowly declined from the high of 25% the week of May 9, with a noticeable spike from 15.1% to 17.4% in early July due in part to the closure of indoor businesses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since that second spike, the unemployment rate bounced between 15% and 16% before dropping below 14% in the latter part of August and early weeks of September.

While the region has recovered somewhat from those closure orders, the 13.3% figure SANDAG reported Thursday is still 2.5 points higher than at the height of the Great Recession in 2009-10.

"The new statewide guidelines make it challenging for many businesses to resume full operations," said SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major. "This has resulted in continued high levels of unemployed workers and dramatic declines in economic activity and consumer spending for the foreseeable future." – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 264 New COVID-19 Cases, 6 Deaths

– 5:05 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 264 new COVID-19 infections and six deaths from the illness Wednesday, raising the region's totals to 43,445 cases and 784 deaths.

Of the 8,644 tests reported Wednesday, 3% returned positive, moving the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.4%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,838.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,349 — or 7.7% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 787 — or 1.8% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported five new community outbreaks on Tuesday. In the previous seven days, 17 community outbreaks were confirmed. Two of the new outbreaks were in businesses, and one each in a residence, grocery store and faith-based setting. – City News Service

Governor Won’t Exclude SDSU COVID-19 Cases From County Figures

– 5:05 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020

California officials said Wednesday the state would not consider removing college students' virus cases from a county's data because they are part of the broader community and can contribute to the spread of the illness.

“You can't isolate as if it's on an island, a campus community that is part of a larger community,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. He spoke hours before Greg Cox, chairman of the San Diego County board of supervisors, wrote the governor asking that he seriously consider excluding San Diego State University from the county's count.

The issue arose as San Diego County — the state's second-most populous — has seen hundreds of cases among college students that have helped drive up infections.

San Diego State University has reported more than 700 cases, prompting the university to move classes online and, on Tuesday, mandate testing for students living on campus. – Associated Press

County In Danger Of More COVID-19 Restrictions

– 4:55 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020

The clock is now ticking for San Diego County, as new COVID-19 data released Tuesday contains one of the two metrics the state monitors now flagged as "widespread," which could lead to business restrictions and closures if it continues for another week.

San Diego County's state-calculated, unadjusted case rate is 7.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population. The testing positivity percentage is 4.5%. Should the county have a case rate higher than 7.0 next week, it could be moved into the purple tier, and more state-imposed restrictions could be implemented on recently opened businesses. Many nonessential indoor business operations could be shuttered.

The county is currently in the red tier, along with Orange, San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. Most of the rest of Southern California is in the purple tier. The state system has four tiers and assesses counties weekly, with reports scheduled each Tuesday.

County public health officials reported 294 new COVID-19 infections and nine new fatalities Tuesday, bringing the region's total caseload to 43,181 and total deaths to 742.

Six men and three women died between Sept. 7 and Sept. 14, and their ages ranged from early 50s to mid-90s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 5,969 tests reported Tuesday, 5% returned positive, moving the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.4%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,254.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,335 — or 7.7% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 784 — or 1.8% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported four new community outbreaks on Tuesday. In the previous seven days, 15 community outbreaks were confirmed. Two of the new outbreaks were in restaurant/bar settings, one was in a business and one in a grocery setting. The number of community outbreaks remains above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases originating in the same setting and impacting people of different households in the past 14 days. — City News Service

San Diego State Requires Testing Of All Student Dorming On-Campus

– 4:15 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020

San Diego State University announced Tuesday it is ramping up its COVID-19 testing protocols through a new random surveillance testing program which requires all students living on campus to be tested for the virus.

The program will begin Wednesday, with around 500 students being tested every day through Saturday, then starting again Monday. All students living in SDSU residence halls and apartments will be assigned testing slots at either the Student Health Services Calpulli Center, or the HHSA testing location at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. Students will be notified of their assigned testing window, along with instructions on what to do, through their SDSU email address.

Off-campus students are encouraged to get tested, as well. All students continue to have access to testing at Student Health Services and at both San Diego County and Imperial County locations. Faculty and staff continue to have access to county testing site locations, including the location at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. —City News Service

San Diego County Reports 208 New COVID-19 Cases, No Deaths

– 4:03 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 208 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths Monday, bringing the region's total caseload to 42,887, while the number of deaths related to the illness remained at 734.

Of the 5,921 tests reported Monday, 4% returned positive, moving the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.2%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,076.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,306 — or 7.7% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 781 — or 1.8% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

On Monday, county health officials reported no new community outbreaks. In the past seven days, 14 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks remains above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases originating in the same setting and impacting people of different households in the past 14 days.

Under the new state monitoring metrics, San Diego County is currently in Tier 2, also called the Red Tier. San Diego's state-calculated unadjusted case rate was 6.9 per 100,000 residents and the testing positivity percentage was 4.2%. – City News Service

Scripps Health Forms Vaccine Committee For Future COVID-19 Treatment

– 12:21 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14, 2020

Scripps Health announced today it has established a COVID-19 Vaccine Committee to recommend which coronavirus vaccine or vaccines to consider offering for patients, employees and physicians.

The team of Scripps' medical, pharmaceutical and vaccine experts will begin meeting this week. They will review and analyze the leading COVID-19 vaccines from an evidence-based perspective.

"It's our responsibility as a health care provider to be the voice of science and truth," said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder.

"There is a strong potential for public opinion to differ on which COVID-19 vaccine is best, with some people lacking faith in any of them. Our goal, through this committee, is to provide recommendations on a vaccine or vaccines based on an objective review of the available medical data and clinical information."

Researchers worldwide are testing 48 COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 93 pre-clinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals. Nine COVID-19 vaccines are in Phase 3 large-scale efficacy testing. According to Scripps, expectations are that the Food and Drug Administration could approve a vaccine by the end of the year. – City News Service

Supervisor Fletcher To Preview $2.5 Million In Coronavirus Business Grants

– 11:21 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14, 2020

Supervisor Fletcher To Preview $2.5 Million In Grants

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher will visit Grandma Tofu Korean BBQ in the Kearny Mesa area, one of the business that could receive grant money if approved by the Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting.

Contact says Fletcher will tour the business and discuss the importance of funding businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. – City News Service

– 4:53 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 265 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths, bringing the county's totals to 42,679 cases and 734 fatalities.

Of the 8,281 tests reported Saturday, 3% returned positive, moving the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.4%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,200.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,296 — or 7.7% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 781 — or 1.8% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

San Diego State University reported 29 new student cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 621 since the fall semester began Aug. 24. – City News Service

SDSU Reports 23 New Student Cases Of COVID-19

– 2:39 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020

San Diego State University reported 23 new student cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 621 since the fall semester began Aug. 24.

University officials said they were aware of 617 confirmed cases among students and four probable cases.

The university has not received any reports of faculty or staff who have tested positive since fall instruction began, SDSU health officials said.

The majority of the 621 cases are students living off-campus in San Diego. About 75% of students testing positive live in off-campus housing not managed by the university, with 73% of the cases among the freshman and sophomore classes, officials said. – City News Service

SD County Reports 445 New COVID-19 Cases, 32 At San Diego State

– 5:26 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 445 new COVID-19 infections and four deaths from the illness, raising the county's total to 42,414 cases and 734 deaths.

Two women and two men died between Sept. 7 and Sept. 10 and their ages ranged from the mid-50s to late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 8,531 tests reported Friday, 5% returned positive, moving the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.5%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,627.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,278 — or 7.7% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 777 — or 1.8% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported no new community outbreaks on Friday, lowering the number of outbreaks in the past week to 13.

The number of community outbreaks remains above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.

Of Friday's cases, another 32 were tied to San Diego State University, raising the total number of confirmed infected students on- and off- campus to 598 since the fall semester began Aug. 24. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 361 New COVID-19 Cases, 53 At San Diego State

– 5:35 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 361 new COVID-19 infections and five deaths Friday from the illness, raising the county's total to 41,969 cases and 730 deaths.

Two women and three men died between Sept. 2 and Sept. 9 and their ages ranged from early 60s to late 80s.

Of the 9,208 tests reported Thursday, 4% returned positive, moving the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.4%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,472.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,266 — or 7.8% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 775 — or 1.8% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported no new community outbreaks on Thursday, lowering the number of outbreaks in the past week to 17. – City News Service

County, Mexican Consulate Partner To Push Latino COVID-19 Testing Strategy

– 2:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020

A comprehensive outreach strategy to expand testing access for Latino residents and other communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic was announced Friday by local leaders.

The new program will kick off on Monday, with a new testing site at the Mexican Consulate in downtown San Diego at 1549 India St. Starting at 8 a.m., walk-up appointments will be available until 3:30 p.m., according to the announcement from San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego and other local leaders.

"We are prioritizing our response to health inequities in the Latino community by prioritizing efforts to help address accessibility barriers that are contributing to Latinos being disproportionately impacted by this pandemic," Fletcher said. "Whether you live in the south, north or east of our county, you should have access to testing and resources to prevent and treat the spread of COVID-19."

The consulate will be the first of several locations in a 14-day rotation. Two other confirmed sites include San Luis Rey Church in Oceanside and St. Anthony of Padua in National City. Dates, times and additional locations will be announced as soon as they are finalized.

According to the group, by working with partners like the consulate, Catholic Diocese of San Diego, the Chicano Federation and others, this testing initiative will enhance San Diego County's regional effort to expand coronavirus testing and outreach in the Latino community. — City News Servicce

SD County Reports 284 New COVID-19 Cases, 69 At San Diego State

– 5:42 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 284 new COVID-19 infections and four deaths from the illness, raising the county's total to 41,608 cases and 725 deaths.

Three women and a man died between Aug. 31 and Sept. 6 and their ages ranged from early 60s to late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 8,311 tests reported Thursday, 3% returned positive, decreasing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.4%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,236.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,253 — or 7.8% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 775 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. – City News Service

Our Lady of Peace Moves To All-Online Classes After 2 Students Contract COVID-19

– 3 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020

Just nine days after reopening its campus for in- person classes, Academy of Our Lady of Peace in North Park Thursday moved all its students to online-only courses after two students tested positive for COVID- 19.

Schools were allowed to reopen on Sept. 1, but as San Diego County's rate of infection appears to be on the rise again, Our Lady of Peace is unlikely to be the only school to face consequences of in-person learning. The school sent a letter to parents Wednesday evening placing the blame on the children at the all-girls Catholic school.

"We recognize that despite our best efforts the girls are struggling with maintaining the rules of physical distancing both on and off campus," it read. "Effective immediately, we are implementing a pause in our face-to-face learning model and moving to virtual distance learning (while maintaining the same class schedule). This will allow time for the community to separate, practice physical distancing and reflect on the importance and privilege of our time together on the OLP campus."

The two confirmed student cases are unrelated, the school said. Students at the school will switch from online education to a hybrid model on Sept. 17, with students attending class two days a week in two separate cohorts separated by last name alphabetically. — City News Service

San Diego Reports 12 New COVID-19 Deaths Wednesday

– 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Wednesday reported 247 new COVID-19 infections and 12 additional fatalities, raising the region's totals to 41,324 cases and 721 deaths from the coronavirus.

Of the 4,556 tests reported Wednesday, 5% returned positive, increasing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 4.5%, still well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,339.

Meanwhile, San Diego State University reported another 44 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases within the on- and off-campus student population. About 75% of students testing positive live in off-campus housing not managed by the university, with 73% of the cases among the freshman and sophomore classes.

The latest cases bring the university's total confirmed caseload to 440 since the fall semester began Aug. 24. There are also four probably cases currently undergoing a second round of testing.

The university announced over the weekend it has extended its stay-at-home order for students amid rising COVID-19 cases within the student population. The order directing students to stay in their current residences, except for essential needs, was originally set to expire at 6 a.m. Tuesday but will remain in effect through 9 a.m. Monday. Violations of the order may result in disciplinary consequences, the college said. — City News Service

Newsom Gives Tax Credit For Small Businesses Affected By Pandemic

– 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020

With millions of people out of work in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed a law giving tax breaks to small businesses that hire more workers over the next three months.

The law will offer businesses of 100 employees or less a credit of $1,000 on their state tax bills for each new employee hired by Dec. 1. It only applies to businesses that have lost at least half of their revenue from April to June this year compared to the same time period last year.

The credit is capped at $100 million statewide, or $100,000 for each business. Businesses get the credit only if they hire employees, not contractors. Small businesses that are owned by large companies are not eligible.

Newsom called it “one of the most significant tax credits in our state's history" because of the provisions that restrict the benefits to small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

“So often these open-ended tax credits go to a handful of well-resourced companies, not necessarily those small businesses that need them the most,” Newsom said.

California's economy has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic as the Newsom administration ordered many businesses to close for months to slow the spread of the disease. Californian lost 2.4 million jobs in April, more than all the jobs lost during the Great Recession a decade ago. The state has added back nearly a third of those jobs since then, but the unemployment rate is still 13.3% — higher than it ever got during the Great Recession. — Associated Press

State Data Shows San Diego County Regressing In Fight Against COVID-19

– 5:52 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020

State data released Tuesday shows San Diego County is regressing in its fight against COVID-19, with the number of new cases per 100,000 people reaching 6.9 and the percentage of positive tests at 4.2%, perilously close to slipping into the "widespread" tier like much of the rest of the state.

The county is in Tier 2 or the "substantial" tier, the state's second most strict. With a slight bump in new cases per 100,000, San Diego could find itself closing recently opened businesses.

The numbers for the widespread tier — which every other Southern California county besides Orange County finds itself in — are 7 or more new cases per 100,000 and more than 8% positive testing. Just one of those above guidelines could be enough to push a county up a tier.

California releases its county data on Tuesdays.

San Diego County public health officials reported 211 new COVID-19 infections and two additional deaths Tuesday, raising the cumulative totals for the region to 41,077 cases and 709 deaths.

– City News Service

City Council Approves 80-Hour Mandated Sick Leave For Large Employers In City

– 5:06 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020

The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to require temporary supplemental paid sick leave for full-time San Diego staffers of companies that employ more than 500 workers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councilman Chris Ward said the ordinance is a stop-gap measure between now and Sept. 30, the last day Gov. Gavin Newsom has to sign or veto bills before they become law. A pair of bills, one from the Assembly and one from the Senate, on the governor's desk would make the San Diego ordinance moot.

Both the local ordinance and the two state bills were drafted in response to the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which went into effect April 1. The federal measure mandates certain employers provide their employees with paid sick leave when they are unable to work or telework for COVID-19 related reasons, but applies only to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, leaving out big companies around the country.

The local ordinance, which passed on a 7-2 vote, applies to large employers, of which San Diego has 147 within its borders. It mandates that those employers must provide 80 sick leave hours for COVID-19-related reasons. – City News Service

SDSU Extends Stay-At-Home Order Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

– 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020

San Diego State University announced it has extended its stay-at-home order for students through next Monday amid rising COVID-19 cases within the student population.

The order asking students to stay in their current residences, except for essential needs, was originally set to expire at 6 a.m. Tuesday, but will remain in effect through 9 a.m. Monday.

Violations of the order may result in disciplinary consequences, the college said.

The university reported another 63 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases Monday within the on- and off-campus student population.

The latest cases raise the university's total caseload to 286 since fall semester began Aug. 24.

On Friday, San Diego County public health officials confirmed multiple clusters of COVID-19 cases within the university community among students. This includes the previously announced off-campus outbreak on Wednesday. – City News Service

SD County Reports 308 New COVID-19 Cases, Three New Deaths

– 5:08 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 308 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths Sunday, raising the county's cumulative totals to 40,650 cases and 707 fatalities.

Two women and one man died between July 29 and Aug. 31. Their ages ranged from the mid-50s to mid-90s. Two of the three had underlying medical conditions.

San Diego County's state-calculated case rate is 5.8 and the testing positivity percentage is 3.8%.

Of 4,271 tests reported as of Saturday, 7% returned positive, raising the county's 14-day rolling positive testing rate to 4.3%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,946.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,214 — or 7.9% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 772 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported two new community outbreaks as of Saturday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 20. One of the outbreaks was at a residence and one at a business. – City News Service

San Diego County Passes 40k COVID-19 Cases, 704 Deaths

– 8:29 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 443 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths from the illness, raising the county's cumulative tally to 40,342 cases and 704 fatalities.

Two women and a man died between July 29 and Sept 3. Their ages ranged from early 70s to early 80s. All three had underlying medical conditions.

San Diego County's state-calculated case rate is 5.8 and the testing positivity percentage is 3.8%.

Of 7,445 tests reported Friday, 6% returned positive, raising the county's 14-day rolling positive testing rate to 4.2%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,102.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,199 — or 7.9% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 768 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. – City News Service

San Diego State University Reports 120 More Students With COVID-19

– 4:44 p.m., Friday, Sept. 4, 2020

an Diego State University reported another 120 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases among its student population Friday, raising the university's total caseload to 184 since fall semester began Aug. 24.

Additionally, San Diego County public health officials confirmed multiple clusters of COVID-19 cases within the university community among students. This includes the previously announced off-campus outbreak on Wednesday. SDSU officials say none of the cases under investigation are related to on-campus educational activities, including classes or labs.

Luke Wood, SDSU's vice president for student affairs and campus diversity, said the university was working with a security company to enforce public health code violations and had issued a total of 457 student violations through Friday afternoon. Wood said the most serious of these violations could result in suspension or expulsion from the university. Some organizations have been cited as well. Wood said the majority of these were fraternities or sororities, but followed up that not all were, and outbreaks impact the community at large regardless of the type of group they occurred in.

All of the university's in-person classes — which SDSU President Adela de la Torre said comprised just 7% of all courses — were moved online Wednesday. SDSU also paused all on-campus athletics training and workouts for two weeks starting Thursday due to COVID-19. – City News Service

2 New Coronavirus Community Outbreaks Reported Thursday

– 3:45 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Thursday reported 325 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths from the illness, raising the county's cumulative totals to 39,446 cases and 700 deaths.

Five men died between Aug. 1 and 31, and their ages ranged from mid-40s to early 90s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of 9,031 tests reported Thursday, 4% returned positive, maintaining the county's 14-day rolling positive testing rate at 3.8%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,190.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,169 — or 8% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 767 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported two new community outbreaks Thursday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 17. The outbreaks were in a business and a restaurant/bar setting.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days. — City News Service

Carlsbad Suspends Fees For Outdoor Permits During COVID-19 Pandemic

– 12:20 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020

The city of Carlsbad announced Thursday it was temporarily suspending its collection fees for sidewalk cafes, outdoor displays and curbside cafe permits to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This suspension of permit fees also means reimbursement of around $8,000 to businesses that paid for these types of permits since March 1 of this year. Fee reimbursement and the revenue offset from the suspension of fee collection will be funded from the Economic Recovery and Revitalization Initiative funds. Of those funds, $175,000 remains for contingency or future city council actions.

When the pandemic's public health orders required the closure of indoor operations, Carlsbad relaxed development standards to allow businesses to use these permits to quickly activate outdoor spaces on public sidewalks. Some businesses were also granted no-cost permits allowing them to use private property such as their parking lots, to add to their existing outdoor areas. – City News Service

Three New COVID-19 Community Outbreaks Reported In San Diego

– 4:15 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020

Of 7,606 tests reported Wednesday, 3% returned positive, bringing the county's 14-day rolling positive testing rate to 3.8%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,648.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,142 — or 8% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 760 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported three new community outbreaks Wednesday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 18. Two of the outbreaks were in restaurant/bar settings and the third was in a private residence.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher cautioned residents to take the illness seriously over the coming holiday weekend, and to avoid house parties and other large gatherings.

"One of the most dangerous setting is an indoor setting," he said. "The actions we take moving forward will impact our trajectory going forward." — City News Service

UC San Diego Joins Second National Clinical Trial For COVID-19

– 1:47 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020

UC San Diego Health announced today it will join a second, national clinical trial to develop a vaccine designed to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, by the end of the year.

Like the Moderna clinical trial, which launched in late July, the Phase III national AstraZeneca study will recruit up to 30,000 participants at multiple sites across the country.

The trial arm at UC San Diego will involve an estimated 1,600 participants, with particular outreach intended for underserved communities, and has a scheduled Sept. 8 start date.

UCSD researchers are collaborating with El Centro Regional Medical Center in the Imperial Valley, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic, to create a sub-site of the trial. – City News Service

San Diego Symphony Cancels Rest Of 2020 Schedule, Looks To 2021

– 4:51 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020

The San Diego Symphony canceled the remainder of its 2020 season Tuesday as COVID-19-related closures drag on, with some performances canceled through May 2021.

All Jacobs Masterworks concerts at Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center have been canceled through Dec. 31. In addition, all special concerts and all concerts in the Broadway at the Jacobs, Jazz at the Jacobs, Fox Film and Family concert series have been canceled through May 2021.

As a result of the cancellations and to simplify the ticketing process, the company will automatically move any 2020/21 subscription into the 2021/22 season. Symphony staff plans to share details of the 2021/22 season programming in April 2021.

"While our venues — Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center, and The Shell — remain closed, we continue to connect with our audiences and each other through a variety of digital programs and the sharing of socially distanced performances by our musicians on social media," a statement on the symphony's social media read. – City News Service

San Diego Superior Court Summoning Jurors Again, Trial Slated For Next Month

– 4:11 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020

Following about six months without jury trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Superior Court announced Tuesday that it has begun summoning jurors again in anticipation of trials resuming next month.

Jury duty summons were mailed out this week calling for prospective panelists to appear at the downtown San Diego courthouse beginning Oct. 9.

While one murder trial interrupted by the pandemic was completed while San Diego County courthouses were closed to the general public, a criminal trial slated to begin Oct. 13 will be the first to commence following the court closures.

Most other court proceedings have been conducted via video- conferencing during the pandemic, but the courts have grappled with the logistical and safety issues involved with inviting large numbers of people into the courthouses to report for jury duty, leading to a burgeoning backlog of criminal trials since the courthouses were shuttered mid-March. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 267 New Coronavirus Cases, 6 Deaths Tuesday

– 3:45 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020

County health officials on Tuesday reported 267 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths Tuesday, raising the region's totals to 38,871 cases and 688 deaths.

Four women and two men died, and their ages ranged from the late 40s to the late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of 6,986 tests reported Tuesday, 4% returned positive, raising the county's 14-day rolling positive testing rate to 3.7%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,751.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,125 — or 8% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 755 — or 1.9% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported one new community outbreak Tuesday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 16. The outbreak was in a restaurant/bar setting. — City News Service

County Reports 304 New COVID-19 Cases Monday

– 4:35 p.m., Monday, Aug. 31, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 304 new COVID-19 cases Monday, raising the county's cumulative cases to 38,604 while multiple industries reopened some indoor operations under new state guidelines.

No new deaths were reported, keeping the county's deaths tied to the illness at 682. Of 5,731 tests reported Monday, 5% returned positive, raising the county's 14-day rolling positive testing rate to 3.7%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,543.

Businesses including movie theaters, gyms, museums and hair and nail salons resumed indoor operations Monday, with modifications, under newly issued state guidance. Restaurants, places of worship and movie theaters are only allowed up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums are also required not to exceed 25% occupancy.

The county will put in place Monday night a new policy that restaurant patrons sitting indoors must wear masks at all times, except when actively eating or drinking. Outdoor patrons may still remove masks while not consuming food or beverages.

Gyms, dance studios, yoga studios and fitness centers may operate with 10% occupancy. Hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, piercing shops, skin care and cosmetology services and nail salons may operate indoors with normal capacity, however, a new policy states they must keep an appointment book with names and contact information for customers to track potential future outbreaks.

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox thanked San Diegans for working hard to bring the case rate down but offered a word of measured caution on Monday.

"This is not a green light, this is a yellow light," he said. "We can't gun the engine of the economy full throttle yet." — City News Service

Photo caption:

Photo by Matthew Bowler

A sign leading onto San Diego State University campus on Aug. 25, 2020, warning of restricted access because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

13 San Diego State Students Test Positive For COVID-19

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 31, 2020

San Diego State University reported another 13 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 Monday, a week after school begins.

Those 13 students, some of whom live in campus housing, join seven other students who tested positive for the illness last week. None of the students have attended any in-person classes.

An SDSU statement said the university had taken direct action with the students who live in university-owned housing.

"Three of the cases live on-campus at Zapotec, Villa Alvarado Apartments and South Campus Plaza North," the statement said. "Two on-campus students have been moved to a designated isolation room, per SDSU's Office of Housing Administration COVID-19 protocol. The other student was already isolating away from campus, prior to seeking testing this weekend. All are recovering well."

A total of 31 SDSU students have contracted COVID-19 since March. — City News Service

San Diego Mayor Delays Parking Enforcement Again To October

– 12:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 31, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Monday he has directed city staff to delay full enforcement of parking regulations until Oct. 1, to provide more support for residents impacted by COVID-19.

Parking enforcement has been limited to holiday or Sunday regulations in San Diego since March 16. During that time, the city has suspended citations for vehicles violating street sweeping parking restrictions, metered parking, time limits and yellow commercial zones. Citations have continued to be issued for vehicles parked illegally at red, white and blue painted curbs.

Previously, restrictions had been scheduled to return on July 1, Aug. 1 and Sept. 1, but the ongoing pandemic has prompted a delay each time.

According to Faulconer's office, before March the city processed an average of 42,000 parking citations per month. In April, the city issued 1,704 parking citations for violations of the holiday or Sunday regulations. — City News Service

San Diego Businesses May Reopen Indoors Operations Monday

– 11:30 a.m., Monday, Aug. 31, 2020

Starting Monday, businesses including movie theaters, gyms, museums and hair and nail salons can resume indoor operations, with modifications, under newly issued state guidance related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Restaurants, places of worship and movie theaters can reopen indoor operations Monday, but are only allowed up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums are also required not to exceed 25% occupancy.

Gyms, dance studios, yoga studios and fitness centers may operate with 10% occupancy. Hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, piercing shops, skin care and cosmetology services and nail salons may operate indoors with normal capacity.

But when it comes to retail businesses, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said the county would follow state guidelines that they're to be restricted to 50% occupancy.

All indoor businesses must still abide by social distancing- and face- covering mandates, as well as having a detailed safe reopening plan on file with the county.

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a new state system Friday that sorts counties into one of four tiers based on the extent of the area's COVID-19 outbreak.

Wooten said San Diego County had made it to "tier 2," the only county in Southern California to earn that designation. The county still has a "substantial" COVID-19 presence, but unlike Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles and Imperial counties it is not considered "widespread."

The two metrics the state was monitoring in that tier list include an old one — the percentage of positive tests — and a new one — the number of daily new cases per 100,000 people. San Diego County is at 3.7% and 5.8 per 100,000 respectively. To make it to the next tier, the county must show rates of between 2% and 4.9% positive tests and between 1 and 3.9 new daily cases per 100,000 population.

Because the county currently exceeds one of those numbers, it cannot start its path to the next tier. — City News Service

263 New COVID-19 Cases, 3 Deaths Reported In San Diego Saturday

– 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020

On Saturday, the county reported 263 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths, raising the region's totals to 38,047 cases and 679 deaths.

Two women in their mid-80s and one man in his early 80s died. All three had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 6,796 tests reported, 4% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 3.7%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,978.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,083 — or 8.1% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 749 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported six new community outbreaks Friday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 20. The outbreaks were in a food processing setting and five in business settings.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days. — City News Service

S.D. County To Allow Some Indoor Businesses To Open Monday

– 4:40 p.m., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020

Hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom released a new system for the state that sorts counties into one of four tiers based on the extent of the area's COVID-19 outbreak, San Diego County officials announced some local businesses would be able to operate indoors in a limited capacity starting Monday.

On Aug. 31, restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters and museums will be allowed to maintain up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. Gyms may operate with 10% occupancy. Hair salons, barbershops and nail salons may operate indoors with normal capacity. The impact to retail spaces currently open for indoor operations is unclear, although Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, alluded that they might be restricted to 50% occupancy.

All indoor businesses must still abide by social distancing and face covering mandates, as well as having a detailed safe reopening plan on file with the county.

Wooten said San Diego County had made it to "tier 2," the only county in Southern California to earn that designation. The county still has a "substantial" COVID-19 presence, but unlike Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles and Imperial counties it is not considered "widespread." – City News Service

Newsom Unveils New, More Gradual Reopening Process

– 12:45 p.m, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday a new process for reopening businesses that is slower and more gradual than what the state tried earlier this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The new rules create a four-tier, color-coded system that counties will move through based on their number of cases and percentage of positive tests. It will rely on two metrics to determine which tier a county is in: case rates and the percentage of positive tests.

The new process will put more power with the state instead of the counties.

Photo credit: State of California

The new color-coded coronavirus county-risk level announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 28, 2020.

The new rules come nearly two months after Newsom shut down bars, restaurants for indoor dining and a slew of other businesses following a surge in cases after the state’s first reopening attempt.

Under the new process, counties will have to meet certain metrics for three weeks before they can reopen certain businesses. Newsom didn’t immediately say which businesses will be included in which color tier or what the reopening will look like.

The state will now report virus statistics, such as case numbers, on a weekly basis.

The new approach is aimed at ensuring the state’s cases don’t skyrocket when businesses begin to reopen. — Associated Press

SD County Reports 277 New COVID-19 Cases, Five Deaths

– 3:45 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 277 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths from the illness Thursday, raising the region's totals to 37,499 cases and 673 deaths.

Three women and two men died between July 28 and Aug. 26, and their ages ranged from their early 40s to their early 90s.

Of the 5,235 tests reported Thursday, 5% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3.7%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 6,946.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,040 — or 8.1% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 738 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The case rate for the county remained under the state's 100 cases per 100,000 population, at 80.6 per 100,000, which means that schools are still on track to be able to open as soon as Sept. 1.

County health officials reported three new community outbreaks on Thursday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 20. Two outbreaks were reported in businesses, the third in a restaurant.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days. — City News Service

SD County Reports 228 New COVID-19 Cases, Three Deaths

— 4:48 p.m., Aug. 26, 2020

As San Diego County inches closer toward allowing schools to reopen, county officials announced Wednesday that they would expand free testing for school staff throughout the region.

Even as the county reported 228 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths Wednesday, a case rate continuing to remain under the state's 100 cases per 100,000 population (it was 80.2 per 100,000 on Wednesday) means that schools will be able to open in the county be as soon as Sept. 1.

According to County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, testing for school staff — teachers, paraprofessionals and others — will be made available for free at all of the county's 20 testing sites. Additionally, Fletcher said more will open by the end of September to increase testing accessibility.

The county still does not advise that asymptomatic children get tested, but Fletcher said parents can seek guidance through primary care physicians or seek testing through Rady Children's Hospital, Tri-Care or Kaiser Permanente — depending on what health insurance, if any, a family has.

Paul Gothold, the county's office of education superintendent, thanked county officials Wednesday for passing a $6.55 billion budget the previous day that contained many COVID-19 and education-related line items, including $2 million to make sure students from low-income families have access to the internet for distance learning during the school year.

"This has been an incredibly difficult time," he said. "We miss our students, our teachers and our classified staff."

The county's office of education oversees 42 school districts, more than 80,000 staff members and has at least partial oversight of hundreds of private and charter schools.

Some districts, such as San Diego Unified, have stated that they will have much stricter guidelines before in-person learning will begin again.

The new case data increased the total cases in the county to 37,222, and 668 deaths. A total of 8,327 tests were reported Wednesday, with 2.7% returning positive — lowing the 14-day rolling average to 3.6%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,607.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,022 — or 8.1% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 738 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

California Signs Deal To More Than Double Testing Capacity

– 2:28 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020

California has signed a contract worth up to $1.4 billion with a company to provide a significantly cheaper coronavirus test that will allow the state to eventually more than double the number of people tested to 250,000 per day, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

Gov. Newsom Provide Update On State's Response To Wildfires And COVID-19

California now averages about 100,000 tests per day, with the state paying $100 per test and results taking between five and seven business days. Newsom said the state's contract with Massachusetts-based PerkinElmer will increase the state's testing capacity to a quarter-million per day with each test costing about $31. Results would come within two days.

The contract will initially cost the state $100 million, with a maximum amount of $1.4 billion, according to the Newsom administration. The goal is to begin processing tens of thousands of new tests by November and reach at full capacity by March. – Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 267 New COVID-19 Cases, Five More Deaths

– 4:11 p.m., Tuesday, August 25, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 267 new COVID-19 infections and five additional deaths Tuesday, increasing the regional totals to 36,994 cases and 665 deaths — but were still awaiting guidance from the state toward a reopening framework for businesses.

Tuesday's data revealed that three women and two men died, ranging in age from mid-60s to early 90s.

Of the 5,534 tests reported Tuesday, 5% returned positive, raising the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3.6%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,386.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 3,006 — or 8.1% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 736 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported one new community outbreak on Tuesday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 21. The outbreak was reported in a health care setting.

– City News Service

With School Online, Blood Bank Asks For Donations To Make Up Lost Blood Drives

– 1:50 p.m., Tuesday, August 25, 2020

With schools and colleges moving online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Blood Bank put out a call to the public Tuesday asking for more blood donations as campus blood drives are canceled or put on hiatus.

According to the blood bank, it is working with schools on creative avenues to support blood donation, such as community drives. However, high school and college blood drives would normally start this week — meaning the loss of hundreds of pints of blood. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 187 New COVID-19 Cases. No New Deaths

– 3:56 p.m., Monday, August 24, 2020

Even as the COVID-19 numbers continue to improve in San Diego County, with 187 new infections and no deaths reported Monday, local officials said there remains no guidance from the state as far as a framework toward reopening the county — leaving many people in limbo.

"We still have not yet received clarity," said County Supervisor Greg Cox. "We do not yet know when we will get these guidelines."

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county was hoping to hear from the state this week.

The cases reported Monday raised the region's cumulative total caseload to 36,727. The number of deaths remains unchanged at 660. The 187 positive cases is the fewest reported in the county since Aug. 10, and the second-fewest in the past month.

Of the 7,351 tests reported Monday, 3% returned positive, lowering the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to 3.5%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day average number of tests performed in the county is 7,394.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,989 — or 8.1% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 733 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. Currently, 275 people are in regional hospitals with COVID-19, 103 of whom are in intensive care – City News Service

SeaWorld San Diego to Reopen With Limited Capacity ‘Zoo Days’ Event

— 1:00 p.m., Monday, Aug. 24, 2020

SeaWorld San Diego, which has been closed to the public for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, will reopen on a limited- capacity basis for a several-weekend program called "Zoo Days Bayside BBQ & Brews," it was announced Monday.

SeaWorld described the program — which will run Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Aug. 28 through Sept. 27, plus Labor Day — as an opportunity to explore 40 acres of the park while enjoying barbecue foods, craft beer and wine.

Reservations are required, and guests must adhere to public health protocols such as face coverings, physical distancing and temperature screenings.

– City News Service

Governor Newsom gives update on state's response to wildfires, COVID-19

— 12:00 p.m., Monday, Aug. 24, 2020

Even as hundreds of wildfires continue to rage across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday reported a modest downward trend in confirmed statewide COVID-19 cases.

As of Aug. 24, California's seven-day average for coronavirus cases was just under 6,000, with a 6.5% positivity rate.

The governor did note that the testing numbers were slightly down, but said 11 state coronavirus testing sites have been impacted by the wildfires, which is likely affecting those numbers.

Newsom said officials are trying to curb any further evacuation-related outbreaks of the virus by conducting health screenings in shelters, installing air purifiers and requiring shelter occupants to wear masks and practice social distancing.

But, he added, most people won't be staying in those shelters for long.

"The majority of people that have been evacuated are no longer being evacuated into those congregate shelters, they're being evacuated to hotels," Newsom said, noting that nearly 1,500 evacuees have been placed into 31 hotels.

Addressing the kind of masks people should wear to fight both COVID-19 and wildfire smoke, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state has sent surgical masks to evacuation centers and is also working on acquiring and sending out N95s.

Newsom added that people should consult their doctors about the best type of masks for their specific medical needs.

— Michelle Wiley/KQED

Governor Newsom Gives Update On State's Response To Wildfires, COVID-19

San Diego City Parks Open To Fitness Businesses, Places Of Worship

— 11:00 a.m., Monday, Aug. 24, 2020

Starting Monday gyms, fitness businesses and places of worship will be allowed to operate in San Diego city parks.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the executive order Tuesday. City Councilman Chris Cate proposed the idea in mid-July, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a similar ordinance for county parks on Aug. 5.

The directive defers park permit fees for 60 days. Faulconer will bring an ordinance to the council once it is back in session in September that would make the waiving of fees permanent.

San Diego County public health officials reported 337 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, but no new deaths. The region's totals are now 36,540 cases and 660 deaths.

The county was officially removed from the state's monitoring list Tuesday, setting in motion a 14-day countdown that could see K-12 students back in the classroom as soon as Sept. 1, depending on the decisions of individual school districts.

Currently, 27 schools — mostly private religious schools — have been approved for in-person learning by the county.

San Diego County Reports 291 COVID-19 Cases And Eight Deaths

— 3:21 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020

As San Diego County awaits guidance on the effects of its removal from the state's coronavirus watchlist, public health officials reported 291 new COVID-19 cases and eight additional deaths Saturday, raising the region's totals to 36,203 cases and 660 deaths.

Four women and four men died, officials said Saturday. Their ages ranged from mid-40s to mid-90s. All had underlying medical conditions.

The county was officially removed from the state's monitoring list Tuesday, setting in motion a 14-day countdown that could see K-12 students back in the classroom as soon as Sept. 1, depending on the decisions of individual school districts.

However, 27 schools — mostly private, religious schools — have been approved for in-person learning by the county.

The schools include Calvary Christian Academy, Francis Parker School, Chabad Hebrew Academy, San Diego French American School, La Jolla Country Day School and others. They were among nearly 50 schools that applied for a waiver to the county's public health guideline regarding in-person teaching.

Of the 8,824 tests reported Friday, 3% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average to 3.6%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The 7- day rolling average of tests is 7,292 daily.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,961 — or 8.2% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 728 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials reported no new community outbreaks as of Friday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 17. — City News Service

S.D. County Reports 304 COVID-19 Cases and Eight Deaths

5 p.m., Friday, Aug.t 21, 2020

As San Diego County awaits guidance on the effects of its removal from the state's coronavirus watchlist, public health officials reported 304 new COVID-19 cases and eight additional deaths Friday, raising the region's totals to 35,912 cases and 652 deaths.

Two women and six men died. Their ages ranged from early 50s to late 80s. At least seven had underlying medical conditions while it is unknown if the eighth did as well.

The county was officially removed from the state's monitoring list Tuesday, setting in motion a 14-day countdown that could see K-12 students back in the classroom as soon as Sept. 1, depending on the decisions of individual school districts.

However, 27 schools — mostly private, religious schools — have been approved in the last three days for in-person learning by the county.

The schools include Calvary Christian Academy, Francis Parker School, Chabad Hebrew Academy, San Diego French American School, La Jolla Country Day School and others. They were among nearly 50 schools that had applied for a waiver to the county's public health guidelines regarding in-person teaching.

Of the 6,567 tests reported Friday, 5% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average to 3.9%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day rolling average of tests is 7,641 daily. — City News Service

SD County Reports 232 New COVID-19 Cases; Six Deaths

– 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020

As San Diego County continues to await guidance on the effects of its removal from the state's coronavirus watchlist, public health officials reported 232 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths, raising the region's totals to 35,608 cases and 644 deaths.

Of the 9,865 tests reported Wednesday, 2% returned positive, lowering the 14-day rolling average to 4%, well below the state's 8% guideline. The seven-day rolling average of tests is 8,061 daily.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,930 — or 8.2% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 726 — or 2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. The current number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital dropped to 274 Thursday, with 103 of those in the ICU.

County health officials reported three new community outbreaks Wednesday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 16.

The county continues to keep confidential the names and locations of businesses with outbreaks. — City News Service

San Diego Off State Watch List, Another Countdown Begins

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020

As San Diego County continues to await guidance on the effects of its removal from the state's coronavirus watchlist, public health officials reported 212 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths Wednesday, raising the region's totals to 35,376 cases and 638 deaths.

The county was officially removed from the state's monitoring list Tuesday, setting in motion a 14-day countdown that could see K-12 students back in the classroom as soon as Sept. 1, depending on the decisions of individual school districts. However, any guidance on what that means for businesses was still unclear.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said he and other county officials were expecting to hear about the framework for reopening indoor businesses from the state by Monday.

"That doesn't mean we'll be able to open everything all at once," he said. "We must be mindful. We don't want to undo the progress we've made so far."

The county continues to make progress, with a case rate of 84.4 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people on Wednesday, below the state's 100 per 100,000 guideline. — City News Service

San Diego County Removed From State COVID-19 Monitoring List

– 12:15 p.m., Tuesday, Aug.t 18, 2020

San Diego County was removed from the state's COVID-19 County Monitoring List on Tuesday, according to the state's website.

Santa Cruz was the first county removed from the state’s watchlist but five more counties were added to the list, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday. Even though local officials said San Diego met the criteria last week, the county wasn’t removed from the list.

The governor, however, said San Diego wasn’t far behind.

"San Diego we anticipate to come off tomorrow based upon our analysis of the numbers and we look forward to making that announcement,” Newsom said in a live streamed update.

At Monday’s briefing, San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the state confirmed the first day the county was below the state’s case rate threshold to be off the list was Saturday. Meaning the county would be off the state’s list by Tuesday.

Local officials initially reported the state-calculated rate of new coronavirus cases remained below the threshold for the required three days as of Friday. A review by California officials found more backlogged cases from an earlier statewide reporting error that altered the rate and delayed San Diego’s removal.

– KPBS Staff

San Diego Mayor Signs Executive Order Allowing Worship, Workouts In City Parks

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday that gyms and places of worship would be able to use San Diego's parks to conduct operations outside beginning Monday morning.

City Councilman Chris Cate proposed the idea in mid-July, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a similar ordinance for county parks on Aug. 5.

Watch:

San Diego Mayor To Sign Executive Order Allowing Worship, Workouts In Parks

Faulconer said a lack of guidance from the state prompted the action.

"There is no direction currently from the state of California about what a county can and cannot do once it sheds the watchlist designation," he said. On Friday, myself and Supervisor [Greg] Cox sent a letter to the governor asking for direction.

San Diego County was placed on that state watchlist by Gov. Gavin Newsom's office for testing higher than 100 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the county. The county has been below that number for six days now and was removed from the watch list Tuesday. What that means is unclear.

Per Faulconer's executive order, San Diego's more than 300 parks, 26 miles of shoreline and 57 recreation centers could be used for gyms, fitness classes and worship services starting Monday. Social distancing and face coverings are still encouraged, but Cate said this could help struggling businesses. — City News Service

County Reports 282 New Coronavirus Cases

– 3 p.m., Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

San Diego County on Monday reported 282 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, raising the region's total to 34,960 cases.

A state official confirmed the first day the county was below the state's case rate threshold was Saturday, county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. The county had reported an earlier date.

If that holds, the county should be off the state's monitoring list Tuesday and K-12 schools could potentially open after Aug. 31. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

Governor Says San Diego County Could Exit State Monitoring List By Tomorrow

— 1:01 p.m., Aug. 17, 2020

After five straight days of San Diego County public health officials reporting a case rate of fewer than 100 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people, Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday said it was "very likely" the county would come off the state's monitoring list tomorrow.

Of the state's 58 counties, 42 remain on that list, with Santa Cruz County falling off Friday.

"This is a dynamic list. People come on, people come off, the numbers shift every single week," Newsom said Monday. "I anticipate this week the numbers to shift again and it looks like, all things being equal and the latest reporting period — 24-hour reporting period, which we will have later this evening — it's very likely San Diego will join the list of those counties removed. So, likely tomorrow."

Previously, county and state officials had said if the rate stays below 100 per 100,000 people (it was 91.9 Sunday) for three consecutive days, the county would officially be removed from that list. After an additional 14 consecutive days below that number, K-12 schools could potentially reopen for in-person teaching, depending on individual school district metrics. — City News Service

SD County Continues To Report Positive COVID-19 Trends

— 4:16 p.m., Aug. 16, 2020

For the fifth day in a row, San Diego County public health officials reported a case rate of fewer than 100 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people — however, the state said it will have to review the data before removing the county from its monitoring list.

Previously, county and state officials had said if the rate stays below 100 per 100,000 people (it was 91.9 Sunday) for three consecutive days, the county would officially be removed from that list. After an additional 14 consecutive days below that number, K-12 schools could potentially reopen for in-person teaching, depending on individual school district metrics.

Some 48 elementary schools have filed waivers with the county to return to school early.

That timeline is now uncertain, as are the specifics of reopening certain businesses for indoor operations.

As the county awaits further guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom, public health officials on Sunday reported 334 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths as of Saturday, raising the county's totals to 34,678 cases, with the death toll remaining at 626.

Of the 7,047 tests reported, 5% returned positive, maintaining the 14- day positive testing rate at 4.3%, well below the state's target of 8% or fewer. The 7-day rolling average of tests is 7,944 daily.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,856 — or 8.2% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 715 — or 2.1% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

County health officials also reported three new community outbreaks, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 24. The latest outbreaks were reported in a business, a restaurant and a restaurant-bar, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. — City News Service

Fourth Consecutive Day Of Sub-100 Per 100,000 Case Rate In S.D. County

— 4:42 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020

For the fourth day in a row, San Diego County public health officials Saturday reported a case rate of fewer than 100 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people, however, the state said it will have to review data before removing the county from its monitoring list.

Previously, county and state officials had said if the rate stays below 100 per 100,000 people — it was 94.7 Saturday — for three consecutive days, the county would officially be removed from that list. After an additional 14 consecutive days below that number, K-12 schools could potentially reopen for in-person teaching, depending on individual school district metrics.

Additionally, 48 elementary schools have filed waivers with the county to return to school early.

That timeline is now uncertain, as is the timeline of reopening certain businesses for indoor operations.

As the county awaits further guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom, public health officials reported 279 new COVID-19 cases and four new deaths Friday, raising the county's totals to 34,344 cases and 626 deaths.

One woman and three men died between July 5 and Aug, 13, and their ages ranged from the late 50s to late 80s. All had underlying medical conditions. — City News Service

San Diego Meets Criteria To Come Off Watch List But State Delaying Confirmation

— 5:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

San Diego County marked its third day meeting a key metric that could remove the region from the state’s monitoring list. Local officials reported Friday afternoon the region’s rate of new coronavirus cases was below 100 per 100,000 residents but said the state must first review its own data before confirming.

The county’s rate of new coronavirus cases first surpassed the state’s threshold July 3, prompting governor-ordered restrictions on businesses designed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

California has not yet provided guidelines for reopening businesses once a county comes off the monitoring list, but Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier Friday that he planned to release more details next week.

An emailed update from the county said the state-calculated case rate was 96.3 per 100,000.

The county reported an additional 406 people tested positive for the virus, a larger daily total than other days this week, raising the county’s total cases to 34,065. Officials also said another seven people died, increasing that tally to 622. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

7 New Deaths, 266 New COVID-19 Cases In San Diego

— 3:50 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020

For the second day in a row, San Diego County public health officials reported a case rate of fewer than 100 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people, indicating things may be improving locally with regard to the pandemic.

If the case rate — which was 96.5 per 100,000 people on Thursday — stays below 100 on Friday, the county will officially be off the state's monitoring list. After an additional 14 consecutive days below that number, some schools with students in grades 7-12 could potentially reopen for in-person teaching, depending on individual school district metrics. Theoretically, if current trends continue, students could be in school by Aug. 28.

Additionally, 48 elementary schools have filed waivers with the county to return to school early.

While signs look positive for the region, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher warned county residents against getting complacent.

"We are seeing progress, but we are in the middle of a marathon, not a sprint to the finish line right in front of us," he said Thursday. "Our goal is not just to have the rate of cases fall below 100 per 100,000, but to keep it there."

State mandates on which businesses are allowed to have indoor operations would not change, Fletcher said, until the county gets more information from Gov. Gavin Newsom's office. No other businesses can reopen after the 17 days unless the state provides further guidance.

San Diego County public health officials reported 266 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths Thursday, raising the county's totals to 33,659 cases and 615 deaths. — City News Service

SD County Reports 236 COVID-19 Cases, Six Deaths

– 4:35 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 236 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths Wednesday, raising the county's totals to 33,393 cases and 608 deaths.

Five women and one man died between July 28 and Aug. 11. Their ages ranged from 66 to 96 and all had underlying medical conditions. Of the deaths reported thus far during the pandemic, 96% had some underlying medical condition.

Of the 7,339 tests reported Wednesday, 3% returned positive, lowering the 14-day positive testing rate to 4.7%, well below the state's target of 8% or fewer. The 7-day rolling average of tests is 8,413 daily.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,792 — or 8.4% — have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 696 — or 2.1% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The county's case rate per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday is 94.2. This is below the metric of 100 cases per 100,000 people set by the state. This is the first time the case rate has been below 100 since the county was placed on the state's County Monitoring List on July 3.

San Diego County would need to report a case rate of 100 or below for three days to get off the state's county monitoring list and a case rate of 100 or below for an additional 14 days before schools grades 7-12 can reopen. No other businesses can reopen after the 17 days unless the state provides further guidance.

County health officials also reported two community outbreaks Wednesday, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 26.

The latest outbreaks were reported in a grocery store and a manufacturing setting, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. An outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days. — City News Service

Newsom Says California Turning Corner In Virus Fight

– 1:15 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020

Gov. Newsom Gives Update On COVID-19 Response

California is showing improvement in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, citing a significantly lower number of confirmed new cases as the state begins to clear backlogged cases from a data failure.

The Democratic governor said he also was encouraged by a downward trend in the state’s hospitalization rates which he noted are down 21%, and ICU admissions, down 15% over the past 14 days. The number of newly confirmed cases Wednesday, 5,433, was “another indication that we’re turning the corner on this pandemic," he said.

The latest figures represent a significant drop from the record 12,807 new daily cases reported statewide during the spike in infections last month.

More than 10,600 people statewide have died, including 180 reported Wednesday, with the great majority in Los Angeles County. — Associated Press

— KPBS Staff

The Nat To Stay Closed Until 2021 But Science Never Sleeps

– 3: 30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

The San Diego Natural History Museum announced Friday that they will remain closed through at least the end of the year. Recognizing the volatile nature of the pandemic, the museum cited the need to have a fixed goal, protect the community and make better use of resources.

After a very brief reopening in early July, the museum shut its doors again after San Diego's coronavirus numbers put the county onto Governor Newsom's watch list.

Maintaining 100 current employees, the museum is shifting its staffing focus towards supporting the distance learning models for local schools and students, and connecting them to the natural environment in the region. Lesson plans, video series and interactive resources are ways that the Nat is looking to bring a traditional field trip experience into the current reality. The Nat is currently working with educators and in partnerships with nonprofits to plan and devise this work.

The museum is also working on new programs to connect all residents to nature. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

County Reports Fewer Than 200 COVID-19 Cases For First Time Since June

– 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 182 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, the first time that fewer than 200 new cases have been reported since June 22.

However, eight coronavirus fatalities were reported Tuesday, raising the death toll to 602. Of the deaths, 96% had some underlying medical condition. The total case count for COVID-19 climbed to 33,157 Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county's partnerships with its 18 incorporated communities were allowing law enforcement to step up efforts to punish egregious violators of public health orders.

A visit from county staff is the first action used, followed by a cease and desist order and then an order to close. If an entity refuses to close after that order it will be cited and fined $1,000 — as University Heights gym Boulevard Fitness was Tuesday, Fletcher said.

"The selfish defiance of the public health orders only hurts those acting in good faith," he said. "This is not out of a desire to be punitive."

County health officials also reported six community outbreaks, bringing the number of outbreaks in the past week to 29.

The latest outbreaks were reported in a restaurant/bar setting, a gym, two in government offices and two in businesses, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. — City News Service

San Diego County Gives COVID-19 Update

San Diego County Reports 228 New COVID-19 Cases, Five Community Outbreaks

—4:20 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

San Diego County health officials Monday reported 228 new COVID-19 infections and five community outbreaks, raising the county's cumulative caseload to 32,975 and bringing to two dozen the number of outbreaks in the past week.

No new coronavirus fatalities were reported Monday. The total death toll remains at 594.

The new outbreaks were reported in a restaurant, a restaurant/bar setting, a government office, a business and a grocery store, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The number of community outbreaks remains well above the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span.

A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,752 — or 8.3% — required hospitalization since the pandemic began, and 689 — or 2.1% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The county reported 7,570 tests Saturday, 3% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 5%. The state's target is fewer than 8.0% testing positive. The seven -day daily average of tests is 8,148.

— City News Service

'Months, Not Weeks,'' Until Students Can Return To San Diego Unified Schools

San Diego Unified School District officials announced Monday they were making preparations to get children back in schools, but were looking at a timeline of "months, not weeks," before that could become a reality.

The district will adopt strict new standards to protect students, staff and the community from the spread of COVID-19 when schools convene in person again, District Superintendent Cindy Marten said during a news conference Monday. The measures are being adopted and developed in consultation with experts from UCSD.

In the meantime, the district will begin classes remotely this month.

Conditions for reopening local schools will be stricter than state standards, will proceed in phases and will require critical protective measures including mandatory masks, proper ventilation and strict social distancing, according to district leaders.

State standards for reopening schools already require a seven-day testing positivity rate of less than 8% and other factors, but the panel convened by San Diego Unified called for adding contact tracing metrics and other factors included in the County of San Diego's designated health triggers.

"We consulted with the world's leading experts on all aspects of this pandemic because we wanted a comprehensive set of standards to create the safest possible environment for our students and staff," said Dr. Howard Taras, UCSD professor and consulting pediatrician for San Diego Unified. "The strength in these new standards comes precisely from this combination of factors. Taken together, they represent the strictest reasonable conditions for safety when operations eventually resume."

Governor Gives Few Details On Top California Official's Exit

—4:00 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

A day after announcing that California's public health director suddenly resigned, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday dodged questions about her departure even as he stressed the importance of transparency and accountability.

“Decisions were made, and we're moving forward," he said of the Sunday night resignation by Dr. Sonia Angell. “No one's trying to hide that, no one's trying to mask that. We're owning that."

The remarks came during Newsom's first news conference since county and state health officials revealed the data error, which led to a lag in the reporting of nearly 300,000 coronavirus test results. He last spoke to the public one week earlier. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Gives Update On COVID-19 Response

Angell said in a resignation letter made public that she's departing from her role as director and state public health officer at the California Department of Public Health.

Her letter to staff, released by the California Health and Human Services Agency, did not give a specific reason for her departure. Pressed repeatedly by reporters, Newsom would not answer whether he asked her to resign. But he said that he and Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, made “changes" and “adjustments" to the state's leadership team.

“She wrote a resignation letter, and I accepted her resignation. We’re all accountable in our respective roles to what happens underneath us," he said. “If it’s not obvious, then I encourage you to consider the fact that we accepted her resignation."

— Associated Press

SeaWorld Entertainment Announces Revenue, Attendance Losses Amid Pandemic

—3:23 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

SeaWorld Entertainment Monday announced major revenue and attendance declines in the second quarter stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

SeaWorld parks drew 300,000 guests during the quarter, down from 6.5 million guests from the year-ago second quarter. The company reported $18 million in revenue in the second quarter, down from $406 million during the same time last year. The company reported a net loss of $131 million during the second quarter.

The global public health crisis was cited as the major contributing factor, as all SeaWorld parks were closed for nearly three months due to pandemic restrictions.

A phased reopening of some parks began in early June, and overall, a total of seven parks were open for 98 operating days compared with all 12 parks open for 861 days during the second quarter of 2019. The reopened parks operated at limited capacity, limited hours and/or limited days.

— City News Service

San Diego County Reports 417 New COVID-19 Cases, One Death

—4:23 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 417 new COVID-19 infections and one additional death, raising the county's totals to 32,747 cases and 594 fatalities since the onset of the pandemic.

Four new community outbreaks were confirmed Saturday, all at businesses, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. In the past seven days, 24 community outbreaks were confirmed.

The number of community outbreaks remains above the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households in the past 14 days.

The one new COVID-19 death, reported on Saturday, was a man in his 60s who had underlying medical conditions. He died on July 26.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,745 — or 8.4% — required hospitalization, and 687 — or 2.1% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The county reported 6,236 tests Saturday, 7% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 5.3%. The state's target is fewer than 8.0% testing positive. The 7-day daily average of tests is 8,000. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 551 new COVID-19 Cases, Seven Deaths

— 5:31 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020

San Diego County health officials today reported 551 new COVID-19 infections and seven additional fatalities, raising the county's totals to 32,330 cases and 593 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

The new deaths — four men and three women — occurred between July 29 and Thursday, and ranged in age from 49 to 90. All had underlying medical conditions, according to the health department.

The county reported 9,472 tests Friday, 6% of which returned positive. The 14-day running average of daily positive results is 5.1%. The state's target is fewer than 8% testing positive.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,730 — or 8.4% — required hospitalization and 682 — or 2.1% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 652 new COVID-19 Cases, Three Deaths

— 5:26 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 652 new COVID-19 infections and three additional fatalities Friday, raising the county's totals to 31,779 cases and 586 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

The new deaths — a woman and two men — occurred between July 29 and Wednesday, and they ranged in age from 60 to 77. All had underlying medical conditions, according to the health department.

The county reported 11,501 tests Friday, 6% of which returned positive. The 14-day running average of daily positive results is 4.9%. The state's target is fewer than 8% testing positive.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,712 — or 8.5% — required hospitalization and 681 — or 2.1% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

City Attorney Files Civil Action To Shut Down Bankers Hill Rental Property

– 3:08 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

The San Diego City Attorney's Office took legal action Friday to shut down a short-term vacation rental property in Bankers Hill it alleges was the site of several "raucous parties" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The property located at 2970 Second Ave., dubbed "The Ashley" in an Airbnb listing, was also illegally renovated, the City Attorney's Office said, leading to a civil enforcement action citing more than 20 violations of state and local laws. Civil penalties and a permanent injunction against property owner David Contreras Curiel and property manager Alexander Mendez are being sought.

The City Attorney's Office said more than a dozen complaints were lodged by neighbors due to parties held at the rental, some of which occurred while COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings were in effect. — City News Service

County Positive Test Rate Continues Downward Trend But Still Higher Than State Allows

– 5:20 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020

San Diego County health officials Thursday reported 263 new COVID-19 infections and five additional fatalities, raising the county's totals to 31,127 cases and 583 deaths.

The three men and two women died between July 23 and Aug. 4 and ranged in age from 57 to 87. All had underlying medical conditions, according to the health department.

The county reported 11,106 tests Thursday, 2% of which returned positive. The 14-day running average is 4.9%. The state's target is fewer than 8% testing positive.

Of the total positive cases in the county, 2,681 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 674 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. Officials estimate more than 24,000 people have recovered from the virus.

The rate of the population testing positive has dropped to 105.7 per 100,000. The state's goal is to be below 100 per 100,000. One week ago, the rate was 134.4 per 100,000 in the county.

The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 also continues to trend downward, with 392 in regional hospitals as of Thursday, including 125 in intensive care units.

The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who have been contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from 7% on July 18 to 73%. The county's target for this metric is more than 90%, but 70% is good enough to get it out of the "failed" trigger category.

A half-dozen additional community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, bringing the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 31. The latest outbreaks were reported in a preschool, a restaurant, two healthcare settings and two businesses. — City News Service

SDSU Fall Sports Will Start After Sept. 26, Pending Pandemic Updates

– 1:56 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020

San Diego State University will not begin any of its fall sports earlier than Sept. 26 due to the ongoing pandemic, the university's athletics department announced Thursday.

This follows guidance from the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors, which decided Wednesday to adjust conference team schedules to allow additional monitoring of ongoing COVID-19 developments and adjustments to keep student-athletes safe.

The SDSU Aztecs football team will shrink its schedule to 10 games and most other fall sports will only play conference opponents. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 348 New COVID-19 Cases

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 348 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths Wednesday, raising the county's totals to 30,864 cases and 578 deaths.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday that California had reported issues with private labs and reporting, meaning some additional cases might be retroactively added to both local and statewide case totals in coming weeks.

Of the total positive cases, 2,655 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 666 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. Officials estimate more than 24,000 people have recovered from the virus.

San Diego County COVID-19 Update

The rate of the population testing positive has dropped to 105.7 per 100,000 people. The state's goal is to be below 100 per 100,000. One week ago the rate was 134.4 per 100,000 — a trend which could potentially get San Diego County off the state's watch list.

The county reported 6,981 tests Wednesday, 5% of which returned positive. The 14-day running average is 5.3% and the county has recorded 631,968 total tests since March.

Additionally, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to trend downward, with 392 in regional hospitals including 125 in intensive care units.

The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who have been contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from a dismal 7% on July 18 to 73%. The county's target for this metric is more than 90%, but 70% is good enough to get it out of the "failed" trigger category.

Five additional community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, bringing the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 30. The outbreaks were reported in a preschool, a restaurant/bar setting, a faith-based organization and two in businesses.

There have been 164 community outbreaks reported since stay-at-home orders in March, with 1,220 cases and 11 deaths linked. In skilled nursing facilities, 145 deaths have been linked to 59 outbreaks. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 290 COVID-19 Cases, Three Deaths

– 5:50 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020

San Diego County health officials Tuesday reported 290 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths, among the lowest numbers in the past month.

The county's total caseload stands at 30,516 and the number of fatalities at 568. Officials estimate that more than 23,900 people have recovered from the virus.

One caveat to those relatively low numbers is the number of tests the county recorded Tuesday is the fewest in more than a month, with just 4,168 reported. Of those, 7% returned positive — above the county's rolling 14-day average of 5.4%.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher on Monday described July as a "roller coaster" but said the end of the month showed promising trends, which he hopes will carry on into August and beyond.

The rate of the population testing positive has dropped to 114.9 per 100,000 people. The state's goal is to be below 100 per 100,000.

Additionally, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to drop, with 381 in regional hospitals including 120 in intensive care units — the fewest in more than a month.

The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who are contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from a dismal 9% in late July to more than 60% now. The county's target for this metric is more than 70%.

The only metric the county appears to be getting worse on is the spread of community outbreaks. An additional outbreak was reported Tuesday, bringing the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 32. — City News Service

First San Diego County Business Owner Faces Charges For Violating Coronavirus Health Order

– 3:05 p.m., Monday, August 3, 2020

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office charged a business owner for violating the county's public health order that was put in place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

This is the first time a business owner in San Diego County has been charged for violating the county's public health order.

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Ramona Fitness Case

Ramona Fitness Case

San Diego County District Attorney charges against owner of Ramona Fitness owner for failing to comply with the county public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Peter San Nicolas, the owner of Ramona Fitness Center, was charged with five separate counts of refusing to comply with the California Emergency Services Act in a complaint filed Friday.

San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said during a Monday news briefing that law enforcement became involved following multiple attempts by the county to get San Nicolas to comply with the public health order.

The San Diego District Attorney's Office issued the following statement:

"We understand and sympathize with the significant hardship placed on businesses who are required to remain closed. But public health orders are in place to safeguard the health of everyone in our community amid this deadly pandemic. Along with our law enforcement partners, we work with businesses to give them opportunities to achieve voluntary compliance. But when the public health order is ignored and the law is broken, the public's health is at risk and we will file charges."

San Nicolas could face up to six months in jail or a $5,000 fine if found guilty. – KPBS News Staff

County Reports No New COVID-19 Deaths, 343 More Virus Cases

– 3:35 p.m., Monday, Aug. 3, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported the number of total COVID-19 cases in the region has crossed 30,000, even as other numbers appear to be improving.

A total of 343 new cases Monday raises the county total to 30,226. No new deaths were reported Monday, keeping that number at 565.

Of 6,536 tests the county recorded Monday, just over 5% of them returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average of positive tests down to 5.3%. The state's target is fewer than 8% of tests returning positive.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher described July as a "roller coaster," but the end of the month showed promising trends which he hopes will carry on into August and beyond.

The rate of the population testing positive has dropped to 118.2 per 100,000 people. The state's goal is to be below 100 per 100,000. A week ago that number was above 140 per 100,000.

San Diego County Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

Additionally, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to drop, with 390 in regional hospitals including 124 in intensive care units — the fewest in several weeks.

The percentage of people testing positive for the illness who are contacted by a county contact tracer in the first 48 hours has increased from a dismal 9% in late July to more than 48% now. The county's target for this metric is more than 70%.

The only metric the county appears to be getting worse on is the spread of community outbreaks. An additional four outbreaks were reported Monday — two in businesses, one in a higher education setting and one in a government setting — raising the number of community outbreaks in the county in the past week to 39.

Of the 132 outbreaks reported since June 1, 48 of them have occurred in restaurant/bar settings, 27 in other businesses, nine in healthcare settings and eight in restaurants.

Of the total positive cases, 2,599 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 656 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

Newsom Continues To Focus COVID-19 Response On Central Valley

– 12:11 p.m., Monday, August 3, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom is continuing to focus California's response to the coronavirus on the state's Central Valley, where case numbers continue to grow. During an update today, Newsom said while some parts of the state are seeing a stabilization — or even declines — in COVID-19 numbers, the Central Valley is seeing an increase in positivity rates, hospitalizations and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care.

"Disproportionately, this disease is impacting our diverse communities," Newsom said. "Disproportionately impacting the Latino community. Disproportionately impacting the community in the Central Valley."

CA Gov. Newsom Gives Update On COVID-19 Response

Though California's COVID-19 positivity rate is 7 percent, several counties in the Central Valley — which has a large Latino population — are seeing much higher numbers, including Tulare at 13.9 percent, Merced at 14.9 percent and Kern at 24.4 percent.

"And that's why our targeted interventions disproportionately are focusing on essential workforce, on farmworkers, on critical workforce and hospitality, retail sector and the like, that is being impacted by this disease," Newsom said.

To address the issue, California is using the model it first deployed to help Imperial County following a massive COVID-19 outbreak there. While includes deploying state and federal personnel to help slow the transmission of the disease through investigations and contract tracing, provide support to hospitals and help manage outbreaks. Newsom has announced $52 million to support those efforts in the Central Valley. – Katie Orr/KQED

306 New Cases, No New COVID-19 Deaths In San Diego County

— 4:30 p.m., Sunday, August 2, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 306 newly confirmed cases Sunday and no additional deaths from COVID- 19, bringing the county's totals to 29,883 cases and holding the death toll at 565.

No new community outbreaks of COVID-19 were identified Saturday. In the past seven days, 37 community outbreaks were confirmed.

Of the 5,655 tests reported Saturday, 5% were positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 5.3%. The state's target is fewer than 8% of tests returning positive.

Of the total positive cases, 2,577 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 652 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

529 New Cases, Four New COVID-19 Deaths in San Diego County

— 5:17 p.m., Saturday, August 1, 2020

San Diego County public health officials today reported 529 newly confirmed cases and four additional deaths from COVID-19, bringing the county's totals to 29,577 cases and 565 deaths.

Three new community outbreaks of COVID-19 were identified Friday, raising the number of outbreaks in the past week to 40. One outbreak was in a restaurant/bar, another in a gym, the other in a government setting.

The number of outbreaks far exceeds the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Of the 9,161 tests reported Friday, 6% were positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 5.4%. The state's target is fewer than 8% of tests returning positive.

Of the total positive cases, 2,551 — or 8.6% — required hospitalization and 650 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The four people whose deaths were reported Friday were men who died between July 24 and July 31. Their ages ranged from 55 to 82. All had underlying medical conditions, as have 95% of those who have died from the illness. — City News Service

County Says Pre-Existing Conditions Put 57% Of San Diegans At Risk Of COVID Complications

— 5:14 p.m., Saturday, August 1, 2020

More than half of county residents may face complications if they contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness. Data analysis by county epidemiologists found 57% of San Diegans have at least one factor, such as age, heart or — not surprisingly — lung disease, that increases their risk during the pandemic.

Local pulmonologist Dr. Ni-Cheng Liang said lung diseases like asthma and chronic bronchitis restrict airways that can become further inflamed by coronavirus.

“That is a fabulous set up for another viral respiratory infection to basically take hold and cause even more inflammation, even more airway constriction, narrowing the opening of that airway, even more mucus secretion, causing more blockage in that airway opening,” said Liang, a volunteer physician and regional committee member for the American Lung Association chapter in San Diego.

Liang, director of pulmonary integrative medicine at Scripps Health partner Coastal Pulmonary Associates, said impact can be minimized if people manage their conditions well, but inflammation is also a risk factor for patients with obesity or disorders of other organs and that can weaken the body’s defense.

“Some of the times that underlying inflammation can go beyond that particular organ and so the protoplasm of the person who has that chronic underlying condition isn’t as strong, so the immune system becomes affected,” she said. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS News

San Diego COVID-19 Cases Nearly Doubles In July

– 4:30 p.m., Friday, July 31, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 13 new community outbreaks of COVID-19 Friday, raising the number of outbreaks in the past week to 38.

Three of the outbreaks were reported in business settings, three in restaurants, two in restaurant/bar settings, two in hotel/resort/spa settings, one in a health care facility, one in a faith-based setting and one in a grocery store.

The number of community outbreaks far exceeds the county's goal of fewer than seven in a seven-day span. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

A total of 91 outbreaks have been reported in July, more than double the number reported in June and more than the number reported from March through June.

The county reported 380 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths, raising the region's totals to 29,048 cases and 561 fatalities.

On June 30, the county reported a total of 14,623 cases. It has nearly doubled its total in 31 days.

Of the 9,066 tests reported Friday, 4% were positive, dropping the 14- day rolling average of positive test cases to 5.4%. The state's target is fewer than 8% of tests returning positive.

Of the total positive cases, 2,521 — or 8.7% — required hospitalization and 642 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The three people whose deaths were reported Friday were a woman and two men who died between July 20 and July 29, and their ages ranged from 69 to 79. All had underlying medical conditions, as have 95% of those who have died from the illness.

According to county data, 57% of adult San Diego County residents have underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. These conditions put such people at risk for serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

Of the total hospitalized during the pandemic due to the illness, 71% have been 50 or older. The highest age group testing positive for the illness are those 20-29, and that group is also least likely to take precautionary measures to avoid spreading the illness, a county statement said. — City News Service

5 Outbreaks Reported At San Diego Area Restaurants/Bars; 6 New COVID-19 Deaths

— 5:11 p.m., July 30, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 381 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths today, raising the region's totals to 28,668 cases and 558 deaths.

On June 30, the county had reported a total of 14,623 cases. It has nearly doubled its total in 30 days.

Of the 8,238 cases reported Thursday, 5% were positive, dropping the 14-day rolling average of positive test cases to 5.6%. The state's target is fewer than 8% of tests returning positive.

Of the total positive cases, 2,486 — or 8.7% — required hospitalization and 638 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The six people whose deaths were reported Thursday were two women and four men who died between May 29 and July 29, and their ages ranged from 48 to 86. All had underlying medical conditions, as have 95% of those who have died from the illness.

Five new community setting outbreaks were reported Thursday — all in restaurant/bar settings. In the past seven days, 28 community outbreaks have been confirmed. – City News Service

San Diego To Receive $1.8 Million For Small Businesses Impacted By Coronavirus Pandemic

– 3 p.m., Thursday, July 30, 2020

The U.S. Department of Commerce on Thursday awarded more than $38 million in coronavirus relief money across Southern California, including $1.8 million to the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista.

The commerce department's Economic Development Administration will give the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic (CARE) Security Act money to San Diego to begin and administer a revolving loan fund for coronavirus-impacted businesses in San Diego and Chula Vista.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the revolving loan funds will provide critical gap financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across Southern California.

"President Trump is working diligently every day to support our nation's economy following the impacts of COVID-19 through the CARES Act," Ross said. "These investments will provide small businesses across Southern California with the necessary capital to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic and, in turn, create a stronger and more resilient state economy for the future."

The CARES Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump, provides the EDA with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. — City News Service

San Diego Struggling To Keep Up With Coronavirus Contact Tracing

– 2:30 p.m., Thursday, July 30, 2020

For more than two weeks, San Diego County has failed to meet its goal to begin investigations of new COVID-19 cases within 24 hours.

That means the close contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus are not being alerted quickly and are not being told to quarantine.

The county set a goal that 70% of new case investigations would begin within 24 hours — currently, just 11% of case investigations meet that goal.

Part of the reason is the county does not have enough case investigators, which is a different job from a contact tracer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Case investigators are the people who call a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. They have a lengthy conversation to find out everyone that person has been in close contact with over the past two weeks. The county defines "close contact" as spending more than 15 minutes less than 6 feet away from someone.

The person who tested positive, however, is also a person who needs care and support.

"They want to know what do next, how do I get what I need, how do I pay my bills if I can't go to work," said Rebecca Fielding-Miller, an epidemiologist at UC San Diego. "The investigator makes sure that person is supported and knows what resources are available to them.

The conversations can sometimes span multiple hours, she said. — Claire Trageser, KPBS News

PPP Loans Not Going To Underserved Communities

– 2 p.m., Thursday, July 30, 2020

Just one month into the pandemic, and one year into fulfilling his long-standing dream of owning a business, Andrew Benavides’s City Heights coffee shop’s sales dropped by half.

“People decided not to go out anymore,” he said. “And it was frustrating, discouraging for sure.”

Benavides, 26, hoped to use a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan as a lifeline to cover everything that keeps his business called Cafeina afloat — rent, utilities, inventory. But then came more bad news. Officials told him he wasn’t eligible for the federal relief loan.

“According to them at the time, I didn't fall under one of their qualifications, which was having employees,” Benavides said.

Tiny businesses are bleeding in San Diego County as the pandemic rages on. The PPP loans are a big part of the federal government’s effort to lessen the economic fallout from COVID-19. The money is intended for businesses hit hard by the pandemic lockdown.

But that financial help may not be getting to its targets because the government’s definition of small businesses for the loans was those with fewer than 500 workers.

“To most people, that's a very large business,” said Enrique Gandarilla, executive director of the City Heights Business Association. “And if they really wanted to help Main Street America, they should have lowered that threshold so that these smaller businesses wouldn't have to compete with businesses that have 500 employees.” — Amita Sharma, KPBS News

COVID-19 Cases Dip, County Increases Protections For Employees In Health Order

— 5:17 p.m., July 29, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Wednesday reported 282 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths while amending the public health order to increase protection for employees working during the pandemic.

The amendment to the county's public health order, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday will require all employers to inform employees of any COVID-19 outbreaks or cases at a place of business. Previously, the county recommended employers disclose outbreak information but did not require it.

"We are continually adjusting and making refinements," said county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. "We believe most entities are acting responsibly, but this will ensure employers inform their employees."

The infections and fatalities reported Wednesday raise the cumulative caseload to 28,287 and the death toll to 522.

Of the 6,899 tests reported Wednesday, 4% returned positive, lower than the 14-day average of around 6%. Of the total positive cases, 2,459 — or 8.7% — required hospitalization and 632 — or 2.2% — were admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

S.D. Officials Propose $700K For Small Businesses In Underserved Communities

— 5:17 p.m., July 29, 2020

City officials announced a proposal Wednesday to reallocate $700,000 from San Diego's Small Business Relief Fund toward helping hard-hit businesses in historically underserved communities to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposal, which still requires city council approval, would provide grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, specialized outreach, and technical assistance to business owners.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the funds represented "extra cash in business owners' hands for things like rent, payroll and personal protective equipment." Business owners would also be provided "outreach to help owners comply with all the regulations and connect them with other available relief sources" at the state or federal level, the mayor said. — City News Service

S.D. County COVID-19 Cases Cross 28,000, Eight New Outbreaks Confirmed

– 5 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 498 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths Tuesday, raising the region's totals to 28,005 cases and 547 deaths.

Of the deaths, six were women and eight were men, ranging in age from their early 60s to late 90s, and died between July 17-26. All had underlying medical conditions.

Of the 6,623 tests recorded Tuesday, 8% returned positive. The 14-day average is 5.7% and the state's target is below 8% to minimize the spread of the illness.

Eight new community setting outbreaks were reported Tuesday — five in restaurant/bar settings, one in a gym, one in a nail salon and one in a residence. In the past seven days, 20 community outbreaks have been confirmed.

The number of community outbreaks is above the county's goal of fewer than seven in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households. — City News Service

KAABOO Postponing Festival To 2021

– 1:08 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The KAABOO food and music festival has been postponed until 2021 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, joining the vast majority of other major San Diego events.

The event, in its sixth year, was originally scheduled for Sept. 18-20 at Petco Park.

"After much consultation with stakeholders in local government, artists and music industry friends, and members of the San Diego community, we know it is best and safest for everyone to look ahead and plan a bigger and bolder edition of KAABOO for September of 2021," festival organizers said in a statement this week. "All current pass holders will receive an email outlining a special offering for those of you who hold onto your passes for KAABOO 2021. All pass holders will have the option for a full refund. We are disappointed that we are not able to bring you our 2020 vision for San Diego's favorite music festival, but rest assured we will work hard to make 2021 an event where we can celebrate a better future."

The first five years of the festival took place at the Del Mar racetrack with headliners such as Foo Fighters, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Katy Perry.

KAABOO joins other large gatherings in San Diego that have either been postponed or modified their protocols — such as Wonderfront, San Diego Comic-Con, and Padres games. KAABOO this year joined a multi-year partnership with the Padres and the festival's Los Angeles-based producer Virgin Fest.

The festival organizers had not announced any acts for the 2020 event, and tickets had not been sold since a January "early-bird" sale ended. – City News Service

523 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths Reported In San Diego

– 4:30 p.m., Monday, July 27, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Monday reported 529 coronavirus-related hospitalizations — a high for the month of July — and expressed concern about a weekend outdoor church service that attracted scores of unmasked worshippers.

The county also reported 523 new diagnoses to raise the region's cumulative coronavirus case total to 27,507, but the death toll was unchanged at 533.

During an afternoon briefing, San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the church service held Sunday evening on Cardiff State Beach drew more than 1,000 worshipers.

San Diego County Gives COVID-19 Update

"It really was a massive group of people gathering together without social distancing and without wearing facial coverings," Wooten said. "We will continue to address this egregious violation as we have the others that have been brought to our attention."

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the re-closure of churches in much of the state about two weeks ago amid a spike in the number of coronavirus cases. Outdoor worship services are still permitted, though attendees are supposed to wear face coverings and stay six feet apart.

Wooten also noted that San Diego County has been on the state's monitoring list for around three weeks and in order to get off the list, the county would need to lower its 14-day case rate to below 100 cases per 100,000 population. San Diego's 14-day case rate is at 144 per 100,000 as of Monday.

"If people continue to show or implement behavior in terms of gathering and not wearing face coverings and not social distancing, it is quite possible we will not get off the list," Wooten said.

In order to get off the state's monitoring list, San Diego County would have to report 234 or fewer new cases per day for two weeks straight, according to the county's public health officer. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Announces New Focus On Hard-Hit Central Valley

– 12:00 p.m., Monday, July 27, 2020

With COVID-19 cases spiking across California's agriculture-rich Central Valley, Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will direct tens of millions of dollars to the region to help staunch the virus' spread.

Standing at the Diamond Foods headquarters in Stockton on Monday, Newsom noted that COVID-19 positivity rates in the eight-county Central Valley region are around double the state average of 7.5%, reaching as high as 18% in some communities.

Those rates, he said, are driven by the reality that farm and food processing workers have to keep working, pandemic or not.

Live: Governor Newsom Gives COVID-19 Update

Newsom announced a proposal to put $52 million of a $499 million Centers for Disease Control grant into what he deemed "strike teams."

Three of those teams, he said, will fan out across the region to help support health officials across the valley.

"Today we're announcing a $52 million investment, new dollars that will be put into the Central Valley, into the eight counties, to improve our isolation protocols, our quarantine protocols, our testing protocols and to enhance our health care workers by providing more support as well as more personnel," Newsom said.

– Marisa Lagos/KQED

San Diego County Reports 283 New COVID-19 Cases

— 5:53 p.m., July 26, 2020

San Diego County public health officials have reported 283 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths, raising the region's total number of cases to 26,984, with the death toll remaining at 533.

The county reported 7,505 diagnostic tests Saturday, 4% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 5.6%. The target set by California is less than 8%. The seven-day daily average of tests is 9,201. Of the total positive cases, 2,391 — or 8.9% — required hospitalization and 614 — or 2.3% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

Three new community setting outbreaks were reported Saturday in a restaurant/bar, food processing facility and business. In the past seven days, 11 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks is above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

The next pandemic briefing from health officials will be Monday. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 603 New COVID-19 Cases, Nine Deaths

— 4:11 p.m., July 25, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 603 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths Saturday, raising the region's totals to 26,701 cases and 533 deaths.

Officials said five men and four women died between July 11 and July 24 and their ages ranged from 60 to 93. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

The county reported a record 16,429 diagnostic tests Friday, 4% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 5.8%. The target set by California is less than 8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 9,406.

Of the total positive cases, 2,364 — or 8.9% — required hospitalization and 606 — or 2.3% — were admitted to an intensive care unit.

One new community setting outbreak was reported Friday in a business. In the past seven days, 11 community outbreaks were confirmed. The number of community outbreaks is above the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 490 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths

— 4:19 p.m., July 24, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 490 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths related to the illness, raising the region's totals to 26,098 cases and 524 deaths.

Four women and eight men died between June 15 and July 22, and their ages ranged from 44 to 88. All had underlying medical conditions.

The county reported 6,974 tests Friday, 7% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 6.1%. The target set by California is less than 8%.

After three days with a downward trend in cases, the 587 cases and 18 deaths reported Wednesday marked a swing in the other direction. Wednesday was the deadliest day due to COVID-19 yet reported in the pandemic. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Announces Additional Essential Worker Safeguards

— 1:37 p.m., July 24, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced the state would be pursuing additional safeguards for California’s essential workers. The state hasn’t focused enough on essential workers, the governor said.

Newsom added that specific populations are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, namely Latinx communities as many of them are essential workers.

“This is where we’re seeing the spread,” Newsom said.

Photo caption:

Photo by Office of the Governor of California

A chart describing the race and ethnicity of frontline essential workers in California. July 24, 2020.

With California’s legislature, Newsom said the state would work on building upon protections set in place by past executive orders. These include: ensuring COVID-19 positive workers have a place to self-isolate, provide temporary housing for COVID-19 positive farmworkers and building upon the state’s mask-wearing campaign to target employers, workers and families.

Increasing essential worker safety will include expanding upon Project Homekey, the state’s program to find shelter for those experiencing homelessness and at-risk to contracting COVID-19, and providing employers with handbooks relating to reducing the spread of coronavirus in workplaces.

Newsom clarified he’s not issuing any executive orders Friday but intends to work in tandem with the legislature to pass bills its members have introduced.

California’s total positive COVID-19 cases now total 435,334, with 9,718 new cases reported Friday. The state’s total death count is 8,186, with 159 new deaths reported Friday. The seven-day average of positive cases is 9,881 and the 14-day positivity rate is 7.5%. — Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

San Diego County Reports 501 New COVID-19 Cases, Seven Deaths

– 3:25 p.m., Thursday, July 23, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 501 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths related to the illness Thursday, raising the region's totals to 25,608 cases and 512 deaths

Four women and three men died between July 8 and July 21, and their ages ranged from 44 to 95. All had underlying medical conditions.

The county reported 8,304 tests Thursday, 6% of which returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 6%. The target set by California is less than 8%.

After three days with a downward trend in cases, the 587 cases and 18 deaths reported Wednesday marked a swing in the other direction. Wednesday was the deadliest day due to COVID-19 yet reported in the pandemic.

As a result of numbers that continue to rise, Supervisor Greg Cox announced Wednesday that San Diego County was starting a Safe Reopening Compliance Team that will provide assistance to businesses and residents not in compliance with public health orders. The team's exact powers were not immediately clear.

"This is a carrot approach, not a stick," Cox said Wednesday. "But we still have the stick and other tools to ensure compliance."

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the team would enable the county to step up enforcement on "egregious violations" — but the details on that enforcement were also unclear. Officials were reaching out to the various cities and communities in the county to collaborate on solutions.

"This is out of an effort to keep our businesses open, not to close them," Fletcher said.

One new community outbreak was identified Thursday, bringing the total in the past seven days to 12. The number of community outbreaks — defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households — remains higher than the state threshold of seven or more in seven days.

The new outbreak was reported in a restaurant/bar.

Of the total positive cases, 2,309 — or 9% — have been hospitalized and 599 — or 2.3% — have been admitted to an intensive care unit. As of Wednesday, 485 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized, 166 of them in intensive care units. – City News Service

Grant for $75,000 To Support Hunger Relief At Nonprofit Kitchens For Good

– 2:52 p.m., Thursday, July 23, 2020

The San Diego Foundation gave a $75,000 grant to a local culinary training nonprofit Thursday to help provide meals to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kitchens for Good trains people coming from incarceration, homelessness and foster care to work in the culinary industry. The grant from the San Diego Foundation's COVID-19 Community Response Fund will go toward preparing hunger-relief meals made from scratch with rescued produce from local farms and wholesalers.

The grant also received funding support from San Diego Gas & Electric, and will help the nonprofit scale up its hunger-relief efforts to produce approximately 7,000 meals a week. The meals are distributed through the San Diego Food Bank, I Am My Brother's Keepers, Jewish Family Services and through a meal kiosk at Kitchens for Good.

Over the next six months, Kitchens for Good expects to produce more than 100,000 meals to meet the basic food needs of vulnerable seniors, displaced workers, low-income children and their families affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic. It has already distributed about 128,000 hunger-relief meals. – City News Service

COVID-19 Numbers Cross 25,000 Cases, 500 Deaths In S.D. County

– 4:10 p.m., July 22, 2020

San Diego County crossed two major milestones in the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday, reporting more than 25,000 total cases and more than 500 fatalities.

With 587 new cases and 18 deaths announced Wednesday, the region's totals reached 25,107 cases and 505 deaths.

As a result of numbers that continue to rise, Supervisor Greg Cox announced that San Diego County was starting a Safe Reopening Compliance Team that will provide assistance to businesses and residents not in compliance with public health orders.

The team's exact powers were not immediately clear.

"This is a carrot approach, not a stick," Cox said. "But we still have the stick and other tools to ensure compliance."

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the team would enable the county to step up enforcement on "egregious violations" — but the details on that enforcement were also unclear. Officials were also reaching out to the various cities and communities in the county to collaborate on solutions. – City News Service

Gov. Newsom Wants To Diversify California’s Mask Suppliers

– 1:51 p.m., July 22, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom reported 12,087 new COVID-19 cases and 115 deaths in California Wednesday, along with a desire to diversify the state’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supply base.

The new positive cases in California now total 413,576 and with deaths totaling 7,870. The 14-day positivity rate is 7.4% and 7-day positivity rate is 7.6%. The positivity rate for California is rising moderately, which Newsom said is cause for concern.

Gov. Newsom Gives Update On COVID-19 Response

Newsom also said the state hopes to diversify its PPE supply by submitting a request for proposals (RFP) for a larger contract. He said he wants more California-based companies and competitive prices.

Currently, the state has a nearly $1 billion contract with the Chinese automaker BYD to create both surgical and N95 masks. The company, however, had trouble getting a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health certification for the N95 masks. This caused a delay in the delivery of masks.

California is going through about 46 million mask units per month, said Newsom. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

Lawsuit Seeks Hotel Room Access For San Diego Homeless During Pandemic

– 3:57 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Attorneys representing five local homeless individuals and their families in a lawsuit against the city and county of San Diego said today their clients should be provided access to county-funded hotel and motel rooms during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly due to being at high risk of contracting the virus.

The lawsuit filed last month in San Diego Superior Court alleges the current shelter program at the San Diego Convention Center — Operation Shelter to Home — poses health and safety risks to the homeless, while "many hotel and motel rooms leased under Operation Shelter to Home were left empty and remain empty."

The lawsuit states, "Under the pretext of public safety, the city continues to divert state and federal COVID-19 funds to its Convention Center despite the risk this congregate setting poses to the health and safety of homeless individuals."

The suit alleges the named plaintiffs are in greater need of hotel placements due to underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, and says the city is putting the homeless community at risk by not providing non-congregate housing options. – City News Service

San Diego County Launches Latino Outreach Campaign For COVID-19

– 3:05 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, 2020

San Diego County officials announced additional outreach campaigns Tuesday to the region's Latino community, which has been the hardest-hit group in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The effort consists of a new TV, radio, online and signage campaign describing protective measures and community resources.

To date, of the county's more than 24,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases with known race/ethnicity, about 60% are Latino. That ethnic group makes up about 34% of the local population.

County Health and Human Services Agency data also show the case rate for Latinos is about 1,045 per every 100,000 residents. The only other group with a higher infection rate is Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, with about 1,146 testing positive per every 100,000 residents. In comparison, white San Diegans have a case rate of about 320 per 100,000 and represent 38% of all the cases.

Additionally, more COVID-19 deaths are also being reported in the Latino community. Of the county's nearly 480 deaths, about 45% were Latinos, followed by whites at about 38% and Asians at 12%.

The campaign launched this week comes on the heels of commercials on three of the most listened-to Spanish radio stations in the region. The two ads encouraged Latinos to get tested for the novel coronavirus and to answer the call when a county disease investigator or contact tracer calls them. – City News Service

County Reports 453 New COVID-19 Cases, Crosses Half-Million Testing Mark

– 4:10 p.m., Monday, July 20, 2020

San Diego County public health officials Monday announced 453 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of cases to 24,135, but no new deaths were reported.

Monday's number marked the fewest new cases since July 15, when there were 409, in what was the worst week since the start of the pandemic. Between July 13-19, the county also reported the most hospitalizations — 163 — and the most deaths — 56 — in any one-week span since COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S. in March.

The number of coronavirus fatalities remained unchanged at 478 on Monday.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox said he understands the frustration with wearing masks, social distancing and other precautions aimed at keeping the virus from spreading, "but refusing to take these steps is just going to prolong" the situation.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, had a similar message.

"We implore you to not wait for someone you care about to lose the fight against COVID-19 before you take action," she said.

Wooten said the massive spike in cases began to occur after bars, hotels and gyms reopened on June 12.

Nearly 1,200 new cases were logged over the weekend, and of the 7,884 tests reported Monday, 6% were positive — about the 14-day rolling average. The state's target is below 8%.

The county has now recorded more than 500,000 total COVID-19 tests.

While no new community outbreaks were identified Monday, in the past seven days there have been 16. The number of community outbreaks — defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households — remains more than double the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

A total of 107 community outbreaks have been reported since the pandemic began, with 33 in June and 47 so far this month.

Of the total positive cases, 2,215 — or 9.2% — have been hospitalized and 575 — or 2.4% — have been admitted to an intensive care unit. As of Monday, 482 people with COVID-19 are hospitalized, 158 of them in intensive care units.

A total of 4,440 patients are in the county's hospitals, nearing the 80% bed occupancy of 4,902, which would raise some alarm bells as to the county's ability to handle COVID-19 case surges.

The percentage of San Diegans testing positive dropped from 157.2 per every 100,000 people on Sunday to 145.3, but remains well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000. – City News Service

San Diego County Records 453 new COVID-19 Cases

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, July 20, 2020

San Diego County is reporting 453 new COVID-19 cases, raising the cumulative total to 24,135, but the number of deaths remains unchanged at 478.

County Public Health Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

— City News Service

California Pushes Back Start Of Prep Sports

– 12:30 p.m., Monday, July 20, 2020

California's governing body for high school sports said Monday that the 2020-21 seasons will begin no earlier than December.

The California Interscholastic Federation said the normal fall, winter and spring sports seasons will be condensed into two seasons.

The federation set time frames for most playoffs and championships. Football will complete its playoffs and championships by mid-April. Actual regular season and playoff schedules will be set separately.

Decisions by state and local health authorities will determine whether games are actually played.

California is currently seeing soaring rates of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued strict guidelines that will require most of California’s 6.7 million K-12 students to at least start the coming school year with online classes. — Associated Press

Watch Live: Gov. Newsom Gives Update On State's Response To COVID-19

– 12 p.m., Monday, July 20, 2020

WATCH LIVE:

Live: Governor Newsom Gives Update On State's COVID-19 Response

San Diegans Can Begin Applying For COVID-19 Rental Assistance

– 11:19 a.m., Monday, June 20, 2020

Low-income San Diegans who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic can begin applying Monday for one-time emergency financial help to pay their rent.

The program, which the San Diego Housing Commission is administering for the city, will provide up to $4,000 per household to help eligible families and individuals pay past-due and upcoming rent.

Online applications will be accepted through Aug. 7. Payments are expected to be made beginning in mid-August and continuing through September and potentially into October.

"San Diego's rental assistance program will directly assist individuals and families struggling to make rent and help recover the financial loss of landlords," said City Councilman Chris Ward, who proposed San Diego's COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. "We have protected our unsheltered. We have supported our small businesses. Now we must meet our obligations to the renters of this city."

The council voted 9-0 on June 30 to authorize the expenditure of $15.1 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds for the emergency rental assistance program.

The public can apply for the program online. – City News Service

San Diego County Approaches 24,000 COVID-19 Cases After More Than 1,000 Reported Over Weekend

– 9:14 a.m., Monday, June 20, 2020

The San Diego County COVID-19 total sits short of the 24,000 mark after county public health officials reported 1,193 cases over the weekend.

Health officials reported 568 new cases Sunday but no new deaths, raising the county total to 23,682 cases while the death count remained at 478. The county reported 625 new cases on Saturday.

Of the 8,943 tests reported Sunday, 6% were positive new cases. The 14- day rolling average is now 6%. The state's target is below 8% positive test rate.

Three new community outbreak were identified on Saturday. In the past seven days, 16 community outbreaks were identified. The number of community outbreaks remains more than double the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Of the total positive cases, 2,180 — or 9.4% — have been hospitalized and 567 — or 2.5% — of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

A new record of 157.2 of every 100,000 San Diegans are testing positive for the illness as of Sunday's data, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000.

The last metric the county has failed to maintain is the percentage of cases that have been handled by a contact investigator within 24 hours of it being reported. There are more than 500 investigators employed by the county, and although 98% of all cases had been investigated in that time frame as recently as June 25, that rate dropped to a dismal 7% as of Saturday. The county metric is to reach 71% of new cases in a day's span. – City News Service

S.D. County Reports More Than 600 COVID-19 Cases For Second Time

– 6:05 p.m., Saturday, July 18, 2020

The number of daily COVID-19 cases in San Diego County has crossed 600 for the second time as the number of total cases rose to 23,114.

County public health officials reported 625 new cases Saturday and six additional deaths, raising the death count to 478.

Of the six deaths, four were women and two were men. They died between July 8 and 16 and ranged in age from 60 to mid-90s. All had underlying health conditions.

The county recorded 10,290 tests Saturday, 6% of which returned positive. Saturday's test numbers were the second-highest numbers reported, trailing only Friday's figures. The 14-day rolling average is now 6%. The state's target is below 8% positive test rate.

One new community outbreak was identified, in a healthcare setting on July 10. In the past seven days, 17 community outbreaks were identified. The number of community outbreaks remains more than double the trigger of seven or more in seven days.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Of the total positive cases, 2,180 — or 9.4% — have been hospitalized and 567 — or 2.5% — of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit. – City News Service

San Diego County Sets News Record With 634 New COVID-19 Cases In One Day

– 3 p.m., Friday, July 17, 2020

San Diego County set another daily record for new COVID-19 cases with 634 new cases reported, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 22,489.

There were an additional seven COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 472. Of the seven who died, all had underlying health conditions.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: County of San Diego, Emergency Operations Center

A line graph released July 17, 2020, shows COVID-19 totals and doubling time since Feb. 14, 2020.

There have been 2,154, or 9.6%, of cases that have required hospitalization. Of those, 562 or 2.5% of all cases and 26.1% of hospitalized cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Health officials identified two new community outbreaks, both of them in restaurants. Over the week, 13 community outbreaks have been identified. The number of outbreaks remain above the trigger of seven or more in a week, meaning the county won't take any additional action at this time.

Over the past 24 hours, 9,224 COVID-19 tests were administered with 7% coming back positive. Over the past 14-days, the rolling average percentage of positive tests has been 6.1%. The goal is to keep that number under 8%.

The county averaged about 8,000 tests per day over the past week. – KPBS Staff

S.D. County Reports New Daily High in COVID-19 Deaths

– 4 p.m., Thursday, July 16, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported a record 17 COVID-19-related deaths and 409 new cases Thursday as they opened a new testing site in Imperial Beach.

The data raises the number of deaths to 465 and the number of cases to 21,855.

Of the deaths, 11 were men and six were women. They died between July 2 and July 15 and ranged in age from 51 to 90. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

The county recorded 10,434 tests Thursday, 4% of which were positive. The rolling 14-day average for positive tests is now 6%. The state's target is below 8% positive test rate. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 12 More COVID-19 Deaths; Officials Warn Of Health Effects

– 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, July 15, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 559 cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths from the illness Wednesday and a wave of indoor businesses were forced to close as cases of the illness continue to spike.

The new numbers raise the total number of cases to 21,446 and the number of deaths to 448. Of the 8,436 tests reported Wednesday, 7% returned positive, bringing the 14-day rolling average to 7.2%.

Four new community outbreaks were reported Wednesday, bringing the weekly total to 14 — well above the county's metric of no more than seven in a one-week span. The new outbreaks were reported in a laboratory, hair salon, barber shop and restaurant/bar.

A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Of the total positive cases, 2,093 — or 9.8% — have been hospitalized and 546 — or 2.5% — of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

About 147.2 of every 100,000 San Diegans are testing positive for the illness, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000 and the highest daily rate since the pandemic began.

The last metric the county has failed to maintain is the percentage of cases that have been handled by a contact investigator. Although there are more than 500 investigators currently employed by the county and 98% of all cases had been investigated as recently as June 25, that rate has dropped to a dismal 46%.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the San Diego County's public health officer, said as a response to these flagging rates, the county is attempting to hire more contact investigators. In just a three hour period after the job posting went online, more than 300 applications came in.

The number of cases continues to rise in people between the ages of 20 and 49 and particularly in people in their 20s, prompting the county to make efforts at educating younger people. — City News Service

Del Mar Cancels Weekend Racing Due To COVID-19 Among Jockeys

– 3:23 p.m., July 15, 2020

Del Mar canceled racing for the upcoming weekend after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19.

All the track’s riders and personnel who work in the jockeys’ room were tested by San Diego County public health officials at the request of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Of the 15 positive tests, all were believed to be asymptomatic.

"Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover,” track CEO Joe Harper said Wednesday.

Contact tracing procedures are underway. All but one of the riders who tested positive rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet in Orange County. The mass testing was ordered by the track after jockeys Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza tested positive. They are both quarantining at home. – Associated Press

WATCH: County Public Health Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

– 2:30 p.m., July 15, 2020

Poway Letting Fitness Groups, Churches To Use Parks During Closures

– 1:55 p.m., July 15, 2020

The Poway City Council Wednesday approved the temporary use of public parks for local fitness groups and worship activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a brief meeting, the council unanimously directed city staff to prepare applications for groups to use open space in the city's parks free of charge and with minimal paperwork.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus proposed the Sharing Outdoor Space Initiative after the state of California on Monday issued an order requiring all houses of worship, gyms and other fitness organizations to stop all indoor activities until further notice to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

The city will require that it be named as an "additional insured" on the organization's policy and "that all COVID-19 safety guidelines be adhered to, including rules regarding face coverings and social distancing."

The SOS Initiative is one of several actions the city has taken to help local businesses, including a moratorium on commercial evictions to help those affected by the virus' effect on the economy. — City News Service

Rite Aid Opening Five Drive-Through COVID-19 Testing Sites In San Diego County

— 1:11 p.m., July 15, 2020

Rite Aid is expanding its COVID-19 testing capacity with 161 new drive-through testing locations opening Thursday, including five in San Diego County.

Testing will be available by appointment for people 18 years of age or older, regardless of whether the person is experiencing symptoms, according to Rite Aid. Results are expected in three to five days, a company spokesperson said.

County locations providing testing starting Thursday are:

— 1665 Alpine Boulevard in Alpine;

— 1331 South Mission Road in Fallbrook;

— 7224 Broadway in Lemon Grove;

— 1201 South Coast Highway in Oceanside;

— and 28535 Cole Grade Road in Valley Center. — City News Service

SD Council Approves Mayor's Plan to Expand Street Restaurants, Retail

– 4:55 p.m., July 14, 2020

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to support Mayor Kevin Faulconer's plan to expand outdoor dining and retail options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vote follows Faulconer's July 7 executive order that waived requirements for the temporary use of sidewalks and private parking lots as outdoor dining and retail venues to increase space for physical distancing. Tuesday's vote allows businesses to use adjacent on-street parking to operate while also waiving a majority of permitting fees.

"Our local restaurant and retail owners have shown incredible resolve and resilience throughout this pandemic. Many of those small businesses have been among the hardest hit and San Diegans are ready to support them safely and responsibly," Faulconer said. "The response we've seen to outdoor dining has been overwhelmingly positive, and this ordinance opens up so many more options for our small businesses as they work hard to rebound and recover."

The plan is expected to impact up to 4,000 restaurants in San Diego that employ more than 55,000 individuals.

Previously, securing an outdoor sidewalk cafe permit could cost businesses more than $1,000 and take several months to process. This ordinance will help reduce applicant costs and the review process. — City News Service

Indoor Operations to Halt at Midnight at Various S.D. County Businesses

– 4:30 p.m., July 14, 2020

San Diego County reported 539 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths Tuesday, as indoor operations at various businesses throughout the county prepared to close at midnight.

The new data raise the region's totals to 20,887 cases and 436 deaths. Of the 7,246 tests reported Tuesday, 7% returned positive, slightly above the county's rolling 14-day positive test average of 6.2%.

Of the 14 deaths, six were women and eight men. They died between July 2 and July 13 and ranged in age from mid-40s to late 80s. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

Three new community outbreaks were reported Tuesday, bringing the weekly total to 15 -- still well above the county's metric of no more than seven in a one-week span. The new outbreaks were reported in a restaurant/bar, place of worship and a private residence.

A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and in people of different households.

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom's updated health order Monday, all indoor operations will halt at midnight Tuesday in gyms, houses of worship, non- critical office businesses, hair salons and barber shops, indoor malls and personal care services, such as massage businesses and tattoo parlors.

Of the total positive cases, 2,073 or 9.9% have been hospitalized and 541 or 2.6% of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

About 137 of every 100,000 San Diegans are testing positive for the illness, well above the state's criterion of 100 per 100,000. Total COVID-19 hospitalizations have inched up over the last several weeks and now sit at 467,159, of which 159 are in intensive care units. — City News Service

San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Rise To 20,348

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County passed 20,000 Monday as health officials prepared for major changes in the way the region will handle the pandemic.

The number of cases is now at 20,348 and the death toll remains at 422 countywide. Of the 6,542 tests reported Monday, 6% returned positive, in line with the 14-day rolling average.

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom's updated health order Monday, all indoor operations in gyms, houses of worship, non-critical office businesses, hair salons and barber shops, indoor malls and personal care services such as massage businesses and tattoo parlors will need to cease at midnight Tuesday.

Additionally, the smoke from the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego could cause potential health problems for those most susceptible to COVID-19, including the elderly and those with heart or lung conditions, health officials said. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher asked residents who smell smoke or experience eye irritation to remain indoors with doors and windows closed and to avoid strenuous exercise.

Nick Macchione, San Diego County's director of the Health and Human Services Agency offered some more bad news Monday when he reported the county's COVID-19 testing capacity was stretched to its limit. Local biotechnology company Helix did announce a partnership with the county to provide 2,000 tests a day with a 24-hour turnaround for the foreseeable future, but supplies both locally and nationally remain critically low.

– 2:30 p.m., Monday, July 13, 2020

Newsom Orders Closure Of Indoor Activity At Gyms, Salons, Churches

– 12:00 p.m., Monday, July 13, 2020

Citing rising rates of people testing positive for the coronavirus and jumps in hospitalizations, Gov. Gavin Newsom today ordered the closure of indoor operations at gyms, hair salons, houses of worship, personal-care services, malls and non-critical office settings.

The order affects all 30 counties on the state's pandemic monitoring list — including San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.

Newsom also ordered the statewide closure of indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, family entertainment centers and card rooms — and the full closure of all bars. Those restrictions were already in place in counties on the state's monitoring list, but the new order extended them statewide.

Newsom reiterated that the state's enactment of health-restrictions was being handled with a "dimmer switch," meaning the severity of the orders can be adjusted upward or downward based on the latest virus statistics and "trendlines."

The state has been seeing record numbers of infections in recent days, along with increasing hospitalizations. As of Monday, Newsom said 6,485 were hospitalized across the state due to the coronavirus. The seven-day rolling average of people testing positive for the virus was 7.7%, Newsom said.

"This virus is not going away anytime soon," Newsom said. "I hope all of us recognize that if we were still connected to some notion that somehow when it gets warm it's going to go away or somehow it's going to take summer months or weekends off, this virus has done neither. You've seen parts of the country with very hot ... weather where you're seeing an increase in positivity rates, an increase in hospitalizations and ICUs. Here in the state of California as we're seeing triple-digit weather in many parts of our state, we're still seeing an increase in the positivity rate, the community transmission. We're seeing an increase in the spread of the virus."

– City News Service

San Diego Unified Cites ‘Skyrocketing Infection’ In Decision To Remain Closed, Classes To Stay Online

– 11:22 a.m., Monday, July 13, 2020

San Diego Unified School District campuses will remain closed when the district resumes classes Aug. 31, with all courses remaining online only, the district announced Monday.

The decision was made due to a lack of complete guidelines for safely reopening the campuses amid the pandemic, the district said in a press release.

"Unfortunately, much of the research is incomplete and many of the guidelines are vague and contradictory,” the statement reads. “One fact is clear: those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control."

Here is the district's reopening plan for the fall:

– The school year will resume on schedule.

– Teachers will receive expanded training in online education to better meet the needs of students.

– Students will receive additional training at the start of the year to become better online learners.

– Online support for parents will be increased to make it easier for them to participate in the education of their students.

– Principals will continue customized planning for the safest possible reopening this fall.

– Free meals will continue to be provided at the current distribution stations.

– KPBS Staff

San Diego County Reports 558 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5:13 p.m., July 12, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 558 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths, raising the region's totals to 19,929 cases and the death count remaining at 422.

Of the 8,505 tests reported Saturday, 7% were positive new cases. The 14-day rolling average for positive tests is 6.1%. The target is less than 8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 7,853.

Of the total positive cases, 2,036 or 10.2% have been hospitalized and 535 or 2.7% of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

Two new community outbreaks, one in a healthcare setting and the other in a restaurant-bar, were reported Saturday, bringing the total over the past week to 18, more than double the trigger of seven or more in seven days. A community setting outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting and people from different households. – City News Service

More Than 500 New COVID-19 Cases Reported, Two Deaths

– 4:45 p.m., July 11, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 508 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths Saturday, raising the region's totals to 19,371 cases and 422 deaths.

Two women died, one on July 8, the other died on July 9, officials said. Their ages ranged from early 70s to mid-80s. Both had existing chronic conditions.

Of the 8,292 tests reported Friday, 6% were positive new cases. The 14- day rolling average for positive tests is 6%. The target is less than 8%. The 7-day daily average of tests is 7,795. – City News Service

COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise In San Diego County

– 4:00 p.m., Friday, July 10, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 461 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths Friday, raising the region's totals to 18,863 cases and 420 deaths.

Four men and one woman died on July 8. Their ages ranged from the late 60s to 100 and all had underlying health conditions.

Of the 8,423 tests reported Friday, 5% were positive. The 14-day rolling average for positive tests is now 5.9% and the average daily number of tests reported over the past week is 7,656. A total of 419,867 tests have been completed in the county.

Of the total positive cases, 2,002 or 10.6% have been hospitalized and 529 or 2.8% of cases have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

An additional three community outbreaks were reported Friday, bringing the total over the past week to 18, more than double the county's metric of seven community-based outbreaks in a week's span. A community outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a setting from different households.

The outbreaks were traced to a business, restaurant and healthcare setting.

More than 75% of the community outbreaks have been traced to restaurants and bars, and 45 community outbreaks remain active, tied to 137 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday's data.

An additional 23 outbreaks have been traced to skilled nursing facilities and 27 to other nursing facilities.

– City News Service

Total County COVID-19 Cases Cross 18,000 As Daily Count Reaches 500 Again

San Diego County public health officials reported 560 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths Thursday, raising the county's totals to 18,402 cases and 415 deaths.

Of the 8,950 tests reported Wednesday, 6% returned positive. A total of 411,444 tests have been completed in the county. An average of 7,497 tests have been reported in the last week, and the 14-day rolling average for tests returning positive is 6%.

Of the nine people whose deaths were reported Thursday, five were men and four women. They died between June 27 and July 7 and ranged in age from 50 to 89. All but one had underlying medical conditions.

A record-high 578 cases, a 10% positive test rate and 12 deaths were reported Tuesday. – City News Service

State Announces New Procedures, Equipment For Fighting Wildfires During COVID-19

– 1:54 p.m., July 9, 2020

The state has procured new equipment, technology and procedures for suppressing wildfires during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.

Despite California’s $54 billion budget deficit, the state was able to make investments in new fire fighting equipment and personnel, he said. Some investments include: $285 million in Black Hawk helicopters, $5 million for 180 wildfire cameras, $25 million for an innovation sprint for new technology, and $85.6 million in a new, permanent workforce for Cal Fire.

There would be fewer California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation fire crews on the ground this year, Newsom said, because of some being exposed to COVID-19 or testing positive for the virus. Of the 192 CDCR crews, 94 are currently available.

WATCH: Gov. Newsom to give update on state's wildfire preparedness amid COVID-19 pandemic

The number of California Conservation Corps fire crews would also be fewer, but not as impacted as CDCR crews, Newsom said.

Any future evacuations of the public related to wildfires will be different because of the coronavirus pandemic. Potential shelters related to wildfire evacuations might be in hotels instead of traditional shelters.

Temperature checks and mask wearing will be required, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services. Social distancing procedures will be in place and military field rations, such as meals ready to eat (MRE) instead of buffet style feeding.

New procedures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus among Cal Fire staff will be implemented as well, officials announced. This includes social distancing for mealtimes and increased PPE.

Cal Fire chief Thom Porter also asked the public to do their part and wear masks during evacuations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Newsom also announced the state would have increased oversight of Pacific Gas & Electric, whose neglect in maintaining transmission towers contributed to the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state to date.

Photo caption:

Photo by Cal Fire

Cal Fire chief Thom Porter provides an update on the state's plans for fight wildfires during the coronavirus pandemic. July 9, 2020.

The utility company was able to come out of bankruptcy July 1, he said, with “new accountability.” This includes increased vegetation management to mitigate fires and underground wires. In addition, 11 of the 14 PG&E board members have been replaced, the governor said.

PG&E pleaded guilty in June to 84 separate counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawfully starting a fire in a case stemming from the 2018 conflagration that burned down the town of Paradise in Northern California.

As of Thursday morning, there were 7,031 new cases of COVID-19 in California and both a 7.3% positivity rate for the 7-day and 14-day averages, Newsom said. Hospitalizations went up 0.4% Wednesday with ICU going down 0.1%. –Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

San Diego County Reports 264 New COVID-19 Cases, 7 New Deaths

– 4:01 p.m., July 8, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 264 new COVID-19 cases and seven new deaths Wednesday, for a total of 17,842 cases and 406 deaths.

Three community outbreaks became inactive, but five new outbreaks have been reported, for a total of 24 active outbreaks in seven days, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer. The new outbreaks occurred in a restaurant, a health care facility, a gym, a daycare, and a resort/spa.

San Diego County Health Officials Give Update On COVID-19, July 8, 2020

Hospitalizations are increasing in San Diego County, Wooten said, but the number of ICU patients has remained consistent. COVID-19-related ICU hospitalizations currently total 166.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said 7,607 tests conducted Tuesday, which he noted is slightly above the seven-day average of 7,434 daily tests.

Board of Supervisors chairman Greg Cox said the Board voted Tuesday on a spending plan for $48.8 million in COVID-relief funds. The plan includes $25 million for child care providers and $5 million for testing in public schools. The remaining $18.8 million is expected to fund possible testing at the border and food services, which may include an expansion of a senior meal program.

Cox said that the funding will be split between each county district, which will decide where money will be allocated within the district. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

State Adds Yolo, Napa, and San Benito Counties To State’s Watchlist

– 1:35 p.m., July 8, 2020

Three more counties were added to the state’s watchlist: Yolo, Napa and San Benito, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. There are now a total 26 counties on the list, including San Diego, which was added Monday.

There were a total of 11,694 COVID-19 case numbers reported in the state Tuesday and a 7.1% positivity rate over a 14-day period, Newsom said. The higher than usual case number was because this included a backlog of tests reported from labs in Los Angeles County, he said. Other states had seen higher positivity rates, but Newsom noted California’s is still concerning.

COVID-19 ICU admissions are increasing in California. Hospitalizations are 44% over the last two weeks, Newsom said. There are currently 1,753 ICU admissions and 3,908 ICU beds available for a total of 11,313 ICU and NICU beds in California.

Photo caption:

Photo by Office of the Governor of California

Twenty-six counties were added to California's watch list, Gov. Newsom announced Wednesday. July 8, 2020.

Hospitalizations are still only at 8% capacity, but that could change, the governor said.

“We’re preparing to surge, we’re going to surge differently this time,” said Carmela Coyle, the head of the California Hospital Association.

The hospitals are looking to use new therapeutics instead of putting more patients on ventilators, she said. One of these includes remdesivir, which has been shown to reduce hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.

The main drivers of recent COVID-19 hospitalizations are not enough people wearing masks and physical distancing, increased mixing of households, prison and jail outbreaks, and essential workplace outbreaks, Newsom said. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS web producer

Mayor Faulconer Signs Order Waiving Outdoor Permits

– 4:30 p.m., July 7, 2020

With indoor dining prohibited at San Diego County restaurants in response to a spike in local COVID-19 cases, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed an emergency executive order Tuesday waiving permits and other regulatory requirements, allowing restaurants to expand their services onto outdoor spaces like sidewalks and private parking lots.

WATCH here:

Indoor dining will be closed for at least the next three weeks after the county remained on the state's monitoring list for three consecutive days, leading all indoor operations to be halted at a variety of businesses, including restaurants, where county health officials say many of the recent outbreaks occurred.

Faulconer said his executive order — which goes into effect immediately — gives restaurants the ability to create sidewalk cafes without a permit and use their parking lots for outdoor dining. Enforcement of municipal codes that would typically prohibit such operations will be suspended. *— City News Service

Museum Of Photographic Arts To Close Until After Labor Day

– 4:20 p.m., July 7, 2020

Just days after reopening for the July Fourth weekend, the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts announced Tuesday it would close until after Labor Day.

Museums were among those businesses told to halt indoor activities by the state and by local health authorities Monday. Although the updated public health order is theoretically in place for just three weeks, a museum statement cited the "uncertainty" of the coming weeks as the reason for the lengthy closure.

"MOPA supports all efforts to control the spread of COVID. Our top priority is the health of our MOPA team, patrons and visitors," said Deborah Klochko, executive director and chief curator at MOPA. "Although our galleries are closed, there are multiple ways for us to stay connected online. Find us online and learn with MOPA. Our philosophy is allowing people to deal critically with photos, video and the rest of the visual world."

The museum initially shuttered in March with other museums in Balboa Park and the rest of San Diego County. — City News Service

Amid Restaurant Shutdowns, Faulconer to Sign Order Waiving Outdoor Permits

– 11: 34 a.m., July 7, 2020

With county restaurants shuttered for indoor dining in response to a spike in local COVID-19 cases, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he will sign an emergency executive order Tuesday that will waive regulatory requirements, allowing restaurants to expand their service into outdoor spaces.

Indoor dining will be closed for at least the next three weeks after the county remained on the state's monitoring list for three consecutive days, leading all indoor operations to be halted at a variety of businesses, including restaurants, where county health officials say many of the recent outbreaks occurred.

– City News Service

San Diego County Health Officials Give Update On COVID-19

10:38 a.m., Tuesday, July 7, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

– KPBS Staff

County Orders Certain Businesses To Close Again To Stem Virus Spread

– 2:45 p.m., Monday, July 6, 2020

The San Diego County on Monday announced the closure of all indoor activities at a number of establishments for three weeks to comply with the state’s order to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier Monday, San Diego was among five counties added to the state watch list because the case rate exceeded 100 per 100,000 for three consecutive days. San Diego was placed on the state’s monitoring list on Friday.

WATCH LIVE here:

“The number continues to go in the wrong direction,” Supervisor Greg Cox said. The county reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases over the holiday weekend.

At midnight Monday night, the following businesses must close all indoor activities:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers (bowling alleys, miniature golf, arcades, etc.)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Card rooms

Outdoor activities, such as outdoor dining, are still permitted at these establishments.

On Monday, the county also reported 274 new cases for a total of 17,000 cases since the pandemic began. There were no new deaths reported. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

San Diego Placed On State’s Watch List

– 12:35 p.m., Monday, July 6, 2020

San Diego County was placed on the state’s watch list Monday, along with five other counties including Calusa, Madera, Marin, Merced and Monterey.

As of Monday, San Diego had a case rate of 129.3, according to data released by the state.

WATCH LIVE here:

Counties on the state’s watch list will need to shut down the following businesses for three weeks unless they can modify their operations to outdoors or for pick-up only:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers (bowling alleys, miniature golf, arcades, etc.)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Card rooms

Bars must close all operations.

San Diego was placed on the state’s monitoring list Friday because the case rate per 100,000 people in a two-week period was in excess of 100. Counties are placed on the state’s watch list if they are on the monitoring list for three or more days.

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said she expected the county to be placed on the watch list on Monday because of the increase in the number of positive cases in the county of late.

Sunday, the county reported 1,030 new positive COVID-19 cases over the holiday weekend.

— Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

San Diego City Says Not Given Enough Notice From State To Close July Fourth Beach Parking

–3:20 p.m., Saturday, July 4, 2020

San Diego's Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell said in a statement Saturday that California officials didn't give the city enough time to put in place a beach parking lot shutdown for the Fourth.

"The city of San Diego is closely following county guidance and working with health officials to encourage adherence to public health regulations,'' Michell said. "The request to regional coastal cities to close beach parking lots on the Fourth of July came last night just a few hours before the start of the holiday, leaving little time to enact, enforce or notify the public.”

The cities of Carlsbad and Oceanside said Saturday they are complying with the emergency services request. In addition to closing its beach parking lots, Carlsbad lifeguards and police officers will be providing masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the city-owned beach, north of Oak Avenue to the Oceanside border.

Imperial Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas officials said Saturday their beach parking lots remain open. –City News Service

Catholic Bishop Suspends Reopening Public Masses in Imperial County this Weekend

— 3:44 p.m., Saturday, June 27, 2020

San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert W. McElroy announced he’s suspending reopening public masses in Imperial County Saturday, June 27. The decision comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended that Imperial County reinstitute stay-at-home orders due to the county’s high rate of COVID-19 infections.

“We will keep our faithful informed about when we plan to resume our public Masses. In the meantime, we encourage them to continue to join us in the live-transmissions of our Masses,” McElroy said in a statement.

— Lara McCaffrey, KPBS/Web producer

San Diego County Reports 436 New Cases, 5 Percent Positive Rate And 2 New Deaths

— 3:15 p.m., Saturday, June 27, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 436 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in the county to 12,837. Of the 9,172 tests reported to the county Friday, 5 percent were positive, with a 14-day rolling average positive test rate of 3.5 percent. 320,041 total tests have been recorded in the county since testing began.

This is the second day in a row that cases have topped 400.

In the seven day window, six community outbreaks have been identified. Seven outbreaks inside of the window would trigger action for the county's reopening plan.

Of the total positive cases, 1,730 (13.5 percent) have required hospitalization and 435 (3.7 percent) have resulted in intensive care. Currently, 410 hospital beds are in use for COVID-19 related patients, and COVID patients occupy 166 ICU beds.

Two new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 360 lives lost in San Diego county.

— Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts editor

Governor Asks Imperial County To Reimpose Stay-At-Home Order

– 1:30 p.m., June 26, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom Friday said the spread of the coronavirus in Imperial County has become so bad he's advising officials to reinstitute a stay-at-home order. And if they don't he may do it himself.

Imperial County has a population of 175,000 people on the state’s border with Mexico. It has been the slowest in the state to reopen amid continued high positivity rates.

Newsom said Imperial County supervisors will meet over the coming days to determine what steps will be taken.

"We are advising and counseling them to move forward and reinstitute the stay-at-home order. If they are not able to come to some consensus I am committed to intervening," he said. "But I am confident in their capacity to make that determination for themselves."

Statewide, California is seeing a "positivity rate" in their covid testing of 5.3 percent over the past 14 days. In Imperial County, nearly 23 percent of Covid-19 tests have come back positive.

The Imperial Valley, which provides many of the vegetables in U.S. supermarkets in the winter, lies across the border from Mexicali, a sprawling industrial city of 1 million people that has enormous influence on its economy and culture.

WATCH here:

Newsom also said that statewide there were small increases in the percentages of people hospitalized and in ICUs, he said.

San Francisco announced it was “temporarily delaying” plans to reopen barber shops, tattoo parlors, outdoor bars and nail salons on Monday.

Mayor London Breed noted the city reported 103 additional cases overnight, unusual for San Francisco, and she said public health experts will evaluate data to determine if it’s safe to move ahead.

“I know people are anxious to reopen — I am too. But we can’t jeopardize the progress we’ve made,” she wrote on social media. — Associated Press

Riverside County Reports 237 Coronavirus Cases, The Lowest Increase This Week

– 4:50 p.m., June 25, 2020

Riverside County health officials Thursday reported three COVID-19 deaths and 237 newly confirmed infections, marking the lowest one-day case increase in a week and a half and following by two days the largest one-day uptick since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Total known infections stand at 15,142, with the death toll at 435, according to the Riverside University Health System.

The RUHS data showed 311 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in county hospitals, three fewer than Wednesday, but the number being treated in intensive care units was up by three to 95.

The 237 cases reported Thursday represent the lowest daily increase since June 15, when 177 cases were reported. On Tuesday, officials reported 631 new cases, the largest one-day increase since the pandemic began in March.

The number of documented patient recoveries is 7,272.

Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that 10 to 15 patients a day are being transferred from Imperial County, which is battling a major outbreak, to Riverside County and surrounding jurisdictions. However, fewer than a dozen of those patients are currently in medical facilities within Riverside County. — City News Service

Health Officials Report Cver 300 New COVID-19 Cases For 4th Time In 5 Days

– 4:40 p.m., June 25, 2020

San Diego County public health authorities reported over 300 new COVID-19 cases for the fourth time in five days as the case total in the county neared the 12,000 mark.

Health officials reported 335 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday -- a new daily high and the third new high mark in a week -- and five deaths, raising the county totals to 11,961 cases and 347 deaths.

After 310, 302 and 332 new cases were reported on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday — representing an above-average percentage of positive cases to total tests performed — the numbers rose yet again Thursday, with 4% of tests returning positive. The county reported 9,472 tests Thursday.

The five deaths reported Thursday were five men who died between June 16 and 23, ranging in age from their early 40s to early 80s -- all of whom had underlying health conditions.

A "modest uptick" in the number of hospitalizations and ICU visits also has officials worried.

Another community outbreak was reported Thursday in a business, raising the number reported in the last week to seven — above the threshold the county set in a set of 13 "triggers" announced earlier this month.

Community-transmitted COVID-19 outbreaks activated one of those triggers last Thursday, placing a pause on any additional openings allowed by the state. — City News Service

MTS Expanding Bus Routes To Near Pre-Pandemic Levels

– 3:20 p.m., June 25, 2020

Starting Sunday, the Metropolitan Transit System will increase frequency and span of service on 40 of its 95 bus routes to accommodate growing demand for transit and help with physical distancing when possible.

This increase puts service near pre-COVID-19 levels. The agency reduced its service by 25% in April due to the pandemic.

A full list of all the route changes can be found on the June Service Changes webpage. – City News Service

Unemployment Decreases Across San Diego County, But Still Nearly 16%

– 3:12 p.m., June 25, 2020

Unemployment numbers continue to decrease across San Diego County from a high of 25% in May, a report released Thursday from the San Diego Association of Governments found.

The region's unemployment rate is estimated to be 15.9%, the SANDAG report found, 1.8% lower than the previous week and 9.1% lower than this time last month.

According to the report, the number of unemployed people in the county began to drop when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state was moving into Stage 2 of his four-stage reopening roadmap on May 8. The report also credits local politicians for getting people back to work. – City News Service

Landmark Hotel Del Coronado To Open Friday At Reduced Capacity

– 2:56 p.m., June 25, 2020

The historic Hotel del Coronado plans to reopen Friday, hotel management announced this week, ending the first closure in the hotel's 132-year history.

The famous red-roofed hotel on Coronado Island's Orange Avenue closed with other hotels in late March as the COVID-19 pandemic reached San Diego.

Hotels have started to reopen in June, following state and county public health guidelines. The Hotel del Coronado, a major tourist attraction, will reopen with limited amenities and reduced occupancy.

The luxury villas the Beach Village at The Del will also open Friday. The hotel's main pool and Cabana guestrooms will remain closed until at least July 19 until upgrades are completed. – City News Service

WATCH: Gov. Newsom To Give Update On State’s Response To Coronavirus

– 12 p.m., June 25, 2020

County Reports 332 New COVID-19 Cases, 6 More Deaths

– 2:30 p.m, June 24, 2020

WATCH here:

San Diego County on Wednesday reported 332 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths, raising the county totals to 11,626 cases and 347 deaths.

California Counties Could Lose Coronavirus Funds

– 1:52 p.m., June 24, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that he will withhold $2.5 billion in the upcoming state budget to penalize counties that fail to comply with state mandates on wearing masks, testing and other measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases and decrease hospitalizations.

The money is intended to help local governments pay for services needed because of the pandemic. But it’s contingent upon counties following emergency orders to enforce the safety measures as they gradually reopen the economy.

WATCH here:

Newsom’s warning came as the state recorded a 69% increase in new cases just this week, and set several daily records for new cases. Officials reported corresponding increases in the rate of people testing positive and hospitalizations.

The Democratic governor said he views the $2.5 billion fund in the budget that lawmakers are expected to approve this week as a reward, not a punishment for local government. — Associated Press

Riverside County Reports Largest Daily Increase In Coronavirus Infections

– 5 p.m., June 23, 2020

Riverside County health officials Tuesday announced 631 newly confirmed coronavirus cases -- the largest one-day uptick in reported infections since the pandemic began — as well as seven additional deaths and a jump in hospitalizations.

The latest numbers bring the case total to 14,431 and the death toll to 431.

According to the Riverside University Health System, 315 people are hospitalized countywide due to COVID-19 — an increase of 17 compared to Monday — with 90 of those patients in intensive care units, up from 87.

Some of the patients are from Mexico and Imperial County, where large outbreaks have occurred, according to the Emergency Management Department.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that Riverside is one of 11 counties the state is watching due to coronavirus caseload increases. San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Imperial, Santa Barbara, Kern, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties were also listed. — City News Service

Supervisors OK Proposal To Seek State Guidance On Reopening Planned Events

– 3:30 p.m., June 23, 2020

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to request guidance from the state on allowing resumption of several activities, including private planned events, wedding receptions, hotel conferences, street fairs and team competitions.

In a letter to be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the county will also seek guidance on reopening playgrounds.

Supervisor Jim Desmond made the proposal after the board was updated on the county's efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Any reopening of those industries, he and other board members said, would only happen with the blessing of Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

He added that while the county must take note of an uptick in community outbreaks, it "can't have a blanket stop on the economy." — City News Service

Chula Vista Cancels July 4 Plans, Reminds Residents Fireworks Are Illegal

– 1:50 p.m., June 23, 2020

Chula Vista officials announced Tuesday that the city will not host its customary events for the Fourth of July this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including its 4thFest and fireworks show.

Additionally, the Chula Vista Firefighters Foundation will not be holding its annual pancake breakfast on July 4, and the city will not allow any block parties for the foreseeable future.

City offices will be closed on Friday, July 3 and trash pick-up in the city will not be affected by the holiday.

The Chula Vista Fire Department reminded residents that private use of fireworks in San Diego County is against the law. All types of fireworks are illegal, including firecrackers, sparklers, bottle rockets, M-80s, roman candles, cherry bombs, snappers and poppers.

"Also, be aware that transporting fireworks into the United States from Mexico or any other location carries a penalty of fines, and/or imprisonment," a statement from the city said.

Those who wish to report unauthorized use of fireworks can call the Chula Vista Police Department dispatch non-emergency line at 619-691-5151. — City News Service

Miramar Air Show Canceled In Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

– 4:45 p.m., June 22, 2020

The 2020 Miramar Air Show that had been scheduled for Sept. 25-27 has been canceled due to public health risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Monday.

"While we had initially hoped to host the show and help usher in a reopened San Diego, there are still a great many risks posed with a mass gathering of this size and scale to do it in a way that ensures our guests absolute safety," said Col. Charles Dockery, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. "It remains a prudent choice to look ahead to 2021 and make it better than ever."

The largest military air show in the world is typically one of the largest single public events in San Diego, drawing more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts from around the world. — City News Service

San Diego Reports 10 Active Outbreaks, 302 New COVID-19 Cases

– 3:45 p.m., June 22, 2020

San Diego County health officials Monday reported 302 new COVID-19 infections, raising the cumulative total to 11,096 cases, while the death toll remained unchanged at 338.

The 302 new cases represent the second-largest increase since the pandemic began and 5% of the 5,831 tests reported Monday. The largest increase in cases yet came on Sunday, when 310 tests, or 7% of that day's tests, were reported as positive.

WATCH here:

The numbers are concerning to public health officials, who had praised San Diego County for avoiding the brunt of the pandemic's ill effects so far.

"The message here is very clear," said county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. "The dangers from coronavirus are real."

Another three community outbreaks were reported Monday, raising the number reported in the last week to 10 — the most in any week's span since the pandemic began in early March. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Urges Mask Use As Hospitalizations Rise

– 12 p.m., June 22, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom implored people Monday to wear face coverings to protect against the coronavirus and allow businesses to safely open after several days in which the state saw its highest virus hospitalizations and number of infections to date.

In a bid to reach not only supporters but also his critics, Newsom released a video campaign promoting the use of masks featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and three other former California governors.

WATCH here:

Taking off his mask as he began his press briefing, Newsom touted the importance of opening businesses to ensure the health of California's economy while warning that if health conditions grow dire, the state could be forced to shut them back down.

“We don’t intend to do that, we don’t want to do that,” Newsom said. “But I want to make this clear we are prepared to do that if we must.”

California is trying to balance the need to reopen businesses and sustain the livelihood of its nearly 40 million people while simultaneously protecting them from the virus. In recent weeks, the state released detailed guidelines for how settings ranging from fitness centers and day camps to restaurants and museums can do so safely, but last week imposed a new mask requirement that Newsom said takes precedence over the earlier recommendations.

Californians are now required to wear facial coverings in most indoor settings and outdoors when it's not possible to stay 6 feet apart. There are exceptions for children ages 2 and under and people with health conditions. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 310 New Cases, No New Deaths

— 4:20 p.m., June 21, 2020

San Diego County officials reported 310 new COVID-19 cases in the county Sunday and no new deaths.

The new cases emerged from 4,413 tests taken on Saturday. Saturday’s positive test rate was 7%, which is more than double the current rolling 14-day positive test average of 2.8%..

The total number of cases in the county now stands at 10,794. Of the total cases, 1,619 (15%) have resulted in hospitalization and 449 (4.2%) have required intensive care. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of at least 338 people in San Diego County, according to the county’s data.

No new community outbreaks were announced Sunday, but seven outbreaks remain within the seven-day community outbreak trigger metric established by the county. This means the county has reached with threshold where officials could slow, or even stop, planned reopenings.

— Laura McVicker, KPBS Social Media Strategist

San Diego County Reports 134 New Cases, 6 New Deaths

— 3:50 p.m., Saturday, June 20, 2020

County health officials announced on Saturday an increase of 134 COVID-19 cases in the region, bringing the total to 10,484. This is from 5,594 tests reported yesterday, for a 2 percent positive rate. The 14-day rolling average is now at 2.5 percent.

Of the total cases, 1,604 (15.3 percent) have resulted in hospitalization and 443 (4.2 percent) have required intensive care.

Six new deaths have been reported, bringing the total deaths for the region to 338. Of the six, three were women and three were men, all between the ages of early 40s to late 80s. Four had underlying health conditions.

No new community outbreaks were announced Saturday, but seven outbreaks remain within the seven-day community outbreak trigger metric. Seven outbreaks is the threshold for affecting the steps the county is taking to reopen.

RELATED: County Promises Enforcement Of COVID-19 Rules, Some Restaurants Applaud Move

— Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts editor

SDSU Student Tests Positive For COVID-19

– Saturday, June 20, 1:50 p.m.

San Diego State University has announced that one of its students who lived on campus has tested positive for COVID-19. In an email to staff and students living on campus, the university said the student had not been on campus or in their residence hall for more than a week, and is recovering well at home. The student is not being identified.

In the email, SDSU Student Health Services Director Libby Skiles wrote that the university was notified of the case late Friday, and it was confirmed by county health officials on Saturday. “Based on public health guidelines, any risk to the campus community is deemed very low. This message is, however, being shared out of an abundance of caution and in alignment with SDSU's COVID-19 Case Communications Protocol,” Skiles wrote.

There are currently 95 students living on campus. Skiles also urged the campus community to monitor their health and well-being through June 26. – Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

New Daily High of COVID-19 Cases Reported, Matching New High in Testing

– 5 p.m., June 19, 2020

A flurry of businesses reopened Friday throughout San Diego County as health officials reported 258 new COVID-19 cases and one death, raising the region's totals to 10,350 cases and 332 deaths.

For the second day in a row, the new cases set a daily high, but accordingly, the number of COVID-19 tests reported Friday also reached a daily high, with 10,544 tests reported. The death was a woman in her early 80s who died on June 17 and had underlying health conditions.

The 258 cases comprised just 2% of those tests reported Friday, but community-transmitted COVID-19 outbreaks have activated one of the county's public health triggers, placing a pause on any additional openings allowed by the state.

The businesses scheduled to open Friday, including personal care businesses like skincare and waxing salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists and nail salons — were still allowed to open. – City News Service

County Stepping Up Enforcement After 8th Community Outbreaks In 7 Days

– 4 p.m., June 18, 2020

There were eight community outbreaks of coronavirus in San Diego within seven days, the county announced Thursday, “triggering” a set back on the county’s reopening plan.

The threshold for the trigger is seven community outbreaks in seven days. Community outbreaks are defined as three or more cases at the same location that are not linked to each other.

As a result, the county is stepping up targeted enforcement on entities that are not complying with the public health orders, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

“If we see individual entities that are specifically very egregiously adhering to the orders, we could step in as we did with the restaurants some number of months ago,” he said.

WATCH here:

El Prez, a sports bar and restaurant in Pacific Beach was ordered closed May 22, a day after reopening for violating social distancing order.

The county will also take a pause on the state's recommendations on future reopenings "until we have greater sense of period of time and observation to understand what's going on," Fletcher said.

Businesses such as nail salons, skincare and waxing salons, and tattoo and massage parlors set to reopen this Friday can still reopen. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

Newsom Orders Californians To Wear Masks In Most Settings

– 1:30 p.m., June 18, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday ordered all residents to wear face coverings in almost all settings outside their homes to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered, putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease," Newsom said in a statement announcing the order. "California's strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing."

The statewide mandate requires residents to wear masks in "high-risk situations," which cover virtually all scenarios outside the home. It specifically requires them:

  • inside or in line to enter any indoor public space;
  • while obtaining health services at locations including a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic or blood bank;
  • while waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;
  • in the workplace while interacting with people or in areas where food is being prepared, in common areas such as hallways and elevators and parking structures; and
  • in outdoor public spaces when it is not feasible to maintain six feet of distance from people outside your own household.

The following individuals are exempt from wearing a face-covering:

  • Children aged two and under;
  • Persons with a medical, mental health, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the service;
  • Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence;
  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others;
  • Persons who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails, as part of their mitigation plans, will have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings of masks for both inmates and staff.

"Science shows that face coverings and masks work," Newsom said. "They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy."— City News Service

Four More COVID-19 Deaths Reported In San Diego

– 3:30 p.m., June 17, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego County on Wednesday reported 124 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths, raising the county totals to 9,854 cases and 327 deaths.

Dew Tour Skateboard Competition In SoCal Postponed Until May 2021

– 11:15 a.m., June 17, 2020

Mountain Dew and the Carlsbad-based Adventure Sports Network announced Wednesday that they have postponed their annual summer Dew Tour skateboard competition and festival in Long Beach until May 2021 due to the coronavirus.

The decision was made in light of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. The Olympics will now be held from July 23-August 8, 2021.

The Dew Tour skateboard competition will serve as the last Olympic qualifying event in the United States before the Tokyo games. Exact event dates have not yet been determined.

In June 2019, Dew Tour served as the first global Olympic qualifying event in the U.S. for men's and women's skateboard street and park competitions.

"Postponing the Dew Tour Long Beach weekend until 2021 is the best decision to ensure the safety of our athletes, fans, partners, vendors and staff during these unprecedented times," said Courtney Gresik, Dew Tour vice president and general manager. "The Dew Tour remains committed to the progression of skateboarding, furthering awareness and appreciation of the sport as we lead up to the 2021 Olympic Games." — City News Service

San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Increase to 9,730

– 4:30 p.m., June 16, 2020

San Diego County health officials on Tuesday reported 120 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths from the illness, bring the county's totals to 9,730 cases and 323 deaths.

The three deaths were women ranging in age from their late 60s to early 90s and all had underlying health conditions.

A total of 4,838 COVID-19 tests were reported Tuesday, with 2% testing positive. The rolling 14-day average for positive tests remains 2.9%.

Among those testing positive, a total of 1,543 cases in the county have required hospitalization and 432 had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. — City News Service

Schools Throughout San Diego County Allowed To Hold In-Person Classes

6:55 a.m., June 16, 2020

Public, charter and private schools in San Diego County may hold in-person classes starting Tuesday, as reopenings continue throughout the region.

Updated county health orders took effect today, allowing all schools — with the exception of colleges and universities — to hold on-campus classes as long as the schools comply with measures outlined by the California Department of Public Health. Those measures include face coverings required at all times, daily temperature checks recommended, increased emphasis on hand washing and sanitizing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in the classrooms and setting classrooms up to allow for increased physical distance between students.

Each school must complete and post a document detailing the actions the school is taking to comply with the industry guidance issued by the state. — City News Service

170 New COVID-19 Cases, 1 New Deaths Reported In San Diego

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, June 15, 2020

Some restrictions on outdoor religious services were lifted Monday by San Diego County officials, who simultaneously reported 170 new COVID-19 cases and a related death.

The new data raises the county total to 9,610 confirmed coronavirus cases and 320 deaths, including Monday's addition to that count: a man in his late 70s who died June 7.

WATCH here:

Despite the new cases, outdoor religious services will be allowed without restrictions on the number of worshippers so long as social distancing is maintained.

This followed a wild weekend in which bars reopened and hundreds of people -- many not wearing facial coverings -- were captured on social media, seen milling around outside bars in the Gaslamp District.

California Well Prepared for Future COVID-19 Spike, Says Newsom

– 3 p.m., Monday, June 15, 202

California has flattened the curve of COVID-19 hospitalizations, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday, as he emphasized that the state is prepared to handle future spikes in coronavirus cases.

Newsom's assurances came as the number of new coronavirus cases in the state continue to increase — with thousands of new positive tests every day over the last month — raising alarm among some public health officials and epidemiologists.

"As we mix, as we reopen, inevitably we’re going to see an increase in the total number of cases," Newsom said. "It is our capacity to address that that is so foundational."

WATCH now:

During the nearly two months that residents spent sheltering in place, California hospitals built up a supply of protective gear and nearly 11,000 ventilators in the case of a spike in hospitalizations.

As Newsom touted the state's ability to respond to an uptick in cases, he acknowledged the ongoing difficulty in containing the virus in nursing homes. More than half of the coronavirus deaths in California occurred in skilled nursing facilities. The state has required (but not provided) tests for all residents and nursing home workers.

"That is an area of deep focus and ongoing concern," Newsom added. "This remains our top priority." — Guy Marzorati / KQED

San Diego County Reports 126 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

– 4 p.m., Sunday, June 14, 2020

San Diego County health officials today reported 126 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths, bringing the county total number of cases to 9,440 with the death toll remaining at 319.

Of the 6,751 tests reported to the county, 2% were positive new cases. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 2.9%.

Among those testing positive, 1,519 cases have required hospitalization and 426 had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Meanwhile, a fund to provide loans and grants to minority-owned businesses that need help recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic was announced Sunday. The Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce is seeking to raise $1 million in the next 60 days to fuel the fund.

Meanwhile, the rapid pace of restoring San Diego County's economy continues.

Bars, zoos, community swimming pools, movie theaters and hotels all were allowed to reopen Friday. Guidance from the state late Thursday night allowed County Supervisor Greg Cox to announce nail salons, tattoo shops, massage therapists, and personal care businesses — such as waxing services — will be allowed to open June 19.

Sanitizing and facial coverings at these businesses will be especially important due to the physical proximity of the work, Cox said, offering a word of caution as more businesses open their doors: "We can't let reopenings lead to a surge in cases that will ruin everything we have done in the last several months."

The county also announced the launch of a new interactive website, which will allow residents to find COVID-19 testing locations near them at 211sandiego.org.

Even with a lack of a significant spike, early signs of a possible resurgence are showing, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. She said the county has recorded five community outbreaks of the illness in the past week. Past community outbreaks have included church meetings, parties and a wedding.

"We had only about three community outbreaks in the month of May," Wooten said.

One newly reported outbreak originated from a restaurant. The outbreak remains under investigation, and Wooten said she could not immediately share additional information.

One of the county's 13 "triggers," which could cause the county to take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts, or even dial back reopenings, would be having seven recorded community outbreaks within a week. The county remains "green" on all 13 triggers.

Cox said movie theaters that reopened Friday follow similar occupancy rules to churches, with a maximum of 25% of the room's capacity or 100 customers, or whichever is lowest, and typical sanitizing and facial coverings required while in line.

However, not every business able to open Friday necessarily did, Cox said, referencing the San Diego Zoo's announced June 20 reopening date. The USS Midway Museum announced Thursday it would hold off on reopening until July 1.

"The dangers of COVID-19 are as real today as they were in March," Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday.

He cited ballooning hospitalization rates in Orange and Ventura counties and a continued crisis in Los Angeles County in saying that while San Diego County has avoided the worst of the pandemic so far, caution must be exercised to avoid a second wave.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded Great Plates program, which partners with local restaurants to deliver food to seniors during the pandemic, had been scheduled to end Wednesday, but was extended through July 1. More than 1,400 people have received meals from 31 restaurants under the program. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 184 New COVID-19 Cases, Six New Deaths

4:00 p.m., Saturday, June 13, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 5,783 new tests yesterday, with a total of 184 positive cases of COVID-19. This is a 3 percent positive rate, and the 14-day rolling average rate of positive tests is also 3 percent.

The total number of positive cases for San Diego County is now 9,313.

1,501 (or 16.1 percent) of these cases have resulted in hospitalization, and 425 required intensive care. The intensive care unit statistic accounts for 4.6 percent of all cases and 28.3 percent of hospitalized cases.

The county reported six new deaths, bringing the total death rate to 319. The new fatalities include five females and one man, from mid-60s to early-90s in age. — KPBS staff

UC San Diego Holds Virtual Commencement

– 9:45 a.m., Saturday June 13, 2020

UC San Diego is holding a virtual commencement for the class of 2020 Saturday. The virtual ceremony will include a commencement address from award-winning television journalist and CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker, and recognition of individual graduates, the conferral of degrees and the traditional tassel turn. Watch live or find replays here. – City News Service

Nail Salons, Massage And Tattoo Parlors May Reopen Next Friday

– 2:30 p.m., June 12, 2020

San Diego County officials on Friday said personal care businesses, including nail salons and massage and tattoo parlors, will be able to reopen next Friday.

WATCH here:

Health officials also reported Friday 132 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths, raising the county totals to 9,130 cases and 313 deaths.

Faulconer Urges Vigilance As County Reopens More Industries Closed To COVID-19

– 7:15 p.m., June 11, 2020

As San Diego County moves into the next steps of reopening various industries shuttered for months due to COVID-19, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer Thursday urged San Diegans to continue exercising caution to keep local hospital systems from being overwhelmed.

On Friday, bars, gyms, hotels and movie theaters are among the sectors slated to reopen.

In his last daily COVID-19 news conference for the foreseeable future, Faulconer praised the efforts of San Diegans to slow the virus' spread, as well as the work of essential workers to keep city services running during the pandemic.

"The facts clearly show that San Diegans have helped flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus," said Faulconer.

However, the mayor echoed warnings from county health officials that precautions should be taken to prevent a potential spike in cases.

"The next steps after this depend not on government. They will depend on each of us," Faulconer said. "This next phase of reopening is all about personal responsibility and accountability. Do not take unnecessary risks that could put others in harm's way."

County health officials have advised residents that wearing face coverings remains mandatory, and warned of the ongoing presence of asymptomatic carriers. About 10% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in San Diego County displayed no symptoms, according to a county statement issued Thursday.

Thursday's COVID-19 update from the county marked 8,998 cases and 308 deaths.

Since the pandemic began, 16.2%, or 1,459, of all positive-testing patients have been hospitalized, 4.6%, or 414, have spent some time in intensive care and 3.5% have died.

"We know more people will get sick, and unfortunately, this disease will claim more lives. But we still have the power over what happens next. Through the actions we take, we can keep these numbers as low as possible," Faulconer said. — City News Service

WATCH: Mayor Faulconer To Discuss Next Steps Of Coronavirus Recovery

– 4:30 p.m., June 11, 2020

COVID-19 Cases Approaching 9,000 Mark, 3 More Deaths Reported

– 3:15 p.m., June 11, 2020

The COVID-19 case tally is just under the 9,000 mark in San Diego County as many businesses throughout the region prepare to reopen Friday.

County health officials reported 161 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths due to the illness on Thursday, raising county totals to 8,998 cases and 308 deaths.

The three deaths were men ranging in age from their late 40s to mid- 80s and two had underlying medical conditions.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said that 292 of 308 people who have died from COVID-19 had underlying medical conditions.

Since Wednesday, the county logged another 4,997 tests, raising the cumulative total to more than 208,000. The 161 positive tests recorded Thursday comprise 3% of the total, just below the 14-day rolling average for positive tests, which sits at 3.1%. — City News Service

USS Midway Museum To Reopen July 1

– 12:25 p.m., June 11, 2020

The USS Midway Museum will reopen to the public on July 1, the museum announced Thursday.

The floating museum has been closed since March 16. The county health officials have given all museums the clearance to start reopening Friday provided they follow the county’s safety guidelines.

The Midway will limit visitors, do temperature checks on guests and have more than 170 hand-sanitizer stations on hand. For now, the museum will limit guests to the flight and hangar decks to maximize safety. – Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

Coachella, Stagecoach Canceled For 2020

– 12:15 p.m., June 11, 2020

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival set for October in Indio was canceled Wednesday due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

Coachella's three-day country music sister festival, Stagecoach, was also canceled. No future dates were released for either festival.

Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser signed an order Wednesday nixing the festivals for 2020, citing fears the coronavirus could worsen by the time the festivals rolled around.

"Events like Coachella and Stagecoach would fall under Governor Newsom's Stage 4, which he has previously stated would require treatments or a vaccine to enter. Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward," Kaiser said in a statement.

"These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community."

Coachella, which brings upward of 250,000 fans over two weekends to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, was originally set for April but postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was then rescheduled for the weekends of Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18, while Stagecoach was rescheduled for Oct. 23-25.

Event promoter Goldenvoice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean were set to headline Coachella, while Lil Nas X, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson and ZZ Top were scheduled to headline Stagecoach. – City News Service

Faulconer, Other Mayors Push State For Homeless Funding Amid Coronavirus

– 4:35 p.m., Wednesday, June 10, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined his counterparts from other large California cities Wednesday, calling on the state to approve millions of dollars to address the homelessness crisis during, and beyond, the coronavirus pandemic.

In an online conference, members of the Big City Mayors coalition backed Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposal to earmark $600 million in federal CARES Act funding for homelessness solutions such as purchasing hotels and motels. They also urged legislators to approve $350 million in "flexible" funds for other intervention strategies to ensure homeless people who are moved into shelters or hotels under the state's Project Roomkey program during the pandemic don't wind up back on the streets.

"We've all been working during this crisis and during the pandemic to get folks off the street primarily for health and safety reasons," Faulconer said. "But as we look toward the future, how do we actually provide that?

"Here in San Diego we've opened up our convention center, and we have over 1,400 folks that we've been able to get safely off the streets from our bridge shelters to allow for social distancing," he said. "It's been a tremendous success so far. But as we are looking to getting on the other side of this pandemic, what we are all focused on is having both the resources and the ability and the places to give folks that permanent home. That's why these dollars are going to be so important. Not only the dollars for hotel acquisition but the flexible dollars for supportive services, because we are all interested in the long term."

– City News Service

Movie Theaters Join Zoos, Bars, Pools And Gyms In Reopening Friday

– 4:30 p.m., Monday, June 10, 2020

San Diego County officials announced Wednesday that indoor movie theaters will be allowed to reopen Friday, joining bars, zoos, community swimming pools and hotels in the next step forward to restarting the regional economy, while stressing the importance of continuing to take precautions to protect against COVID-19.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said movie theaters will follow similar occupancy rules to churches, with a maximum of 25% of the room's capacity or 100 customers and typical sanitizing and facial covering requirements in queues in effect.

However, not every business able to open Friday necessarily will, Cox said, referencing the San Diego Zoo's announced June 20 reopening date.

Meanwhile, county health officials reported 108 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths involving individuals ranging in age from 27 to 88, raising the county totals to 8,837 cases and 305 deaths.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said that 291 of 305 people who died had underlying medical conditions.

Since Tuesday, the county logged another 3,854 tests, raising the cumulative total to 203,579. The 108 positive tests recorded Wednesday comprise 3% of the total, same as the 14-day rolling average for positive tests. Area hospitals currently are treating 373 COVID-19 infected patients, 153 of whom are in intensive care.

Since the pandemic began, 16.4%, or 1,447, of all positive-testing patients have been hospitalized, 4.6%, or 410, have spent some time in intensive care and 3.5% have died.

"The dangers of COVID-19 are as real today as they were in March," said county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. — City News Service

USS Kidd Leaves San Diego Following COVID-19 Outbreak

– 12:15 p.m, Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The USS Kidd departed San Diego Wednesday morning to continue its scheduled deployment after arriving in the city in April with multiple sailors testing positive for COVID-19.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer was conducting counter-drug operations off the Pacific coast of South America in mid-April when sailors began exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

One sailor was evacuated to the mainland United States on April 22 after experiencing shortness of breath. The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island was directed to rendezvous with the Kidd, transferring eight medical personnel from its medical facility — along with an intensive care unit, ventilators and additional testing capacity — to begin testing sailors for COVID-19 the following day.

As Navy leaders solidified plans to return the ship to port, sailors who warranted closer observation were transported from Kidd to Makin Island out of an abundance of caution. An additional sailor was medically evacuated to the U.S. Meanwhile, the ship's crew began intensive cleaning efforts.

While in San Diego, the ship underwent a strategic deep-cleaning that balanced decontamination with preventing damage to the ship's critical systems, Navy officials said.

The Kidd is scheduled to return to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to continue its mission of counter-drug operations. — City News Service

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park to Reopen June 20

– 9:25 a.m., June 10, 2020

San Diego Zoo Global officials have announced that both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will reopen on June 20, ending the longest closure in the organization's 103-year history.

Both parks were shuttered in mid-March to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Both parks will reopen with reduced capacity, limited dining and shopping options, more hand washing and sanitizing locations and one-way path modifications and barriers. Guests will be encouraged to wear face coverings and observe physical distancing at all times.

All shows, tours and Safari experiences will be temporarily unavailable and numerous attractions will be closed during the initial reopening phase, including the Zoo's Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Bus and Skyfari Aerial Tram. – City News Service

San Diego Relief Fund To Prioritize Small Businesses Serving Low-To-Moderate Income Communities

– 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve allocating $12.8 million in federal coronavirus relief money to the city's small business relief fund.

The city fund launched March 27 and accepted applications from small businesses impacted by COVID-19 for three weeks. It received more than 10,000 applications, "far exceeding available funding," a city staff report said. The council had allocated $6.1 million on March 24 to be doled out in increments from $1,000 to $10,000 in grants, and forgivable or low- to zero-interest-rate loans to eligible small businesses for working capital.

WATCH here:

San Diego has received $248.45 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and $12.8 million of that money will go toward the fund.

To be eligible, a business must have fewer than 100 employees, be impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and must be based in the city of San Diego. — City News Service

San Diego County Surpasses 300 Deaths From COVID-19

– 4:20 p.m., Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Another grim milestone was crossed Tuesday, as San Diego County health officials reported five new deaths from the coronavirus, raising the number of people who have died from the illness above 300.

Since the pandemic began, 301 county residents have died from COVID- 19, the disease caused by the virus. Health officials reported 110 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, raising the total to 8,729 cases.

The five deceased were four men and one woman ranging in age from their late 60s to mid-80s. All five had underlying health conditions.

The county also recorded 3,963 tests, with 3% testing positive. The region's 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 3.1%.

Over the weekend, the number of Hispanic or Latino residents who have died from the illness surpassed the number of white residents, representing 43.1% of all deaths. White residents represent 42.7% of the deaths.

According to a 2017 demographics profile from the county's Health and Human Services Agency, the region's percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents was 33.4%, while white residents made up 46.2% of the county's population.

Meanwhile, piers and boardwalks throughout San Diego reopened Tuesday amid a flurry of re-openings set for this week. — City News Service

City Of San Diego Accepting Applications As Film Office Plans Friday Reopening

– 4:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The city of San Diego announced Tuesday it will start processing film and photography permits immediately in anticipation of a Friday reopening date for the San Diego Film Office, which was shuttered in March due to COVID-19 concerns.

All productions must follow the County of San Diego's safe reopening plan, which requires facial coverings, physical distancing measures and sanitation stations for all cast and crew. Film permits will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

"San Diego's Film Office was established to support and grow the local film industry and to promote the San Diego region as a competitive film- friendly destination," said Natasha Collura, executive director of its special events and filming department. "That mission is true now, more than ever, as we understand the need for studios, production companies, crew, support services and creative agencies to return to work safely."

In fiscal year 2019, the city received 554 applications for film and still photography productions, representing more than 1,300 days of filming.

Guidelines for issuing film permits in San Diego will continue to be examined based on available resources and updated based on state and county guidance. To learn more about the status of city services during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit sandiego.gov/coronavirus. — City News Service

Photo caption:

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Balboa Park Jan. 15, 2015.

Central Balboa Park Reopens To Visitors

– 11:48 a.m., June 9, 2020

Visitors will be able to return to central Balboa Park starting Friday June 12, park officials announced Tuesday.

The reopening includes the Prado Restaurant, the Japanese Friendship Garden, and the Pardo Perk Coffee Cart.

All parking lots will be open at full capacity.

San Diego Air & Space Museum will also reopen Friday, the museum announced Tuesday. It has been closed since March 16 when the county issued its stay-at-home order.

Other museums in the park have yet to announce their reopen date. On Monday, the county gave the go-ahead for museums to reopen starting Friday.

The park encourages visitors to follow health guidelines regarding social distancing and the use of a mask to ensure everyone's safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Details about the reopening and how to access different parts of the park safely can be found on Balboa Park’s main website. – KPBS Staff

Photo caption:

Photo by Matthew Bowler

People walking on Ocean Beach Pier on June 9, the first day the pier reopened after the COVID-19 closure.

All San Diego City Piers And Boardwalks Set To Reopen Tuesday

– 7:05 a.m., June 9, 2020

All piers and boardwalks in the city of San Diego will reopen Tuesday amid a flurry of re-openings set for this week.

East and West Mission Bay Parks reopened Monday for park and water uses, plus its parking lots are now open at 100% capacity. Fiesta Island reopened Monday for pedestrians, dogs and cyclists, but will remain closed to vehicles until July 6.

Day camps, campgrounds and RV parks also reopened Monday and outdoor recreation such as sport and charter fishing expeditions are now allowed.

On Friday, Balboa Park Central Mesa will reopen and all Balboa Park parking lots will reopen to 100% capacity.

The openings come as public health officials reported 143 new COVID-19 cases in San Diego County on Monday, raising the countywide total to 8,619. — City News Service

County Reports 143 New COVID-19 Cases

– 4:15 p.m., Monday, June 8, 2020

San Diego County public health official reported Monday 143 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths, raising the county's total number of cases to 8,619, while deaths remain at 296.

The county also announced it will immediately ease restrictions on day camps, campgrounds, RV parks, and outdoor recreations, such as sports fishing and private charter boats.

WATCH here:

Gyms, zoo, hotels, bars, museums and swimming pools, including community and HOA pools, may reopen starting Friday, provided they complete the county’s safe reopening plan.

The county recorded 3,844 tests Monday, raising the cumulative total to 195,762 tests. The 143 new cases represent 4% of the total tests reported Monday, slightly higher than the region's rolling 14-day average.

Over the weekend, the number of Hispanic or Latino residents who have died from the illness surpassed the number of white residents, representing 43.1% of all deaths. White residents represent 42.7% of the deaths.

According to the 2017 Demographics Profile from the County of San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency, the region's percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents was 33.4%, while white residents made up 46.2% of the county's population.

—Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer, City News Service

FEMA to Distribute More Than $1 Million To San Diego County In Emergency Funds

– 4:18 p.m., Monday, June 8, 2020

San Diego County is slated to receive more than $1 million in coronavirus-related humanitarian funding to assist with food and shelter needs during the pandemic, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday.

According to FEMA, $320 million in Emergency Food and Shelter Program funding will be distributed nationwide to help organizations "dedicated to providing food, shelter and supportive services to people with economic emergencies, including our nation's hungry and homeless populations."

About $200 million comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security — or CARES — Act, and te remainder from $120 million appropriated by Congress for annual EFSP funding.

San Diego County is set to receive $1,050,617, according to the EFSP website.

"These funds are for people with non-disaster related emergencies and can be used for a broad range of services, including mass shelter, mass feeding, food pantries and food banks, payment of one-month's utility bills to prevent loss of services, payment of one-month's rent/mortgage to prevent evictions/foreclosures and transition assistance from (temporary) shelters to stable living conditions," according to a FEMA statement.

FEMA says the funding is allocated based on each jurisdiction's most recent national population, unemployment, and poverty statistics. Grants are then awarded to non profit community and government organizations chosen by local boards.

More information is available online. – City News Service

VA Cancels National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic In San Diego Due To COVID-19

– 12:01p.m., Monday, June 8, 2020

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, which had been scheduled for Sept. 20-25 in San Diego, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The VA also announced the cancellation of the National Disabled Veterans TEE (Training, Exposure and Experience) Tournament, which had been scheduled for Sept. 13-18 in Riverside, Iowa, for the same reason.

"VA made this decision out of an abundance of caution for the health, safety and well-being of veterans and their families, our employees and community partners," according to a VA statement. "Our goal is to limit exposure to vulnerable populations like older veterans and those with underlying medical conditions, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." – City News Service

East And West Mission Bay Parks To Reopen Monday After Closure Due To COVID-19

– 7:30 a.m., June 8, 2020

Piers, boardwalks and other water areas in San Diego will begin reopening Monday following lengthy closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

East and West Mission Bay Parks will reopen Monday for park and water uses, plus parking lots will open up to 100% capacity. Fiesta Island will also reopen Monday for pedestrians, dogs and cyclists, but will remain closed to vehicles until July 6.

On Tuesday, all city piers and boardwalks in San Diego will reopen.

On Friday, Balboa Park Central Mesa will reopen and all Balboa Park parking lots will reopen to 100% capacity.

Visitors are still asked to practice physical distancing and refrain from any active sports activities at the beaches. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 131 New Coronavirus Cases

– 3:43 p.m., June 7, 2020

San Diego County health officials Sunday reported 131 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths, bringing the county's number of cases to 8,476, with the number of deaths remaining at 296.

Cities throughout the county can open beach parking lots on Tuesday at their discretion, county officials said Saturday. Members of the same household will also be allowed to participate in active sports together, such as football, soccer or volleyball.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the Tuesday date was to allow jurisdictions to get through the weekend before the rule change and give cities time to change signage.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday released information about the next stage of businesses allowed to reopen. It includes gyms, indoor museums, hotels, card rooms, wineries, day camps, campgrounds, family entertainment centers — such as bowling alleys — zoos, bars, TV and film production and even professional sports without spectators.

Of those testing positive for COVID-19, 1,421 have been hospitalized and 402 have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

Of 5,732 tests reported to the county Saturday, 2% were positive new cases.

The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 3%.

Although the region has not yet seen a spike in COVID-19 cases following both Memorial Day reopenings and demonstrations with thousands taking to the streets to protest police brutality, San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the county is still well within the incubation period for the illness from those dates. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 165 More Cases Of COVID-19

– 4 p.m., June 6, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 165 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths Saturday.

The COVID-19 cases reported Saturday, along with two deaths, brings the county's totals to 8,345 cases and 296 deaths.

The deaths included a woman in her 90s and a man in his 80s. Both victims had underlying conditions, the county said.

Of those testing positive, 1,416 have been hospitalized and 401 have been admitted to an intensive care unit.

Of 3,863 tests reported to the county Friday, 4% were positive new cases.

The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 3.1%. — City News Service

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.

County COVID-19 Cases Cross 8,000; Beach Parking Lots Could Reopen Tuesday

–10 a.m., June 6, 2020

San Diego County health officials have reported 240 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily total since the pandemic began while announcing further reopening procedures coastal cities could implement by as soon as Tuesday.

County officials announced Friday that as a result of case numbers continuing to trend in the right direction, cities throughout the county could open beach parking lots at their discretion. Members of the same household would now also be allowed to participate in active sports together, such as football, soccer or volleyball.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the Tuesday date was to allow jurisdictions to get through the weekend before the rule change and give cities time to change signage.

Gov. Gavin Newsom Friday released information Friday about the next stage of businesses. This includes gyms, indoor museums, hotels, card rooms, wineries, day camps, campgrounds, family entertainment centers — such as bowling alleys — zoos, bars, TV and film production and even professional sports without spectators.

The COVID-19 cases reported Friday, along with six deaths, come as a result of the largest single-day number of tests — 5,936 — that Fletcher said represent several days of accidentally withheld results. The data reported Friday raises the numbers to 8,180 cases and 294 deaths.

So even though the 240 cases are the most yet, they represent just 4% of the total number of tests, slightly above the county's rolling 14-day average but not a significant jump in the numbers.

Of those testing positive, 17.1%, or 1,397, have been hospitalized and 4.9%, or 397, have been admitted to an intensive care unit. The deaths represent 3.6% of all those who have tested positive for the illness.

Although the region has not yet seen a spike in COVID-19 cases following both Memorial Day reopenings and demonstrations with thousands taking to the streets to protest against last week's in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the county is still well within the incubation period for the illness from those dates. — City News Service

County Announces Beach Parking Lots Can Reopen Tuesday

— 6:39 p.m., June 5, 2020

Starting next Tuesday, June 9, beachgoers will be allowed to park in lots at local beaches, the county announced Friday. Individual coastal communities can elect to enforce stricter regulations, so it’s recommended to check specific beach locations before heading out.

Late today, the county also received further guidance from the state about a number of additional sectors that can reopen, with restrictions, as early as next Friday, June 12.

The county also received reopening guidelines for the following industries:

— Gyms

— Hotels

— Bars and wineries

— Museums, galleries, zoos and aquariums

— Professional sports without spectators

— Day camps

— Campgrounds and RV parks

— Family entertainment (bowling alleys, batting cages, etc.)

— Card rooms and racetracks

— Music, film and television production

— KPBS Staff

California To Allow Schools, Gyms And Bars Reopen Next Week

– 2:56 p.m., June 5, 2020

California will begin allowing the reopening of schools, day camps, bars, gyms and some professional sports with modifications at the end of next week. Mark Ghaly, the state's top health official, says the state will release guidance later Friday for counties to follow to reopen a broad range of businesses that have been closed since mid-March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The rules on schools and day camps will apply statewide, but only counties that have met certain thresholds on cases, testing and preparedness will be allowed to reopen other sectors. California has reported more than 122,000 coronavirus cases and more than 4,400 deaths. — Associated Press

WATCH: County Officials Give Update On Covid-19 In San Diego

– 2:35 p.m., June 5, 2020

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

– 5:30 p.m., June 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

– 3:50 p.m., June 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 3:30 p.m., June 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Unemployment Leading To Rise In Drug Overdoses

*– 3 p.m., June 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 10:30 a.m., June 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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

County Supervisors Vote To Extend Moratorium On Evictions

– 4:09 p.m., Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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

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

The board first approved an eviction moratorium in late March.

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

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

– 3:49 p.m., Thursday, June 2, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passive Recreation Activities Now Allowed At San Diego County Beaches

– 7:05 a.m., Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

73 New Coronavirus Cases, No New Deaths Reported

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, June 1, 2020

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

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

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

WATCH NOW:

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

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

Gov. Newsom Addresses Weekend Protests, Decries Violence And Looting

– 1 p.m., Monday, June 1, 2020

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

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

WATCH here:

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

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

Amtrak Partially Reopens Central Coast Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 3:45 p.m. Saturday, May 30

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

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

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

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

– KPBS Staff

Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order To Halt Evictions

– 9:20 a.m. Saturday, May 30

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

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

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

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

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

– KPBS Staff

San Diego Mayor Condemns Minneapolis Officers

– 5:30 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

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

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

WATCH here:

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

San Diego County Reports 140 New Coronavirus Cases, 6 Deaths

– 3:15 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Newsom Addresses Floyd Killing, Counties Reopening

– 3:17 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020

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

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

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

WATCH here:

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

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

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

Sales In County Drop By Nearly $2.3 Billion

– 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Pacific Surfliner Rail Service Partially Restored

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

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

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

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

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

Mayor Faulconer Announces Expansion Of Slow Streets Program

– 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

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

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

WATCH here:

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

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

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

County Beaches Will Reopen To Sunbathers In June

– 4:15 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

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

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

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

WATCH here:

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

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

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

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

– 10:52 a.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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

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

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

WATCH here:

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

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

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

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

– 3:45 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– City News Service

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

– 3:39 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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

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

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

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

– 6:29 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego Sees No New Deaths, 85 New Coronavirus Cases

–3:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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

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

WATCH here:

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

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

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

– 1 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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

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

WATCH here:

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

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

No Additional COVID-19 Deaths Reported on Memorial Day

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

The county released this update on Monday evening:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shopping At Retail Stores May Resume Statewide

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

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

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

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

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

Gov. Newsom Issues Guidelines For Church Reopenings

– 12:20 p.m., Monday, May 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

Barona Casino To Begin Phased Re-Opening On Wednesday

– 11:50 a.m., Monday, May 25, 2020

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

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

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

142 More COVID-19 Cases Reported In San Diego County

– 5:45 p.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020

San Diego County on Sunday reported another 142 cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 6,701 cases and deaths remaining at 249.

The total number of cases requiring hospitalization is 1,232 and cases requiring intensive care are 369, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported.

Of the 4,548 tests reported to the county Saturday, 3% were positive new cases.

The estimated number of recovered COVID-19 patients is 4,677, the agency said.

The 14-day rolling-average percentage of new positive cases among county residents is 3.3%. — City News Service

San Diego Archdiocese Looking To Have In-Person Services In June

– 1:35 p.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020

Some 1.3 million Roman Catholics in the San Diego County diocese are being invited to attend in-person Masses as early June 8 after closing for COVID-19 in mid-March, church officials said this weekend.

Parishes may adopt different logistics, such as indoors, outdoors or a hybrid.

The announcement comes as churches statewide looked forward to guidance Monday from Gov. Gavin Newsom on how they can reopen.

"After a great deal of discussion, we concluded that the first weekend for the public celebration of the Eucharist in our parishes should be the feast of Corpus Christi, June fourteenth," Bishop Robert McElroy said in a letter written Friday and posted Saturday on a private Facebook group. "This seems a beautifully symbolic and joyful feast in which to bring together anew our Eucharistic communities."

But McElroy said a weekday opening has been suggested. Full story here. – City News Service

Some Major San Diego Malls Reopened This Weekend; Others Reopen Next Week

– 8:35 a.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020

Some major shopping malls in the San Diego area reopened Saturday amid easing COVID-19 restrictions while others will reopen next week.

Simon Property Group reopened Fashion Valley Mall at 7007 Friars Road, Las Americas Premium Outlets at 4211 Camino De La Plaza and Carlsbad Premium Outlets at 5620 Paseo Del Norte.

Simon's website details the group's COVID-19 protocols including taking the temperatures of employees when they report to work, separating desks and workstations by at least six feet or putting a barrier between them, requiring face masks, frequent breaks for hand washing and enhanced sanitizing and disinfecting.

Westfield shopping malls in San Diego, La Jolla and Mission Valley are scheduled to reopen Friday. – City News Service

City Urges Public To Follow Health Precautions During Memorial Day Weekend

– 8:25 a.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020

San Diego city leaders are urging residents to continue obeying orders regarding COVID-19 precautions during the Memorial Day weekend amid concerns of violations by businesses and the public.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said that Thursday, the county's first day back to in-person dining and in-store retail was largely a success, though one Pacific Beach restaurant and bar made headlines when videos and pictures shared over social media showed large groups of patrons standing in close quarters without masks.

The restaurant, El Prez, was shut down Friday by county officials as a result. San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the restaurant would "remain closed until further notice" for violations of the public health order.

Faulconer issued a warning to business owners, saying "The same thing will happen to any businesses that operate with a flagrant disregard for the safety of others." Read the full story here. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 3% Positive Testing Rate With 125 New Cases, 7 New Deaths

– 2:20 p.m., Saturday, May 23, 2020

San Diego County health officials announced 3,795 new tests reported on Friday. Of those, 125, or 3%, were positive cases for a 14-day rolling average positive rate of 3.4%.

The total positive cases for San Diego County residents is now 6,559; 1,224 (18.7%) required hospitalization and 369 (5.6%) went to intensive care.

Seven new deaths were reported, for a total of 249 deaths in the region. – KPBS Staff

San Diegans Head To Beaches At Start of Memorial Day Weekend

– 2:20 p.m., Saturday, May 23, 2020

As San Diegans headed for area beaches on the start of the Memorial Day weekend, Lifeguard Services officials said beachgoers seemed to be following county health guidelines issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, it was still early to gauge crowd estimates at all coastal beaches, but at La Jolla beaches, it was a "pretty routine" day, according to Marine Safety Lt. Maureen Hodges of Lifeguard Services.

"Lifeguards made some rescues," Hodges said. "But so far, we're off to a good start here in La Jolla."

Lifeguards were focusing on water safety and making sure runners and walkers kept moving on the sand, Hodges said. She encouraged beachgoers to come to the beach, get their exercising in, then leave.

"We want all San Diegans and visitors to enjoy our beaches," Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said Friday. "However, the public health rules that are in place must be followed this weekend. We expect a lot of visitors and will work closely with our partners at San Diego Police Department to make sure everyone stays safe."

The rules for beaches and shorelines state that only walking and running are allowed. "No stopping, sitting or lying down," the rules state.

In the ocean, only swimming, surfing, kayaking and single-person paddling are allowed.

In San Diego bays, single-household recreational boating is allowed, along with fishing, but not from the shoreline. No swimming on the bay and Mission Bay Park.

Boardwalks, piers, parking lots and Fiesta Island are closed.

Gatherings and non-physical distancing activities are not allowed anywhere.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday asked San Diegans to "follow public health rules that keep us safe."

"We've all worked so hard, so let's enjoy our progress but not give up the gains we've made," Faulconer said. – City News Service

Bars, Wineries Allowed To Serve Alcoholic Drinks To Go, With Food

– 11:50 a.m., Saturday, May 23, 2020

Photo credit: Paul Taylor/Getty Images

Restaurant takeout bags await customer pick-up in an April 2020 photo.

Bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries in California that do not have their own kitchens, but partner with meal providers can now sell alcoholic beverages to go, so long as they are sold with a meal and served in a sealed container, state officials announced.

The announcement by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was the agency's fifth adjustment to lockdown orders put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including authorizing take-out dining and alcoholic beverages to-go for more than 45,000 restaurants.

The move came after the department received numerous requests from businesses that do not operate kitchen facilities to extend its rule allowing the sale of to-go alcoholic drinks with meals prepared on-site at bars and restaurants, according to ABC spokesman John Carr.

"We know businesses have suffered as they continue fighting to slow the spread of COVID-19," ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith said. "We have heard directly from these businesses that the notices of regulatory relief can give them a boost and help bring more people back to work."

On May 15, the department authorized thousands of licensees to use parking lots, patios or sidewalks to help fight coronavirus by spreading out patrons and providing more areas for physical distancing, Carr said.

Additionally, ABC is temporarily allowing:

-- virtual wine tasting to help California's 6,300 wineries;

-- free delivery of alcohol to consumers;

-- extended alcoholic beverage delivery hours;

-- extended credit transactions beyond 30 days;

-- alcohol transactions through passout windows or slide out trays;

-- distilleries to make hand sanitizers and disinfectants so long as they are cleared through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

– City News Service

City Urges Locals To Follow Public Health Precautions During Memorial Weekend

– 6 p.m., Friday, May 22, 2020

San Diego city leaders urged residents Friday to continue obeying orders regarding COVID-19 precautions during the Memorial Day weekend amid concerns of violations by businesses and the public.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the county's first day back to in-person dining and in-store retail was largely a success, though one Pacific Beach restaurant and bar made headlines when videos and pictures shared over social media showed large groups of patrons standing in close quarters without masks on Thursday.

The restaurant, El Prez, was shut down Friday by county officials as a result. San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the restaurant would "remain closed until further notice" for violations of the public health order.

WATCH here:

Faulconer issued a warning to business owners, saying "The same thing will happen to any businesses that operate with a flagrant disregard for the safety of others."

Going into the weekend, San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said water access and running or jogging along the shoreline will be allowed, but reminded the public stopping, sitting or lying down at the beaches is still prohibited, while boardwalks and parking lots remain closed.

San Diego police and lifeguards will be stepping up enforcement of the public health orders this weekend, both at beaches and businesses that have reopened since San Diego entered the latter part of Phase 2.

Nisleit said a "very robust grouping of law enforcement" will be patrolling day and night, while San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said "full lifeguard staffing" would be on hand to enforce compliance of the health orders at the beaches.

"Let's support local workers and restaurants not only by giving them our business, but by following public health rules that keep all of us safe," Faulconer said.

"We've all worked so hard, so let's enjoy our progress but not give up the gains we've made. Whether you're on the sand or at a shop this weekend, stay classy out there San Diego." — City News Service

San Diego County To Increase Enforcement Of Public Health Orders Over Memorial Day Weekend

– 3:30 p.m., Friday, May 22, 2020

San Diego County leaders are warning residents the sheriff’s department will increase enforcement of public health orders over the Memorial Day weekend. The county already ordered a city of San Diego bar to shut down after social media videos showed dense crowds gathered inside Thursday evening.

Medical facilities raised concerns that recently loosened restrictions to allow in-person dining and shopping would spread the virus that causes COVID-19 and lead to an increase in hospitalizations. County officials are urging the public to adhere to orders still in place, such as social distancing and mandatory facial coverings, as it permits the new activities.

WATCH here:

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the El Prez bar and restaurant in Pacific Beach was forced to close Friday because it did not comply with county rules for reopening.

“We simply cannot tolerate such blatant and intentional violations of the public health order,” Fletcher said.

He said the facility will remain shut down until operators provide the county revised plans and prove they can enforce public health orders. Fletcher said poor compliance with the county’s restrictions can erode customers’ confidence that entering local businesses is safe.

“We simply cannot let one bad actor ruin it for everyone,” he said.

San Diego County Undersheriff Mike Barnett said the department’s deputies favor education over enforcement, noting it had issued only 137 citations in all and none in the last week. However, he said the sheriff’s department was “very concerned” hearing about bars drawing big crowds.

The county is reporting another 119 new cases of the coronavirus and one additional death, bringing the total to 6,434 cases and 242 deaths. The region’s positive rate remained low at 3% out of just more than 4,000 tests. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

Newsom To Issue Guidance Monday For In-Person Religions Service, Vows To Relax More Restrictions Soon

– 12 p.m. Friday, May 22, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday vowed to relax more restrictions soon. He said he would issue guidance Monday for how to restore in-person religious services safely and was working toward the reopening of hair and nail salons.

WATCH here:

But he added caution is still needed. Speaking from a veteran's home Friday who lived through second and third waves of outbreaks during the 1918 flu pandemic, Newsom warned people not to be fooled “just because the sun has come up and there's a sense of optimism, that there's more light."

“There's also another reality that is stubborn, and that is the virulence of this disease remains and lives are continuing to be lost," he said. — Associated Press

Two More Casinos to Reopen In San Diego County, More Restaurants And Shops Reopen Too

– 8:30 a.m., Friday, May 22, 2020

Two more tribal casinos will reopen Friday and more restaurants and shops will open their doors for in-person service, as San Diego County steps cautiously into expanded Phase 2 reopenings.

California approved the county's request Wednesday night to allow dining at restaurants and in-store shopping, both with social-distancing restrictions.

Elected officials and business leaders alike showed optimism Thursday afternoon, but also cautioned San Diegans to be patient as the new normal fits into place.

Even as the more than 16,000 restaurants and food-service facilities across the region gained the ability to reopen, county health officials reported 175 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, raising the county totals to 6,315 cases and 241 deaths.

Restaurants and shops must fill out the county's Safe Reopening Plan form and post it publicly to reopen, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said in a tweet Wednesday night.

Some restaurants and shops completed this form ahead of time and are able to open today.

Some of the guidelines restaurants must adhere to include having tables six feet apart, having temperature screening of employees, requiring facial coverings on employees at all times and on customers unless they are seated, and encouraging reservations.

Retail stores have similar restrictions, including limiting the number of shoppers in stores to maintain social distancing and requiring facial coverings for employees and customers at all times. – City News Service

San Diego Mayor Highlights Local Biotech Firms Making Headway In Effort To Treat COVID-19

— 4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 21, 200

WATCH LIVE here:

As San Diego begins to reopen restaurant dining and in-store shopping Thursday, Mayor Kevin Faulconer highlighted the encouraging progress the local biotech industry is making in developing treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

Faulconer was joined by Joe Panetta, president and CEO of Biocom; Henry Ji, chairman and CEO of Sorrento Therapeutics; and Kate Broderick, senior vice president of research and development at Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

“San Diego has been a leader in slowing the spread of COVID-19, a leader in safely reopening amid COVID-19, and I truly believe will be a leader in developing an effective treatment to stop COVID-19,” Faulconer said. “The extremely encouraging progress on treatments and vaccines being made in San Diego makes the light at the end of this tunnel even brighter, and is what will ultimately bring an end to this global pandemic.”

As Some Businesses Reopen, County Reports 175 New Coronavirus Cases And 11 More Deaths

– 4 p.m., Thursday, May 21, 2020

Even as the more than 16,000 restaurants and food-service facilities across the region gained the ability to reopen Thursday, county health officials reported more new cases and deaths.

County public health official Dr. Wilma Wooten announced 175 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, raising the county totals to 6,315 cases and 241 deaths. WATCH here:

Thursday was the first day Some San Diego restaurants were able to open for breakfast and lunch as the county stepped cautiously into expanded Phase 2 reopenings after California approved its request Wednesday night to allow dining at restaurants and in-store shopping, both with social-distancing restrictions.

Elected officials and business leaders alike showed optimism Thursday afternoon but also cautioned San Diegans to be patient as the new normal fits into place. — City News Service

CVS To Open Seven Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Sites In San Diego County

– 11:50 a.m., May 21, 2020

CVS Health announced today that it will open seven drive-thru testing sites across San Diego County starting tomorrow.

The company expects to open up to 1,000 such locations across the country by the end of the month, with the goal of processing up to 1.5 million tests per month, subject to availability of supplies and lab capacity.

A total of 14 test sites in California that are opening starting Friday are part of nearly 350 locations across 14 states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

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

State Officials Approve San Diego’s Plan To Expand Phase 2 Reopening

– 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 20

State officials have approved San Diego County’s plan to reopen restaurants for dine-in service and retail stores for in-person shopping, with some restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

RELATED: Many California Counties Get State OK For Faster Reopening

This doesn’t mean restaurants can reopen right away, however. The county will need to update its public health order first. That could happen as early as Thursday.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ask the state to move further into “Phase 2.”

On Tuesday, the supervisors also approved sending a pilot program to the state that could allow businesses like salons and gyms to reopen at reduced capacity. There has been no decision by the state on that plan so far. – Matt Hoffman, KPBS News

Casino Pauma Bucks Trend, Remains Closed

– 7:20 p.m., Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Casino Pauma announced Wednesday that it will remain closed for the time being in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, bucking the trend of many local tribal casinos that have moved to reopen this week.

The casino has been closed since March 15 and will remain shuttered until further notice, according to a statement released on the casino's website.

"It is very important to the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians and Casino Pauma leadership that we continue to demonstrate that 'Where People Come First' is more than a slogan," said Jim Thomason, general manager of Casino Pauma.

Casino officials say they will implement safety protocols in preparation for the casino's eventual reopening. — City News Service

San Diego Courts Grapple With Issues Over Resuming Jury Trials In Coronavirus Era

– 5:27 p.m., Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Jury trials could resume in San Diego County as soon as June 15, though many questions remain on how to conduct public court proceedings safely for all involved, particularly with the large number of people needed for the jury selection process, a group of local judges said Wednesday.

San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Lorna A. Alksne said the latest orders from the state have delayed California jury trials until June 15, though she expected trials would likely not begin until sometime after that date.

During a "State of the Superior Court Address" held online, Alksne said a growing backlog of criminal trials will take priority over other types of cases when trials resume, but questions regarding the when and how loom large.

San Diego Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Michael T. Smyth said abiding by public health orders would present numerous issues when it comes to protecting the health of all involved, particularly with bringing large groups of the public into county courthouses.

Referencing the downtown San Diego courthouse, Smyth said maintaining proper social distancing is a major issue, as almost all its courtrooms can only seat four jurors in the jury box, with the remaining panelists needing to be spaced out in the seating areas typically used by the media and the general public.

Gathering a sufficient pool of potential jurors for all ongoing trials, which can number well into the hundreds on any given day, creates other issues as far as seating prospective jurors in the jury lounge, and conducting the jury selection process. – City News Service

WATCH: Mayor Faulconer To Propose $20 million Towards Small Business Relief Using Federal Funds

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 20, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

Positive COVID-19 Tests Trend Down In San Diego County

– 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 20, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 114 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths from the illness Wednesday, as Sycuan Casino reopened in a limited fashion, becoming the second of five tribal casinos in the county to open its doors this week.

The county data increases the total coronavirus case numbers to 6,140 and the number of deaths to 230. The ages of those whose deaths were reported Wednesday ranged from 61 to 99, all of whom had underlying health issues, County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

WATCH here:

An estimated 4,089 people have recovered from COVID-19, while a cumulative 1,155 have been hospitalized and 355 have spent some time in intensive care.

The county recorded 4,802 COVID-19 tests Wednesday, a single-day high, for 115,837 cumulative tests. The 114 positive cases represent just 2% of all tests reported Wednesday, well below the region's 14-day average of 3.6% positive. — City News Service

Chula Vista Church Appeals Denial To Reopen

– 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Chula Vista church that sued Gov. Gavin Newsom to halt enforcement of the ban on in-person religious gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic is appealing a San Diego federal judge's denial of its request to reopen

South Bay United Pentecostal Church and its senior pastor, Bishop Arthur Hodges III, sued Newsom and a host of other state and local officials earlier this month for placing churches and other places of worship under Stage 3 of California's reopening plan, which also includes movie theaters, salons and gyms.

The lawsuit alleges state and local elected officials have "intentionally denigrated California churches and pastors and people of faith by relegating them to third-class citizenship."

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant denied the request, saying the state's order placed churches under Stage 3 because "the services involve people sitting together in a closed environment for long periods of time," rather than any motivation against religion. — City News Service

Sycuan Casino To Reopen, Three More Casinos Will Follow This Week

– 7:25 a.m., Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sycuan Casino will reopen in a limited fashion Wednesday, becoming the second of five tribal casinos that will open its doors this week.

Viejas Casino and Resort reopened on Monday, Jamul Casino will reopen on Thursday and Valley View Casino & Hotel and Harrah's Resort Southern California will reopen Friday.

Bingo and poker will remain closed as part of the phased reopening. Restaurants will operate for limited hours and gaming areas will require appropriate spacing between players and staff.

Tables games will be limited to a maximum of three players per table and every other slot machine will be turned off to further encourage space between players.

Patrons and staff will also be required to undergo temperature checks, wear masks at all times and practice physical distancing.

All five casinos are on tribal land, meaning they are not subject to the same state regulations that have limited most business operations in California. — City News Service

San Diego Unified And Other Large Districts Send Urgent Letter To Newsom

– 5:45 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Superintendents from six large urban California school districts sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday saying schools might not open on time for the fall semester if the state can’t find more funding.

Last week, Newsom unveiled a revised state budget that cut hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to K through 12 districts. The letter, which was signed by San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten, said the cuts would force districts to delay reopening schools even after public health officials say it’s safe to do so.

After the letter was released, San Diego Unified officials clarified that the district is still planning to start school on August 31st but it will be a continuation of distance learning unless the state provides the needed funding to reopen campuses. — Joe Hong, KPBS Education Reporter

County Supes Pass Comprehensive Coronavirus Stimulus Package

— 5:20 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a comprehensive stimulus package using federal CARES Act funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding includes $175 million for the county's COVID-19 response/recovery, $100 million for testing; $17 million for economic stimulus programs for restaurants and small businesses, $15 million for Behavioral Health Services, and $2 million in Child Welfare Services. — City News Service

Mayor Faulconer Boosts Child Care Funding For Essential Workers

– 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The San Diego City Council Tuesday unanimously approved matching $5 million in federal stimulus funding that will provide childcare for essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the city's match of the $5 million CARES Act funding already approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors directs a combined total of $10 million to the cause.

WATCH here:

"We're relying on essential workers every day to help us get through to the other side of his pandemic," Faulconer said. "While they take care of us, we need to take care of them. By helping with childcare, we're providing peace of mind to the frontline heroes who are juggling job and family responsibilities during these trying times."

Health care workers, first responders, emergency medical services personnel, grocery store staff and child care providers are among those eligible to receive assistance. — City News Service

San Diego's Coronavirus Cases Up By 80, 11 New Deaths Reported

– 3:25 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, 200

The county health department on Tuesday reported 80 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths, raising the county's totals to 6,026 cases and 222 fatalities.

The 11 deaths reported include three women and eight men ranging in age from their late 40s to their 80s. All but one had underlying health issues, with that one undergoing testing to determine if any issues were present. — City News Service

San Diego County To Ask State To Move Further Into Stage 2

– 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, 2020

San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to petition the governor to move further into phase two of the state’s four-stage reopening. The move would allow for restaurants to have dine-in customers.

The board also advanced the proposal for a pilot program to test reopening some businesses, including reopening barbershops and hair salons, shuttered until Stage 3. The vote passed 4-1, with Supervisor Nathan Fletcher voting against.

“I believe San Diego County is ready to responsibly reopen businesses in “Stage 2” consistent with the guidelines Governor Gavin Newsom outlined yesterday,” he said in an email statement. “But given we have not even opened “Stage 2” business, I do not believe it is time to call on the state to allow the immediate opening of “Stage 3” entities including higher risk activities like gathering and businesses with high exposure, intensity and duration of risk.”

Newsom on Monday issued new guidelines for reopening after several counties with large metro areas, including San Diego, say his original plan was unrealistic.— Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

Supervisors Fletcher And Jacob To Present $34 Million Stimulus Package Tuesday

9:25 a.m., Tuesday, May 19, 2020

San Diego County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Diane Jacob say they will introduce a $34 million economic stimulus package designed to assist local businesses struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic to the full Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The proposed Economic and Humanitarian Stimulus Package from federal CARES Act funding would also be used for more behavioral health and child welfare services.

The proposal includes $17 million "for implementing economic stimulus programs for restaurants and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic"; $15 million for behavioral health services — including telehealth capabilities, electronic health record upgrades and care coordination, outreach and engagement and workforce recruitment and retention; and $2 million for child welfare services to enhance existing contracts to include expanded outreach, service and support for at-risk families who have been disconnected since schools were closed due to coronavirus dangers.

The supervisors plan to present their proposal to the full Board of Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday. — City News Service

Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Jacob Discuss Safe Local Reopenings

– 5:40 p.m., Monday, May 18, 2020

San Diego County will forward proposals to Gov. Gavin Newsom's office for an accelerated reopening of local businesses and a pilot program to test reopening some establishments shuttered until Stage 3 of California's reopening plan, it was announced Monday.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said if Newsom approves letting the county reopen Stage 2 sectors -- such as in-person dining and retail -- ahead of schedule, some businesses could reopen as soon as this week.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposals at its Tuesday meeting, during which details of both plans will be laid out.

WATCH here:

The announcements came as Newsom eased restrictions Monday for many California counties to reopen, citing decreasing coronavirus hospitalization and ICU rates.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he believes San Diego County meets the state's modified criteria to reopen dining and retail businesses sooner than others, but would take it further in asking Newsom to allow San Diego County "to pilot the reopening of certain Stage 3 economic sectors, that would safely reopen businesses like barbershops and hair and nail salons."

The city's RECOVER advisory group has been developing COVID-19 protocols for local businesses to follow in the event of a reopening, and on Monday morning, Faulconer and Phil's BBQ owner and CEO Phil Pace showcased what some of those dine-in measures would look like at the Phil's Rancho Bernardo location.

The proposed measures include plexiglass protective coverings at the counters between customers and employees, floor markings for customers to socially distance, and signs keeping customers apprised of what surfaces have been sanitized or not.

"Our San Diego restaurants and our small businesses are ready to go," Faulconer said at Phil's Monday morning. "And we're sending a very clear and direct message to Sacramento, to the governor: Give San Diego the local control to be able to reopen safely." — City News Service

San Diego County Records 110 New Coronavirus Cases, 2 Deaths

– 2:30 p.m., Monday, May 18, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 110 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths on Monday, raising the totals to 5,946 cases and 211 deaths.

At the same time — citing decreasing coronavirus hospitalization and ICU rates statewide — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced a relaxation of restrictions that could allow more businesses to reopen more quickly in a majority of the state's counties. Newsom also said that if the current trends continue, the state may be able to significantly ease restrictions statewide in the next few weeks.

Officials in many parts of the state — including San Diego — have been pushing to reopen more sectors of their economies. Local officials, including San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, have pointed to what they viewed as unrealistic benchmarks counties needed to meet to accelerate business reopenings. One of those guidelines mandated that counties have no deaths from COVID-19 for a two-week period, which Fletcher said would "never happen" with a county the population of San Diego unless vaccinations or other therapeutic treatments became widespread.

The looser restrictions announced by Newsom include requirements that counties have no more than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over a seven-day period, have no more than an 8% positive rate among people tested for coronavirus and have 15 trained patient-contact-tracing workers per 100,000 population. — City News Service

WATCH: Gov. Newsom To Give Update On State’s Response To Coronavirus

– 12 p.m., Monday, May 18, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed county reopening criteria on Monday, a move he said will allow most of the state’s 58 counties to begin allowing dining in restaurants and other services.

“Bottom line is: People can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions,” Newsom said.

WATCH LIVE here:

The new criteria he outlined applies to counties that want to reopen faster than the state. While retail may open for curbside pickup statewide, restrictions on dining in at restaurants and other services are still in place statewide. Counties can move faster if they win state approval.

Twenty-four counties in mostly rural Northern California already won approval under the old guidance. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 174 New Coronavirus Cases, No New Deaths

– 3:05 p.m., Sunday, May 17, 2020

San Diego health officials said 174 new COVID-19 cases were reported Saturday and no new deaths.

Officials said 4,363 new tests were conducted, with a positive rate of 4 percent. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests stands at 4.2 percent, health officials said.

Of the 5,836 total cases in the county, about 19 percent have required hospitalization and 5.7 percent of all cases have been placed in intensive care. The county’s death toll from COVID-19 remains at 209. — Laura McVicker, KPBS Social Media Strategist

California Nonprofits To Provide Disaster Relief For Immigrants

– 2:05 p.m., Sunday, May 17, 2020

The California Department of Social Services is funding twelve nonprofit organizations statewide, including Jewish Family Services in San Diego, to provide disaster relief assistance to undocumented immigrants.

The nonprofits will help people apply for and receive disaster relief assistance from the state. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1,000 in assistance per household.

Undocumented residents are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits or relief payments under the federal government’s CARES Act, which provides a maxiumum of $1,200 to qualifying U.S. citizens. — Laura McVicker, KPBS social media strategist

San Diego County Reports 139 New Cases, 2 New Deaths

– 3:40 p.m., Saturday, May 16, 2020

San Diego County health officials said 4,505 new COVID-19 tests were reported yesterday, with a positive rate of 3 percent. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is now at 4.2 percent.

139 new cases were reported in San Diego County, bringing the total to 5,662. 1,805 (19.1 percent) of cases have resulted in hospitalization, and 329 had required intensive care. The intensive care rate is 5.8 percent of all cases or 30.3 percent of all hospitalizations.

An additional two deaths were reported. Both were women, one in her late 60s and one in her early 80s. The death toll in the region is now 209, accounting for a duplicate discovered and removed from the report on Friday. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts Producer/Editor

Obama Criticizes Virus Response In Online Graduation Speech

– 2:45 p.m., Saturday, May 16, 2020

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday criticized some officials overseeing the coronavirus response, telling college graduates in an online commencement address that the pandemic shows many officials "aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Obama spoke on “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour livestreaming event for historically black colleges and universities broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. His remarks were surprisingly political and touched on current events beyond the virus and its social and economic impacts.

“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing," he said. “A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Obama did not name President Donald Trump or any other federal or state officials.

As he congratulated graduates and commiserated over the difficult world they face, the former president noted the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was killed while jogging on a residential street in Georgia.

“Let’s be honest: A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country," Obama said. "We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning.”

Obama will also deliver a televised prime-time commencement address later Saturday for the high school Class of 2020 during an hour-long event that will also feature LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai and Ben Platt, among others. – Associated Press

WATCH LIVE: San Diego State University Virtual 2020 Commencement Celebration

– 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 16, 2020

San Diego State University will honor its 2020 graduating class with a virtual commencement celebration at noon today.

Watch here:

For ASL or LSM interpretation needs, SDSU's Student Ability Success Center has coordinated a secure Zoom room.

San Diego To Add Three New COVID-19 Testing Sites

– 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 16, 2020

San Diego County health officials announced expanded COVID-19 testing and new testing sites in central and southeastern San Diego, beginning Monday.

The new locations include an appointment-only drive-up site in Mission Valley in the San Diego County Credit Union Stadium lot, with a capacity of 180 tests per day. The site will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. County residents should call 2-1-1 to make an appointment.

The County's Live Well on Wheels testing site at Euclid Health Center (292 Euclid Avenue) plans to continue offering drive-up testing each Saturday in the future. Appointments can be made by calling 2-1-1.

Beginning Tuesday, two new state-run walk-up testing sites will open at the Tubman-Chavez Center (415 Euclid Avenue) and in El Cajon at the San Diego County Assessor Office (200 S. Magnolia Avenue, El Cajon). This brings the total of regional state-run test sites to four, including existing sites in Escondido and Chula Vista. For appointments at the state-run facilities, go here or call (888) 634-1123.

COVID-19 testing options in the region include calling your doctor or medical provider to schedule an appointment, signing up on the state website, or calling 2-1-1. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts Producer/Editor

Hospital Ship USNS Mercy Arrives In San Diego

– 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 16, 2020

Photo by Mike Blake Reuters

Navy medical and support personnel staff the USNS Mercy, but the hospital ship belongs to the Navy's Military Sealift Command and is run by a crew of civilian mariners. The ship headed to the Port of Los Angeles on March 23 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Navy officials have announced the arrival of the hospital ship USNS Mercy to Naval Air Station North Island. San Diego is the home port for the ship.

The 1,000 bed ship spent nearly two months at the Port of Los Angeles, to support non-COVID-19 medical procedures so that health officials could dedicate other hospital beds for the coronavirus pandemic. 77 patients received care and 36 surgeries were performed — including the ship's historic first pacemaker replacement procedure — since the mission began in Los Angeles on March 27.

RELATED: Hospital Ship Mercy Departs Los Angeles Harbor For San Diego

The ship will now resume its "Ready 5" status for future COVID-19 or disaster relief support. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts Producer/Editor

Mask Distributions Planned In Southeast San Diego, San Ysidro

– 9:00 a.m., Saturday, May 16, 2020

Approximately 2,000 USDA-grade face masks will be distributed to business groups in Southeast San Diego and San Ysidro on Saturday. California State assemblymember Todd Gloria will help deliver the masks, which are intended to help workers stay safe and follow recent efforts to ramp up testing in the Southeast San Diego and San Ysidro regions. The deliveries will be received at 11 a.m. by the Southeastern Diamond Business District and at noon by the San Ysidro Business Improvement District. – KPBS Staff

San Diego's Crime Rate Drops 1.3% in 2019

– 6:50 p.m., Friday, May 15, 2020

Crime decreased in San Diego by 1.3% in 2019 which city leaders Friday credited to a "landmark contract agreement" and aggressive recruitment efforts to bolster the San Diego Police Department.

San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said that while homicides increased from 2018 to 2019, all other violent crimes — including sexual assaults, robberies and aggravated assaults — declined.

Violent crime was down nearly 3% while property crimes such as burglaries, thefts and vehicle thefts were also down, Nisleit said.

San Diego's 2019 violent crime rate was comparable to rates it experienced in the 1970s, while the property crime rate statistics are comparable to rates it experienced in the late 1950s, Nisleit said.

According to a statement from the city, four people out of 1,000 were the victim of a violent crime in 2019, while 19 people out of 1,000 were the victim of a property crime.

San Diego had the lowest violent crime rate per 1,000 residents among the nation's 10 largest cities, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. — City News Service

Jamul Casino To Reopen Next Week

– 6:45 p.m., Friday, May 15, 2020

Jamul Casino announced Friday it will reopen to the public on Thursday, May 21 after two months of closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The casino will have a soft reopening for its Amber and above Sweetwater Rewards Club VIP guests on May 18. It will join Valley View, Sycuan and Viejas casinos in opening next week.

In response to the pandemic, Jamul Casino closed on March 20 to protect the health and safety of its guests, employees and tribal members. It will begin its phased reopening Monday with physical-distance enhancements, increased cleaning protocols and improved gaming technology. The casino will expand to 24-hour operations beginning at 10 a.m. on May 21. — City News Service

Crimes Down Roughly 25% During Stay-at-Home Orders in San Diego County

– 4:15 p.m., Friday, May 15, 2020

Larceny crimes, such as car break-ins, have decreased roughly 25% in San Diego County in the past two months, amid stay-at-home orders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released Friday.

The report by the San Diego Association of Governments offers a snapshot of how crimes in four categories have been affected: aggravated assault, simple assault, larceny and domestic violence.

The agency looked at police reports in the county from March to April, then compared them to crimes reported during those two months in 2019.

WATCH LIVE here

During those periods of comparison, larceny crimes dropped from an average of 101 reports per day in March 2019 to 78 per day in March this year. Larceny reports also dropped from 100 per day in April 2019 to 74 per day in April this year.

Simple assault reports also decreased during that span, dropping from 53 and 57 reported per day in 2019 to 49 and 46 reported per day in March and April this year.

Daily domestic violence reports remained the same in March 2019 to March this year, but dropped from 45 in April last year to 43 in April this year.

Aggravated assault was the only category that saw a slight increase in one of the months, rising from 16 daily reports in April 2019 to 17 daily reports in April this year. Daily aggravated assault reports dropped from 19 in March 2019 to 16 in March this year. — City News Service

County Reports 132 New Coronavirus Cases, 8 Additional Deaths

– 3:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15, 2020

For the second day in a row, San Diego County recorded its highest amount of daily tests during the COVID-19 pandemic, and officials reported 132 new cases and eight additional deaths.

The 4,055 tests reported Friday edges out Thursday's record of 3,998. The 132 new cases mark just 3% of the tests, bringing the county's two-week rolling average down to 4.4% testing positive. The total number of tests completed in the county increased to 96,150.

The eight deaths reported Friday included people aged 65 to 94, all of whom had underlying medical conditions.

WATCH here

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that while the increasing number of tests and low positive rates were a good sign, they did not show the whole picture.

"It's not enough to just have a number of tests," he said.

Increased access in historically medically underserved regions of the county to testing would be necessary to battle the illness with any sort of effectiveness or equity, he said.

For that reason, the county will offer free tests in Southeast San Diego, including 70 tests on Saturday at the Euclid Health Center at 286 Euclid Ave. People who want to be tested should call 211 to make an appointment for the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. testing.

Additionally, a walk-in testing site at the Tubman-Chavez Community Center at 415 Euclid Ave will open its doors Tuesday, May 19, and has capacity for 132 testing appointments a day. — City News Service

Federal Judge Denies Chula Vista Church's Request To Reopen During Pandemic

– 3:15 p.m., Friday, May 15, 2020

A Chula Vista church's request to hold in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic was denied Friday by a San Diego federal judge, who rejected the church's argument that the state's reopening plan is dismissive of the religious rights of Californians.

South Bay United Pentecostal Church and its senior pastor, Bishop Arthur Hodges III, sued Gov. Gavin Newsom and a host of other state and local officials last week for placing churches and other places of worship under Stage 3 of California's reopening plan, which also includes movie theaters, salons and gyms.

The lawsuit filed in San Diego federal court alleges state and local elected officials have "intentionally denigrated California churches and pastors and people of faith by relegating them to third-class citizenship." — City News Service

Wonderfront Cancels 2020 Festival Because Of Coronavirus

– 11:30 a.m., Friday, May 15, 200

The organizing team behind San Diego's Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival announced Friday they have canceled the 2020 event, originally scheduled for November, in light of ongoing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wonderfront, which held its inaugural event in November 2019, will return in 2021, organizers said.

"This announcement greatly saddens us. We held out as long as possible, hoping we would see enough indications that a large-scale festival event in the fall might be a realistic endeavor," said Paul Thornton, managing partner of Wonderlust Events. "However, due to the time and effort it takes to pull off a successful large event of this nature, and signals from Governor Gavin Newsom that events like music festivals aren't likely to be allowed until 2021, this announcement had to be made now."

Wonderlust 2019 featured more than 125 artists playing across 10 stages over three days. The event took place on San Diego Bay from Broadway Pier to the Embarcadero parks. More than 57,000 people attended.

The event was held on Port of San Diego property, and that agency will work with organizers to ensure the new festival can continue. — City News Service

USNS Mercy To Return Home To San Diego After Providing Coronavirus Support In LA

– 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 14, 2020

The San Diego-based hospital ship USNS Mercy will return to its homeport Friday following nearly two months in Los Angeles, where it served as a relief valve while Southland medical centers coped with the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.

The 1,000-bed ship left San Diego on March 23 and sailed into the Port of Los Angeles on March 27, as local health authorities prepared for a feared surge of coronavirus cases that could have overwhelmed Southland hospitals. The ship was not brought in to treat COVID-19 cases, but to handle other patients and free up hospital beds for virus treatment. Medical personnel aboard the ship performed several surgeries during that span, including the first-ever pacemaker replacement procedure in the ship's history, according to the Navy.

The ship will depart Los Angeles at about 7 a.m. and is expected to arrive in San Diego late afternoon or early evening, according to the Navy. — City News Service

Three San Diego Reservoirs Open This Weekend For Recreation

– 5 p.m., Thursday, May 14, 2020

The city of San Diego is preparing to reopen three of its reservoirs for public recreation, with the Miramar and Murray reservoirs opening Friday, followed by the Lower Otay Reservoir on Saturday.

WATCH LIVE here

With new protocols in place, the three reservoirs will be open during regular business hours for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing and boating. Normal fishing and boating fees will apply.

Recreational users are asked to observe COVID-19 preventative measures, including mandates for facial coverings and physical distancing. More information is available on the city's website at sandiego.gov/coronavirus. — City News Service

San Diego Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 200

– 2:30 p.m., Thursday, May 14, 2020

A half-dozen additional San Diego County COVID-19 deaths and 113 new infections were reported Thursday, bringing the death toll to 200 and the total number of confirmed cases to 5,391.

County health officials also reported 3,998 COVID-19 tests Thursday, a single-day high. More than 92,000 tests have been administered since the pandemic began.

The two-week rolling average dropped again, with 3% of Thursday's tests proved positive. According to Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the expanded testing is allowing the county and its hospital partners to test more people who aren't obviously sick.

WATCH here

"As we continue to expand testing, we'll see those numbers go down," he said. "This is expected."

The region's hospitals currently have 380 COVID-19-positive patients, with 146 of those being treated in intensive care units. Since the pandemic began, 1,047 people have been hospitalized, 321 of whom spent some time in an ICU.

An estimated 3,364 people have recovered from COVID-19 in San Diego County. — City News Service

San Diego Symphony Cancels Summer Season, Postpones Opening New Venue, The Shell, Until Next Year

– 1:55 p.m., Thursday, May 14, 2020

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Port of San Diego

Artist rendering of the new bandshell to be built at the Embarcadero

The San Diego Symphony announced Thursday that it will be postponing its 2020 summer season and will delay the grand opening of a new outdoor venue until 2021.

The Shell, the symphony's new outdoor venue, was slated to open in July. However, due to health risks posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the symphony decided to postpone the opening "in the very best interest of all of our patrons, musicians, staff, and the health of San Diegans.

The move comes shortly after the symphony canceled the Spring 2020 season.

The symphony said that in the meantime, it will work to extend artist invitations to perform in the summer of 2021.

“Even though it makes me sad that we have to postpone the opening of The Shell, I’m really looking forward to when the time is right and we can be together again. The Shell, with its amazing location in beautiful San Diego and its magical surroundings, is going to be such a fantastic venue and I can’t wait to make music there,” said Music Director Rafael Payare.

Subscribers to the grand opening are encouraged to preserve their seats for 2021. However, the symphony also said subscribers can donate the value of their tickets to support the symphony through the pandemic.

The symphony website says ticket holders can reach out to the symphony directly for additional information and assistance. – KPBS Staff

Record-High County Unemployment Rate Tops 28%

– 1:05 p.m., May 15, 2020

San Diego County's estimated unemployment rose to a record-high 28.7% this week according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

This follows the previous week's 26.8% unemployment rate, also a record-high for the region, surpassing both the recession of 2008 and the Great Depression.

More than 34,000 San Diegans lost their jobs in the week reflected by the data, April 25 to May 2, before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order to open some industries May 8.

As Revenues Plummet, Proposed California Budget Cuts Billions

– 12:50 p.m., May 15, 2020

In a budget reflecting the financial hit the state is already seeing from the coronavirus pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday proposed cutting $6.1 billion from a variety of programs in a budget he says prioritizes public education, public health and public safety.

The forecast estimates unemployment to climb to nearly 25 percent and tax revenues will drop by about a quarter, he said.

“Nothing breaks my heart more than having to make budget cuts," he said. “There's a human being behind every single number."

Newsom plans to tap the state’s $16 billion rainy day fund over three years. Combined with money from two other funds, he’s proposing using $8.8 billion in reserve funds for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The $203 billion budget proposed Thursday is about a 5% decrease from the current year’s.

He eliminated a proposal to provide health care coverage to immigrants over 65 living in the county illegally, which would’ve cost an estimated $112 million. He similarly seeks to cancel other plans for expanding Medicaid.

On schools, Newsom is relying on roughly $4 billion in federal coronavirus funding as one way to bring in more money.

UCSD's Rady School Launches Local Business Recovery Coalition

– 11:00 a.m., May 14, 2020

UC San Diego's Rady School of Management Thursday launched the Rady School Business Recovery Coalition to help businesses in the region navigate the challenges created by COVID-19.

The coalition's purpose is to draw on expertise from the UC San Diego community to provide immediate free assistance and guidance to businesses.

"We recognize the incredible hardships businesses have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "The Rady School was founded in conjunction with local business leaders who envisioned the school as a catalyst of economic development. Today, that goal is more crucial than ever, and the Rady School is ready to respond."

Faculty from the Rady School and throughout UCSD will provide virtual advice and insight, according to the university. The services of the coalition will be managed by the school's Beyster Institute and the California Institute for Innovation and Development. – City News Service

WATCH: Mayor Faulconer To Give Update On City's Response To Coronavirus

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 13, 2020

WATCH LIVE here

National City Has San Diego County’s Highest Rate Of Coronavirus

– 3:22 p.m., Tuesday, May 13, 2020

National City, which has experienced the highest rate of COVID-19 cases among San Diego County cities, will be ramping up testing efforts in response, the city's mayor said Wednesday.

Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said the city will be offering additional free testing and has received two new point-in-care testing devices at Paradise Valley Hospital.

Sotelo-Solis said details regarding the new testing would be forthcoming, but said it would allow residents to obtain both free testing and food through the city's emergency food distribution initiative launched last week. – City News Service

County Government Offices Look To Reopen Friday; Could Spar With Tribal Casinos

– 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, May13, 2020

San Diego County officials continue to reopen portions of the economy — including county offices — but could come into conflict with local tribal casinos as those businesses plan reopenings in the next two weeks.

As the county balances the reopening of some businesses amid calls to reopen, 117 new positive COVID-19 tests and five deaths were reported Wednesday. The total number of positive cases rose to 5,278, while the five deaths bring the total number of fatalities to 194.

The ages of the deceased range from 56 to 97, and all had underlying health issues, according to Public Health Services.

Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine announced plans last week to reopen on May 18, and Sycuan Casino Resort plans to open May 20. Local casinos have been closed for nearly two months.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said the county had a problem with those dates.

"We do not agree with the reopening of casinos on May 18," she said. "Opening of casinos will cause a risk to our public health. That is clear." – City News Service

California Prepares For Fire Season Under COVID-19

– 3:10 p.m., Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Even as most of the state is preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic, California is poised to enter another danger zone — wildfire season.

The governor devoted most of his Wednesday briefing, delivered from a fire station in El Dorado County, to address the state's efforts to ramp up for fire season, pointing out that there have been 1,135 wildfires this year so far — a 60% increase over the same period last year.

Newsom said he is proposing a budget boost of $127 million for the state's Office of Emergency Services (OES), with $50 million in funding to assist counties in handling expected public safety power shutoffs, and to hire 600 additional personnel to help fight fires.

WATCH here:

Also during Wednesday's briefing, OES Director Mark Ghilarducci laid out options for conducting wildfire evacuations while maintaining quarantine procedures under COVID-19. These include creating separate evacuation centers, and potentially using hotel rooms to house COVID-positive evacuees.

"We're obviously going to be working through these [issues] in real-time, and we're going to be assessing each individual case as they're presented to us," he added.

Newsom also announced the creation of a 106-person wildfire safety division within the Public Utilities Commission to oversee the state's largest investor-owned utilities, including PG&E, as part of efforts to prevent future wildfires. — Monica Lam/KQED

San Diego Superior Court Livestreams Proceedings During COVID-19 Closures

– 12:25 p.m., Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The San Diego Superior Court began livestreaming criminal court proceedings Wednesday on its YouTube page in order to provide public access during the court's COVID-19-related closures.

While county courthouses remain shuttered to the public until at least May 26, criminal proceedings have been ongoing for defendants who remain in custody.

In an order signed Tuesday, Presiding Judge Lorna A. Alksne wrote that while public health concerns require the courts to remain closed, livestreaming proceedings would be permitted "in an effort to provide expanded public access to court proceedings consistent with (the court's) Sixth Amendment responsibilities."

Currently, livestreaming access is available for a select number of departments at the downtown San Diego courthouse, with only audio available.

Alksne's order says the livestreaming will be in effect through May 22, the last day San Diego courts are slated to remain closed to the public.

Judges will have the discretion to "refuse, limit, or terminate such broadcasts, in whole or in part," the order states.

The order also prohibits any viewers from photographing, recording, or rebroadcasting anything without judicial authorization, a rule already in effect when courthouses were open to the public.

The livestreams can be accessed here. — City News Service

Border Regional Group Announced; Face Shields And Ventilators Donated To Tijuana

– 7:05 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer Tuesday announced the establishment of a binational, regional group responsible for monitoring the potential impacts of COVID-19 and cross-border travel between the United States and Mexico on San Diego health care and emergency resources.

The San Diego Region Border Unified Command was established last month and consists of more than a dozen local, state and federal agencies, which will track and respond to any impacts brought on by U.S. citizens crossing into the U.S. from Mexico to seek treatment for COVID-19 or other illnesses.

"The objectives of this group are really to monitor cross-border health care systems and to plan and prepare for impacts from the pandemic," Faulconer said.

Projections show Mexico may hit its COVID-19 peak in the coming weeks, putting a strain on health care systems south of the border, according to city officials, who said the border group meets twice a week "with daily data reports to prepare for potential scenarios and reduce the impact on San Diego County resources."

WATCH here:

Faulconer said "COVID-19 knows no boundaries, so our border region is working together to monitor the situation in Baja and preparing for healthcare impacts in the San Diego region should they arise."

Faulconer also announced Tuesday that San Diego will donate 1,000 3D- printed face shields to Tijuana, Mexico for use in public hospitals.

The face shields were printed in San Diego libraries, which have been closed to the public due to the pandemic and utilized in the meantime to produce face shields for local hospital workers.

City officials said the printers can produce about 300 face shields per week, with more than 1,600 produced and donated over the past month.

A donation of five ventilators will also be made by CalDART, a group that uses general aviation aircraft for disaster airlifts, which will manufacture and distribute the emergency ventilators.

Tijuana Mayor Arturo Gonzalez-Cruz said the donations "without a doubt will protect our medical staff that everyday works tirelessly." — City News Service

15 More Coronavirus Deaths Reported In San Diego County

– 4:15 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020

San Diego County approved the opening of another round of businesses and services Tuesday, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's guidance toward reopening California's economy, as county officials reported 96 new COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths.

Office-based businesses are permitted to reopen, although Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said county health officials still "strongly encourage telework."

Malls — indoor, outdoor and strip malls — are also allowed to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery only.

WATCH here

Other businesses or services able to open Tuesday included car washes, pet grooming businesses, landscaping businesses and outdoor museums and gathering places.

These businesses can open as soon as ready, but must first fill out the safe reopening plan located on the county's website.

Newsom also released guidelines for the state's restaurant industry to reopen safely. While there is no timeline attached to opening restaurants, the guidelines allow business owners to prepare for that day.

"We are moving consistently as a state," Fletcher said.

With the new case numbers and deaths reported Tuesday, the county's totals rose to 5,161 cases and 190 deaths. The 15 additional deaths occurred between May 7 and May 11. All of the deceased had underlying health conditions and their ages ranged from 56 to 92, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. — City News Service

Santee Lawmaker Calls on Newsom To Re-Open Houses Of Worship

– 4 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020

State Sen. Brian Jones of Santee called on Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday to re-open all places of worship that have been ordered temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In his letter to the governor's office, Jones, a Republican, argued that houses of worship should have been deemed "essential in the first place" under the First Amendment when officials crafted stay-at-home orders in March.

Jones further claimed that churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are all able to follow the guidelines set out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for essential businesses, and therefore can safely open their doors.

"Houses of worship are more than capable of observing CDC guidelines on social distancing and cleanliness," Jones wrote.

Places of worship are not permitted to hold public services under California's current stay-at-home orders, although many continue to hold virtual services.

Newsom did announce the modifications of some state regulations on Tuesday, giving individual counties the authority to allow shopping malls, strip malls and outlet malls to reopen with curbside pickup.

A similar letter was also sent to San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox. — City News Service

California Recommends Masks For Servers, Disposable Menus

– 1:40 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020

California is recommending restaurants screen guests for symptoms, have servers wear masks and keep diners at least six feet (1.8 meters) apart once they reopen under guidance released Tuesday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration didn't set a strict limit on the number of diners allowed but gave suggestions on how to limit crowding such as using outdoor seating and encouraging take-out where possible.

The guidance will take effect only once counties are cleared by the state to move forward, with more rural areas with few virus cases expected to reopen dine-in restaurants more quickly than places like Los Angeles.

WATCH here:

Restaurants have been walloped by the stay-at-home order in California, which has allowed take-out orders but not in-person dining due to concerns about the virus's spread. Restaurant owners have been forced to layoff staff as these orders are often a fraction of their business and they have been rallying to reopen their doors.

Other recommendations include providing disposable menus or disinfecting them before and after use and putting an end to pre-set tables. The state also suggests suspending the use of salt and pepper shakers, wherever possible, or supplying as needed and disinfecting them.

Masks would be recommended for all restaurant workers and required for any who come within six feet of customers.

The California Restaurant Association had previously drafted a list of recommendations that included limiting tables to no more than 10 people. Salad bars, buffets and shared breadbaskets would be out.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. — Associated Press

San Diego Community College District Joins Suit Over COVID-19 Relief Funds

12:25 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The San Diego Community College District has joined a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education to allow California community colleges to use relief funds Congress approved to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit, filed Monday against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, asks the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to declare the Department of Education's eligibility requirements for emergency grants to students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act unlawful and unconstitutional and to halt their implementation.

The San Diego Community College District, the Los Angeles Community College District, the Sacramento-area Los Rios Community College District, the Fresno-area State Center Community College District and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Los Altos Hills are part of the case.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is representing the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and chancellor.

"The Department of Education ignored the intent of the CARES Act to give local colleges discretion to aid students most affected by the pandemic, and instead has arbitrarily excluded as many as 800,000 community college students," said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

"Among those harmed are veterans, citizens who have not completed a federal financial aid application and non-citizens, including those with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status," Oakley said.

The California Community Colleges serves an estimated 70,000 undocumented students, many of whom have DACA status.

"Although immediately following enactment of the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Education took the position that this emergency relief is available for all students and that each higher education institution had discretion on how to distribute aid, it later issued guidance that took the position that only students eligible for federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act may receive emergency federal assistance," according to a California Community Colleges statement.

Also excluded are students who do not have a high school diploma or GED and those who are in high school and participating in dual enrollment programs. — City News Service

Bike to Work Day Event Cancelled Due To COVID-19

12:15 p.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The San Diego Association of Governments has canceled its 30th Annual Bike to Work Day, originally scheduled for this Thursday.

"SANDAG is committed to protecting all potential Bike to Work Day participants, staff, and volunteers," an association statement said. "After careful consideration and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the region, the SANDAG iCommute team has decided to officially postpone their biggest annual event until next year."

The event is scheduled to return next year, and instead of the in-person commuting event this year, SANDAG will focus on providing digital resources for bike commuting and education and launching a new Shared Streets pilot program.

"There's no time like the present to get outside and jump on your bike," SANDAG Vice-Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. "The SANDAG iCommute program is working hard to support biking and walking as a form of exercise and an alternative to get to and from work. While there are fewer cars on the road, take advantage of the opportunity to try bike commuting for shorter trips. Habits established during this unusual time can lead to a healthier lifestyle."

On Thursday, SANDAG will host a webinar for people to learn essential skills for bike commuting, including how to ride safely and legally, route planning strategies and valuable tips to make bike commuting more comfortable and enjoyable. Blakespear will make welcoming remarks and update participants about the San Diego regional bike network.

Interested parties can register for the webinar at iCommuteSD.com/bike.

SANDAG is also launching the Shared Streets pilot program this month. It will provide up to $5,000 to each of the 18 cities and the county of San Diego for temporary improvements that create safe and healthy spaces for people to bike, walk, run, scoot and more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications are open now, and due by May 22. Visit sandag.org/SharedStreets to learn more. — City News Service

CSU To Continue Online Instruction During Fall Term

– 11:45 a.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Classes will remain primarily online during the fall term throughout the California State University system, Chancellor Timothy White announced Tuesday, saying predictions of possible surges in COVID-19 cases later in the year mandate steps to protect students and faculty.

Speaking to members of the CSU Board of Trustees during an online meeting, White said there will be "limited exceptions for in-person activities that cannot be delivered virtually, are indispensable to the university's core mission and can be conducted within the rigorous standards of safety and welfare."

He said such exceptions could include clinical nursing classes, life- science laboratory courses and interactive architecture or engineering programs.

"But anything done on a campus this fall won't be as it was in the past, it will be different," White said. "This is a new and expensive reality for us. For those limited courses where in-person instruction is indispensable and can be justified, enrollment per section will be less."

He said social-distancing guidelines will also be mandated, along with personal protective equipment and heightened cleaning standards.— City News Serivce

Callaway Golf Donates $100,000 To Nonprofit MedShare For Protective Equipment

– 7 p.m., Monday, May 11, 2020

Carlbad-based Callaway Golf Co. Monday announced a $100,000 donation to the nonprofit humanitarian aid organization MedShare for its COVID-19 response work.

MedShare delivers surplus medical supplies and equipment to communities around the world. The organization is providing personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to health care workers and patients battling COVID-19.

Since the U.S. became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, MedShare has donated more than 1.3 million units of equipment to more than 140 hospitals, community clinics and other nonprofit organizations nationwide, according to the organization.

"We appreciate Callaway Golf's generous support of our COVID-19 relief efforts," said MedShare President and CEO Charles Redding. "The impact of COVID-19 on our communities and our health care professionals has been significant. This donation will further enhance our efforts to get personal protective equipment and other critical supplies to the health care professionals who need it the most."

Callaway Golf President and CEO Chip Brewer said the company is "proud to support MedShare and their ongoing relief efforts with this donation. We appreciate the incredible work that their organization is doing, and we want to thank all of the health care professionals who are working bravely, tirelessly and selflessly to help keep us safe." — City News Service

San Diego Sheriff Sees No Ground To Charge Santee Shopper Who Wore KKK-Style Hood At Supermarket

– 6:40 p.m., Monday, May 11, 2020

Authorities announced Monday that they have no grounds on which to seek criminal charges against a grocery shopper who said he donned a Ku Klux Klan-style hood at a Santee supermarket out of "frustration" over having to wear a facial covering in public during the coronavirus crisis.

The man, whose name has not been publicly released, concealed his head with the pointed white hood during a May 2 visit to a Vons store in the 9600 block of Mission Gorge Road.

Other patrons took photos of the masked man and posted them online, drawing outrage from local leaders and civil rights organizations that condemned the display of a key symbol of a racist hate group.

When questioned by detectives, the man "expressed frustration with having people tell him what he can and cannot do" during the pandemic, according to a statement from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

"He said that wearing the hood was not intended to be a racial statement," the agency's statement says. "In summary, he said, `It was a mask, and it was stupid."'

After interviewing witnesses and reviewing video evidence, investigators determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge the man with any crime, according to the department. — City News Service

SDSU Disbursed $14 Million In CARES Act Funding To Students During Pandemic

– 4:50 p.m., Monday, May 11, 2020

San Diego State University announced Monday that $14 million in federal CARES Act funding has been disbursed to students in need of financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SDSU has been allocated a total of $29 million in CARES Act funding for students experiencing financial challenges due to the pandemic.

SDSU says half of the funds went to eligible students beginning last week to assist with food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care, while the remaining funding will cover unanticipated COVID-19- related expenses, faculty and staff retention, and support for other needs for this fall.

Grant awards ranged from $250 to $800 for eligible graduate and undergraduate students, with amounts differing based on full-time or part-time enrollment status, financial aid eligibility status and other factors.

Students were required to have a 2019-20 FAFSA on file to be eligible, but those who filed a FAFSA but need additional funding were advised to fill out a CARES Act application, with additional funding available through the Economic Crisis Response Team. Those who did not fill out a FAFSA form were advised to do so, if they believe they meet the Title IV eligibility requirements.

"We know how challenging and financially difficult the pandemic has been for some members of our community," a campus-wide email sent to SDSU students says. "We appreciate having the support of the U.S. Department of Education, and also for our many donors who have provided their own funds to support students who need immediate financial relief. Our hope is that the federal funds offered, along with other support SDSU has already put into place, will further reduce burdens faced by our students and their families." — City News Serivce

Southwestern College Students Eligible For Federal CARES Act Funding

– 4:45 p.m., Monday, May 11, 2020

outhwestern College students can apply Monday for federal CARES Act funding, making the school the first community college in the region to disburse the funds to its students.

According to the college, $4.62 million in Federal Emergency Relief Grant funding is available for students' food, housing, course materials, health care, technology, child care and other much-needed resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students can only apply once for the funding. Applications are available at https://www.swccd.edu/admissions-and-financial-aid/financial-aid/.

Undocumented students, DACA students, AB 540 students or students enrolled in noncredit courses are ineligible, though other funding sources are available for those students, according to Southwestern College officials.

"The pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to our students and college operations," said Governing Board President Nora E. Vargas. "While Southwestern and its partners have done so much to provide free technology, food and other assistance, we are grateful to be able to put these dollars directly into the hands of our students."

The first distribution of funding is expected on or around May 18 and will be disbursed by the college's financial aid department until it runs out.

The college has also been providing funding to its student body through its SWC Cares emergency grant program, which awards funds ranging from $200 to $700 depending on a number of factors, including the student's potential job loss or participation in college support services.

"At Southwestern College, we are committed to continue working with our foundation and other entities to assist our students — especially our students who have few other resources," Vargas said. "We urge our California legislators and the governor to provide assistance to our immigrant students during this pandemic." — City News Service

WATCH: Mayor Faulconer, County Chairman Cox Urge Governor To Let County Decide

– 4:30 p.m., Monday, May 11, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday, urging him to give San Diego County the authority to open sections of its economy as its leaders see fit.

Faulconer posted a copy of the letter on his Twitter page and wrote: "Urging the Governor to give consistent and achievable metrics for a safe reopen. Some state requirements aren't realistic and would keep folks unemployed for many months if left in place. This isn't about returning to normal. It's about letting us get started with the new normal."

Cox and Faulconer contend in the letter that Newsom's orders have been confused and misguided.

"Some of the state's 'Stage 2 Readiness Criteria' released on May 7, such as the restriction that a county has 'No COVID-19 death in the past 14 days,' are not realistic standards that can be met any time soon in large counties across the state," they wrote.

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego County reported 150 new COVID-19 cases and zero deaths on Sunday. The total number of cases in the county rose to 4,926 and the number of deaths remained unchanged at 175.

The leaders say that with social distancing and other public health orders, the highly contagious virus' spread can be limited, while noting that scores of out-of-work San Diegans are struggling under stay-at-home orders.

"The current phasing approach has confused and frustrated millions of workers who have been pushed into unemployment and are struggling to make ends meet," their letter reads.

The San Diego region's estimated unemployment rate rose to 26.8% last week amid the coronavirus pandemic, a high not seen since the Great Depression, according to a report released by the San Diego Association of Governments.

According to the SANDAG analysis, 450,000 people are out of work in the San Diego region, more than 400,000 of whom lost employment after March 7 — which public health officials have pinpointed as the date the health crisis began locally.

With some retail businesses -- such as sporting good stores, book shops and florists -- reopening last Friday, those numbers have likely fluctuated, but the current and long-term scope of the pandemic remains unclear.

Dine-in restaurants, bars, shopping malls, car washes and other businesses are next in line to reopen under Newsom's phased plan, but when that is remains to be seen.

"Our businesses are ready to thoughtfully reopen and adapt with necessary protective measures, but they need to be provided that opportunity," the Faulconer/Cox letter states. "We know `how' many of our businesses can operate in this new normal. Now our communities are looking for clear and practical guidelines on 'when."' — City News Service

San Diego Crosses 5,000 Mark In Positive Cases

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, May 11, 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County topped 5,000 Monday, but the death toll remained unchanged for the second day in a row.

County health officials reported 139 new cases, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 5,065. The number of deaths stands at 175.

As of Monday, 390 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with 142 in intensive care units. There have been an estimated 2,966 recoveries from the illness in the region since the pandemic began.

WATCH here:

Of the 2,638 tests reported to the county on Monday, 5% were positive new cases. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is closing in on 5% following significant downward trends in positive case percentages. Officials have set a goal of 5,200 daily tests, and even with weekend testing at more than 3,000 per day, the county is well short.

According to the county's public health officer, the age range of COVID-19 goes from 3 months to 101 years old.

Dr. Wilma Wooten reported 63 active outbreaks in the county, with 41 in congregate living facilities traced to 1,344 cases and 89 deaths, and 22 community outbreaks with 232 cases and five deaths traced to them. — City News Service

Western States Ask Federal Government For $1 Trillion In COVID-19 Relief Funds

– 1:20 p.m., Monday, May 11, 2020

In a new joint letter to the federal government, the Western States Compact — signed by officials in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado — is requesting funding in the range of $1 trillion dollars to provide financial relief, said Gov. Gavin Newsom during his daily press conference.

"This is the requirement of this moment. This gives you a sense of the thrust of the needs that we are all feeling — as states, as regions, as cities — that are required to get through this pandemic," he said.

This comes one week after state officials estimated that California's budget would see a more than $54 billion budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's not just states asking for a bailout. Quite the contrary, it's requesting that we support those that we need the most at this time — our public safety officials, our public health officials and make sure we do justice to our public education system," Newsom explained.

WATCH here:

On the subject of regional variances — which allow some counties to more quickly enter a full rollout of the second stage of the state's shelter-in-place order — Newsom said 19 counties have provided their plans to state officials, and meetings are scheduled with nine additional counties.

But he again underscored these decisions will be made based on public health metrics.

"We will work with every county, every city, in a practical and responsible way. But here's the caveat: This is a health-driven conversation," Newsom said.

The governor plans to provide more formal guidelines and updates on how counties will move forward during his daily briefing on Tuesday. — Michelle Wiley/KQED

FDA Authorizes San Diego Company To Market First Coronavirus Antigen Test

– 3:40 p.m. Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration has given a San Diego company, Quidel Corp., emergency-use authorization for its COVID-19 antigen test.

Company officials said the FDA gave them permission Saturday to market their Sofia 2 SARS Antigen FIA, a rapid point-of-care test for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in nasal specimens from patients meeting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.

"These diagnostic tests quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs," the FDA said. "One of the main advantages of an antigen test is the speed of the test, which can provide results in minutes. Positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection."

"In the fight against COVID-19, our employees are truly making a difference, and I am tremendously proud of our organization's ability to quickly develop and mobilize an accurate rapid antigen test," said Douglas Bryant, president and chief executive officer of Quidel Corporation.

Currently, there are two types of tests in wide use for COVID-19: polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests and antibody tests.

PCR tests are used to diagnose active cases of the disease and are highly accurate but can take longer to show results. Antibody tests work to see if someone's body has created antibodies to combat the virus, though health experts warn that antibodies don't necessarily mean that someone is immune to COVID-19.

Antigen tests don't work in the same way PCR tests do, but can similarly detect if a person is sick with COVID-19.

Antigen tests are also cheaper and easier to mass-produce because of their simplistic design, the FDA said.

Health experts and lawmakers have said widespread testing is key to safely reopening the country, but warn that current testing falls short. - City News Service

San Diego Assemblywoman Offers Blunt Response To Tesla Chief’s Threats To Leave State

– 3 p.m. Sunday, May 10, 2020

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, didn’t waste time in responding to Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk’s latest missive in his fight against Alameda County’s shelter-in-place orders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, Musk announced on the Tesla website that the high-end electric car manufacturer is suing the Bay Area county because of the orders, which have kept its plant in Fremont closed. Also on Saturday, he sent a series of tweets in which he castigated Alameda county officials and vowed to move his operations out of state.

“Frankly, this is the final straw,” one of Musk’s tweets read. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”

Gonzalez’s response came Saturday evening: “F*ck Elon Musk,” she tweeted.

Gonzalez elaborated on her profane tweet Sunday morning, accusing the company of having poor worker safety policies and also benefiting from state subsidies.

“California has highly subsidized a company that has always disregarded worker safety & well-being, has engaged in union busting & bullies public servants,” Gonzalez tweeted. “I probably could’ve expressed my frustration in a less aggressive way. Of course, no one would’ve cared if I tweeted that.”

Gonzalez further pointed out that the coronavirus has impacted the Latino community especially hard.

“And, the deaths from Covid-19 in California are disproportionately Latino. Our communities have been the hardest hit. By far,” she tweeted. “Maybe that’s why we take the public health officials’ warning and directions so seriously.”

In its lawsuit filed in federal court, Tesla accused the Alameda County Health Department of overstepping federal and state coronavirus restrictions when it stopped Tesla from restarting production at its factory. The lawsuit contends Tesla factory workers are allowed to work during California’s stay-at-home order because the facility is considered “critical infrastructure.”

- KPBS Staff And Associated Press Reports

Californians Can Hike, Shop And Golf As Virus Restrictions Ease

– 9:05 a.m. Sunday, May 10, 2020

Hiking to the Hollywood sign and hitting the links is being allowed this weekend as the California county hardest hit by the coronavirus cautiously reopened some sites to recreation-starved stay-at-homers.

Los Angeles County permitted the reopening of trails and golf courses but with social distancing restrictions. For those interested in retail therapy, there was even better news as Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday allowed tens of thousands of stores to reopen, including florist shops, just in time for Mother's Day.

The city of Los Angeles announced it also was reopening some public spaces, including sprawling Griffith Park, which includes popular paths to the Hollywood sign.

But mounted police and park rangers would be keeping hikers to small, distant groups wearing face coverings. Mayor Eric Garcetti urged “good judgment” and said the city would rely on education and encouragement rather than heavy-handed enforcement.

It was “not our vision to make this like a junior high school dance with people standing too close to each other,” he said.

County beaches could reopen next week with restrictions designed to keep people from thronging the shore and possibly spreading COVID-19.

“We don’t want a stampede to the beaches,” Nicole Mooradian, spokeswoman for the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, told the Los Angeles Times. “Right now we’re planning for Wednesday.”

Los Angeles County, the state’s largest with 10 million residents, has more than half California’s roughly 2,700 virus deaths and has seen dozens of new deaths daily. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer acknowledged the risk that easing restrictions could lead to a new spike in infections.

“There is a lot at stake,” Ferrer said. “Reopening our county, even slowly, only works if we’re all really committed to being careful.”

But pressure has been building to reopen the state, seven weeks after Newsom's stay-at-home order shut down nonessential businesses and told 40 million residents to stay mainly in their homes.

More than 4 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. The California Department of Finance is projecting an unemployment rate of 18%, or 46% higher than the peak of the Great Recession a decade ago.

On Friday, Newsom eased the order and said roughly 70% of the state's businesses can open with restrictions.

Weekend shoppers can visit bookstores, as well as stores for jewelry, toys, clothing, shoes, home supplies and furnishing, sporting goods, antiques and music. People can’t browse but must pick up purchases curbside. Car dealerships also got the nod, with some showroom restrictions.

“There’s a slow trickle of customers, nothing compared to pre-pandemic numbers but it’s a little something,” said Gigi Garcia, who began offering curbside shopping Friday in front of her kids clothing store It Takes A Village in Montrose, a foothill community 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of downtown Los Angeles.

She said business won't pick up until people can dine in the restaurants surrounding her shop again.

“You have no idea how much business the restaurants bring in for us,” she said. “We all feed off each other.”

While San Francisco and six Bay Area counties have said they won’t ease their own retail restrictions for another week or longer, nearly two dozen counties — many of them small, rural populations with few coronavirus cases — want to move faster than called for under Newsom’s four-phase reopening plan.

The governor said the state will allow that under strict criteria based on the number of cases, deaths and tests.

But the state also sent a stern warning to three Northern California counties that have been defying his orders. Leaders in Yuba, Sutter and Modoc counties have allowed businesses to reopen that are outside the scope of Newsom’s plan, including dine-in restaurants, hair and nail salons and shopping malls.

On Friday, California’s Office of Emergency Services told Yuba, Sutter and Modoc they could lose federal disaster aid if they continued ignoring the governor’s order.

The state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, which issues permits for hair and nail services, similarly said it was warning violators they could lose licenses.

The Sutter County Board of Supervisors voted Saturday to pass a proposal telling the state the public health officer for the two counties attests they meet state criteria for broader reopening, the Appeal Democrat reported.

California is now in stage two of Newsom's four-phase process. The governor on Friday did provide a glimmer of hope that phase three, which would allow reopening of such businesses as nail salons, isn’t far off. That phase would also allow for the reopening of churches, movie theaters and some hospitality services.

“It’s not six months away, it’s not even three months away. It may not even be more than a month away,” Newsom said. “We just want to make sure that we have a protocol in place to secure customer safety, employer safety, and allow the businesses to thrive in a way that is sustainable.”

To move more quickly to reopen restaurants, malls, office buildings, childcare facilities and services such as car washes and pet grooming, counties must demonstrate they’ve had zero deaths and just one case per 10,000 residents during a two-week stretch, as well as robust testing and tracing and an ability to house up to 15% of the homeless.

Los Angeles County has no chance of being fast-tracked, said Ferrer, the public health director. A Los Angeles Times analysis found that 95% of Californians live in counties that don’t meet the standards.

“This may apply much more easily for those very small counties that already have in fact seen a significant decrease or may have had no deaths at all to date," she said. “But for the larger counties, we will only be able to apply for a variance under these conditions when the pandemic is over.”

Meanwhile, a fifth inmate from the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County died Saturday at an outside hospital from what appeared to be complications related to COVID-19, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. - Associated Press

Oceanside City Councilman Encourages Residents To Violate County Health Protocols

– 8:20 a.m. Sunday, May 10, 2020

An Oceanside city councilman was castigated by the city's mayor for urging nonessential businesses and houses of worship to violate COVID-19 protocols by reopening ahead of schedule and asking residents to disregard county- and state-mandated regulations by patronizing them.

"I'm convinced that the constitutional rights of Oceanside residents and businesses have been trampled upon and I choose to take a stand," Councilman Christopher Rodriguez wrote in a statement. "If your business has been labeled 'nonessential' and you share my convictions, then I encourage you to open immediately and to please follow all social-distancing, face mask and sterilization protocols that essential businesses and employees are currently following."

Rodriguez called on the city's residents "to safely patronize and support these businesses," and he called for "nonprofits to serve again, and houses of worship to worship again."

Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss responded Saturday, saying Rodriguez was merely expressing his personal views, and did do not reflect the official position of the city, which is adhering to the latest San Diego County Health Officer's orders allowing retail stores to reopen with curbside and delivery service only.

"The Oceanside City Council did vote to open all businesses as soon as possible, however, the latest County Health Order limits business openings," Weiss said. "Neither the City Council nor individual council members have the authority to direct any business to violate the county orders."

He also warned that the city's police department would enforce the health order. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 114 New Cases, 7 New Deaths

– 3:00 p.m. Saturday, May 9, 2020

County health officials announced a total of 3,401 new tests performed yesterday, with a total of 114 new positive cases. The total positive cases for San Diego County residents is now 4,776.

938 of the cases required hospitalization, and 291 cases required intensive care.

Seven additional deaths were reported for a total of 175 total deaths for the region. Of the new deaths, the age range was 56 to 101 years old, five were men and all seven cases had underlying health conditions. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts Producer/Editor

More Testing Arrives In Southeast San Diego

– 1:15 p.m. May 9, 2020

Southeastern San Diego County is getting more COVID-19 testing this weekend, as demand has outstripped testing capacity in the area.

Last weekend, the 24 drive-through testing appointments at the Euclid Medical Center in Southeast San Diego were quickly filled. This led local doctors to call on the county to increase testing capacity in the area.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher promised that the county would be focusing on that. On Saturday, the county reopened the drive-through site, with more than double the previous amount of available appointments.

On Saturday, drivers arrived in ten-minute increments to check in, get tested, and drive off, all in under twenty minutes.

People experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 still have to receive a doctor’s referral and call 2-1-1 make an appointment at the site, in contrast to the walk-up sites that opened this week in Chula Vista, El Cajon, and Escondido.

On Sunday, the county will open a second site in the area, offering another thirty appointments. – Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS Reporter

Viejas, Pechanga Casinos Announce Reopening Plans

– 12:15 p.m., May 9, 2020

Viejas and Pechanga casinos have announced plans to reopen within the next few weeks. Viejas Casino, in Alpine, said it will open on May 18th. Pechanga Casino, in Temecula, today announced a reopening time frame of June 1.

In its announcement, Viejas said it has enhanced its cleaning protocols, including “hospital grade UVC germicidal technology that will be utilized to sterilize the property each day. To that end, we will be closing from 3:00 am to 7:00 am daily to UVC treat all of our high contact surfaces.” The casino also said it has installed hand sanitizers throughout the resort, and that guests and employees will be required to practice social distancing.

Pechanga said it will be a few days before it confirms its planned June 1 reopening, and warns patrons that the casino will look different in some ways. There will be fewer slot machines and table game positions, and restaurant seating will also be reduced. Employees will be required to wear face coverings, and the casino said guests will likely have to do the same. Pechanga said there will be no concerts or major events in the near term. – Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

YMCA Gets $1M To Open Summer Camps

– 11:40 a.m. Saturday, May 9

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher joined officials from the San Diego YMCA and the San Diego Foundation this morning to announce a $1M grant from the foundation to help the YMCA open its camps for children this summer. The money comes from the foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, and is the largest single grant from that fund to date.

The grant money will help cover camp scholarships for low-income campers. The YMCA is still determining how many children will benefit from the grant. Fletcher noted the YMCA has historically been the county’s largest summerr child care provider. – Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

Pregnant Woman With COVID-19 Delivers Baby While In Coma At UC San Diego Health

– 11:15 a.m. Saturday, May 9, 2020

A pregnant woman admitted to the ICU in late March after testing positive for COVID-19 has delivered a baby, UC San Diego Health officials said in a news release today. The woman was intubated, placed in a coma and delivered her baby via emergency cesarean section.

The baby girl was born healthy at 32 weeks gestation, tested negative for COVID-19 and was cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The mother awoke from her coma almost a month later and learned she had delivered her baby.

"Before we went into the main operating room because of how sick she was, we did a huge pre-brief, with the ICU team, the OR team, the NICU team. We all came together because this was such a big case between mom and baby, just because of the unknown between the two of them — trying to figure out how they could safely get this baby out and get the mom safely recovered postpartum and also with her respiratory and cardiac function at the time," said Zerrin Hill, clinical NICU nurse at UC San Diego Health.

Mother and baby were discharged this week, a few days before Mother's Day.

"I'm just trying to recover lost time," Blanca Morena, the mother, said. Reading from a written statement, she continued, "I want to thank the entire medical team, nurses and doctors, for the great work they have done in helping my Atziri – my baby – when she needed me the most and I couldn’t be there for her. Also, thank you very much to all the medical teams researching and working on this disease since it began to appear. Thanks to all of you I’m a survivor of COVID." – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/Arts Producer/Editor

WATCH LIVE: County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher And YMCA To Announce Summer Camp And Childcare Initiative

– 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 9, 2020

Watch live:

San Diego City, County Direct $10 Million For Frontline Worker Childcare

– 6:14 p.m., Friday, May 8, 2020

The city and county of San Diego announced Friday that $10 million in federal stimulus funding will be directed toward expanding childcare services for workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city will match $5 million in CARES Act funding approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors earlier this week for child care.

"Child care and the economy are fundamentally linked. If parents can access child care, they're more likely to enter the workforce and of course, to stay employed," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "School and child care closures really put an incredible burden on working parents throughout San Diego County."

WATCH here:

Health care workers, first responders, emergency medical services personnel, grocery store staff and child care providers are among those eligible to receive assistance. Eligibility will be prioritized for at-risk individuals and families with disabilities and special health care needs, Faulconer said.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said, "An important part of having people get back to work is ensuring the availability of child care at a time when our schools are closed when grandparents are not the best place for kids to be given their vulnerability because of age, we have to do everything we can to ensure that there are more child care opportunities available for workers as they go back to work." — City News Service

Chula Vista Church, Local Rabbi, Sue State And Local Officials Over Coronavirus Church Closures

– 4:20 p.m., May 8, 2020

A Chula Vista church, its senior pastor and a Carmel Valley rabbi sued Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state and local officials Friday for not including churches and other places of worship among the state's Stage 2 sectors cleared for reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Bay United Pentecostal Church, the church's senior pastor Bishop Arthur Hodges III and Rabbi Mendel Polichenco of Chabad of Carmel Valley take issue with places of worship being slotted as a Stage 3 sector within the state's reopening plan, which would also include "salons, tattoo parlors, gyms, bars and movie theaters," according to the lawsuit filed in San Diego federal court.

"This new regime, where manufacturing, schools, offices and childcare facilities can reopen — but places of worship cannot — is mindboggling," the complaint states, referring to industries considered for reopening during the latter part of Stage 2. "The churches and pastors of California are no less `essential' than its retail, schools and offices to the health and well- being of its residents."

The lawsuit alleges state and local elected officials have "intentionally denigrated California churches and pastors and people of faith by relegating them to third-class citizenship."

The suit not only challenges Newsom's stay-at-home order, but also public health orders issued by the county and city of San Diego, as unconstitutional.

The suit states that many religious activities require in-person services, but are prohibited by the state's order. – City News Service

Encinitas To Reopen Beach Access Stairs Saturday Morning

– 3:20 p.m., Friday, May 8, 2020

The city of Encinitas will reopen several beach access stairways Saturday morning, but a facial covering will be mandatory when using the narrow staircases.

The stairways located at Swami's, D Street, Stonesteps and Grandview will open for access to, and egress from the beaches as of 8 a.m. Saturday.

"Please help us keep these access points open by using them only to transit back and forth to the beach," a city statement reads. "Use the stairs in a single-file fashion, please be respectful while passing others, and remember that as restrictions are beginning to be lifted, elements of the public health order remain in effect."

Residents are asked not to work out or jog on the stairs to avoid contact in the narrow staircases.

Beacons Beach access will remain closed due to damage from an April 10 storm that dropped more than 4 inches of rain in a short time period, causing erosion damage to the bluff and trail, city officials said. The parks and recreation department is awaiting approval from the California Coastal Commission to allow the necessary repairs to be made to reopen Beacons Beach Trail. City officials said foot traffic could cause further damage, resulting in a longer construction period. — City News Service

Live Blog: San Diego County Records 233 New Coronavirus Cases, 4 Deaths

– 3:15 p.m., Friday, May 8, 2020

San Diego County officials reported 233 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths Friday, even as they announced the loosening of restrictions on several recreational activities.

The new cases represent the highest daily case increase since the pandemic began, but it also coincides with the most daily tests the region has completed — 3,572.

These tests are still far below the county's recommended 5,200 daily tests to get a complete picture of the local pandemic, but are an improvement. The county and its health care providers have completed more than 72,000 COVID- 19 tests since the pandemic began, with a rolling positive test average of around 6%. Friday's tests were about 7% positive.

The county's total cases increased to 4,662 and deaths increased to 169. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 919 people have been hospitalized due to the illness, 289 spending at least some time in intensive care. Since the first case was confirmed in the county, 19.7% of all positive COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized, 6.2% have been sent to intensive care and 3.6% have died. All three percentages have decreased since yesterday, and hospitalizations have trended downward for more than a week.

The number of people at the San Diego Convention Center to be tested has increased to 1,126, with 1,102 testing negative, three positive and 19 "indeterminate."

The region's campgrounds will be allowed to open as soon as Saturday with restrictions, including having every other campsite remain empty and only members of a single household allowed to share a site. Communal areas like playgrounds will remain closed. The opening of the campgrounds applies region- wide, but campgrounds under city jurisdictions can be closed by those cities.

The county is also opening tennis and handball courts, provided participants meet social-distancing requirements. Golf carts for single riders, regardless of age, will also be permitted. Additionally, rental of outdoor equipment like bikes, kayaks and surfboards will be allowed again.

Still closed are community pools, which could be among the last places to be reopened, going by the state's guidance.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that as the state moves forward with "Phase 2" of its reopening plan, businesses such as dine-in restaurants, malls and swap meets, pet grooming businesses, car washes, outdoor museums and office-based businesses are next on the agenda — with social distancing still required.

Retail stores across the region opened for curbside service today provided they met San Diego County's guidelines.

The stores able to open Friday included bookstores, music stores, jewelers, shoe stores, toy stores, antique dealers, home and furnishings suppliers, sporting goods, clothing stores and florists, but those businesses will have to operate through curbside service or deliveries.

Manufacturing, warehouse and logistics businesses supporting those businesses were also able to open Friday.

All businesses opening as part of "Phase 2" must complete a safe reopening plan, found at www.sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html, and post it publicly. All employees must be given copies of the plan.

– City News Service

Californians To Receive Mail-In Ballots For November Election Under Newsom’s Order

– 2 p.m., Friday, May 8, 2020

Every voter in California will receive a mail-in ballot for the November general election under a new executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday.

The move was to ensure all voters can exercise their right to vote as well as maintaining public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy,” Newsom said. “No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote.”

WATCH here

Newsom recognized that some people may still need access to in-person voting for a variety of reasons, including people with disabilities or who are experiencing homelessness. His office will work with the Legislature and Secretary of State on how to best implement the plan.

Individual counties have until May 30 to come up with a plan for in-person voting while still preserving public health. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

Some Businesses Open For Curbside Service As Coronavirus Cases Reach 4,429

– 8:23 a.m., Friday, May 8, 2020

Retail stores across the region can open for curbside service starting Friday provided they meet San Diego County's guidelines, but shopping malls, dine-in restaurants, museums and offices will remain closed until the next phase of California's emergence from the regime of restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stores able to open today include bookstores, music stores, jewelers, shoe stores, toy stores, antique dealers, home and furnishings suppliers, sporting goods, clothing stores and florists, but these businesses will have to operate through curbside service or deliveries.

Manufacturing, warehouse and logistics businesses supporting those businesses will also be able to open today.

All businesses opening as part of "Phase 2" must complete a safe reopening plan, found at www.sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html, and post it publicly. All employees must be given copies of the plan.

Two California Department of Motor Vehicles offices — in Hillcrest and San Marcos — are part of the 25 field offices also reopening today throughout the state. The offices at 3960 Normal St. and 590 Rancheros Dr. in San Marcos will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Wednesday, when it opens at 9 a.m. They will handle appointments and transactions requiring an in-person visit, such as reinstating a suspended or revoked license, applying for a disabled person parking placard, or paying registration for an impounded vehicle, among other things.

Chula Vista announced that it will reopen its parks and trails today for recreation activities, but face coverings are still required and residents must practice social distancing.

Parking lots are open, but team sporting activities, gathering/congregating in groups and picnics are still prohibited.

These partial reopenings come after health officials reported 110 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths Thursday, raising the county's totals to 4,429 cases and 165 deaths. The fatalities include two women and five men. The percentage of deaths among the Latino population continues to rise, up to 41.2% of all deaths, as the mortality rate among the white population has dropped below half of all deaths.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher reported the county was amending some of the childcare health orders it had set down in March, including raising the number of children allowed in independent childcare groups with one adult from 10 to 12, and allowing shared use of hard-surfaced areas such as kitchens and bathrooms — provided those common areas saw consistent cleaning. These modifications bring San Diego County more into alignment with California's recommendations.

For the first two months of the pandemic, the county more or less blazed its own path in an unprecedented situation, but has begun to adhere more strictly to the state's — and Gov. Gavin Newsom's — guidance. As a result, Fletcher said, the county would follow the state's gradual phased opening structure.

A somewhat confusing proviso in Newsom's reopening structure is the ability of some counties to move faster in reopening businesses like dine-in restaurants, bars and malls if those counties meet certain standards. Fletcher said this standard includes no new COVID-19 related deaths for a period of time that is highly unlikely in any of California's large, urban counties anytime soon. – City News Service

San Diego To Donate Midway-Area Bridge Shelter To Chula Vista

– 4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 7, 2020

San Diego and Chula Vista announced a partnership Thursday to combat homelessness regionally, which will include the construction of a new shelter in Chula Vista.

The Midway-area bridge shelter operated by Veterans Village of San Diego would be demolished with a replacement built in Chula Vista, pending approval by the Chula Vista City Council, which is expected to discuss the agreement at Tuesday's meeting.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the shelter was built on land offered by the U.S. Navy in 2017 under two conditions -- it would serve homeless veterans and be a temporary site.

"Nearly three years later, the time has come to find a new home for this shelter," Faulconer said.

WATCH here:

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said, "the bridge shelter will position Chula Vista and the South County to better respond to public health emergencies like COVID-19 and to provide a better solution to protect our unsheltered and get them the critical services that they need."

City officials are working to identify funding to operate the proposed shelter, whose site has not been determined, Salas said.

Faulconer said the shelter served up to 200 people, but that figure could change based on Chula Vista's needs and capabilities.

Residents from all the city's bridge shelters have been relocated to the San Diego Convention Center during the coronavirus pandemic as part of the city's Operation Shelter to Home. — City News Service

Some Retail Outlets To Reopen Friday, Dine-In Restaurants Still Closed

– 4:38 p.m., May 7, 2020

As some local retail businesses prepare for a limited reopening on Friday, health officials said Thursday that San Diego County is far from meeting state-mandated criteria for reopening other businesses such as offices or dine-in restaurants.

Bookstores, florists and sporting goods retailers are among the types of businesses allowed to restart business Friday, but they can only offer delivery or curbside pickup. Warehouses and logistics companies that support those retail outlets are also allowed to reopen.

Governor Gavin Newsom has allowed counties to reopen other businesses such as office buildings, dine-in restaurants and car washes — but only if those counties meet strict criteria surrounding testing, tracing, hospital capacity and zero deaths from COVID-19 in the past two weeks. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said no large urban county was meeting that goal.

"That does not stop us from moving forward with the retail, that does not stop us from moving forward with the warehouse and the logistics," he said. "It just stops us from moving beyond what the state of California has outlined."

County officials also announced a modest change to its public health order that would allow childcare facilities serving essential workers to take kids in groups of 12, rather than 10, in alignment with state guidelines.

"We are aware that in order to reopen our economy we have to simultaneously work with those childcare providers to make sure that (we have) safe environments for kids that are adhering to what we think are the best practices that are available," he said.

The county reported 110 new positive cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 4,429, and seven new deaths, bringing the local death toll to 165. – KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen

Gov. Newsom Loosens Stay-Home Order, Allows Some Retailers To Reopen With Limits

– 1 p.m., Thursday, May 7, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued the broadest loosening of his stay-at-home order so far, allowing some retailers to reopen but not have customers in stores.

The announcement Thursday was the result of improvement in battling the coronavirus, and it moves California into the second phase of a methodical four-step process to full reopening.

It covers only a sliver of retail businesses as well as manufacturers' warehouses considered low risk for the virus. Stores that will be allowed to open with curbside service if they meet other safety requirements include bookstores, clothing stores, florists and sporting goods stores.

Higher-risk businesses like hair salons and gyms, offices and dining in restaurants will come later. — Associated Press

County Unemployment Numbers Pass Great Depression Levels, SANDAG Report Finds

– 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The San Diego region's estimated unemployment rate has risen to 26.8% amid the coronavirus pandemic, a high not seen since the Great Depression, according to a report released Wednesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

The report was prepared with data from April 18-25, before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order to open some retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses this Friday.

"The phased reopening may signal that the pandemic curve is flattening, and economic improvement may occur in the next few weeks," the report reads.

Although the number of unemployed is likely to increase with the next two weeks' data, SANDAG's chief economist, Ray Major, said the numbers could start dropping by May 11 as people get back to work.

On March 7, the unemployment rate in the county was 3.4%.

According to the SANDAG analysis, 450,000 people are out of work in the San Diego region, more than 400,000 of whom lost employment after March 7 -- which public health officials have pinpointed as the date the health crisis began locally.

A few ZIP codes are seeing a more significant impact. Logan Heights leads the county in unemployment, with 37.5% of residents out of work. Golden Hill, City Heights, the College area and San Ysidro all have more than 32% unemployment and National City has more than 31% unemployed.

"Combined, these six ZIP codes total about 53,000 unemployed residents, compared to 52,000 countywide before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," the report states.

The industries most severely impacted by COVID-19 and various stay-at-home and social distancing orders associated with the pandemic include ones in which close contact is required, such as hotel, restaurant, personal care, transportation and entertainment jobs.

ZIP codes with a higher percentage of office workers who can work from home are less severely impacted by unemployment. Those areas include West Rancho Bernardo, Eastlake, Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Sorrento Valley and Scripps Ranch -- all of which have 22% or less unemployment. — City News Service

WATCH: Mayor To Highlight Home Caregivers On Frontlines, Invite Seniors to Join Check-in Program

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 5, 2020

San Diego County Records 159 New Coronavirus Cases, 8 Deaths

– 3:14 p.m., Wednesday, May 6, 2020

San Diego County continues to prepare for some businesses to reopen Friday, even as Wednesday's data showed a slight increase in the rate of COVID-19 positive-testing individuals.

Local health officials reported 159 new cases and eight deaths Wednesday, raising the county totals to 4,319 cases and 158 deaths.

County Chairman Greg Cox said while the county prepared to meet Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders to reopen some retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses, it ultimately held power on which were going to open.

Some businesses might not have the staff, supplies or protocols in place to safely reopen, and the county would not allow those unprepared businesses to open in an unsafe manner "no matter what the governor says," Cox said.

To avoid that uncomfortable situation, he encouraged business owners to visit www.sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html to find a "safe reopening plan" template to help prepare.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said employers and employees should get used to increased health surveillance, including daily temperature checks. He said the best way to prevent the spread of the illness is "changing our individual behavior," but that by sending home sick employees, businesses could help.

City Councilman Scott Sherman urged county officials to give San Diegans the right to choose.

"San Diegans have sacrificed much to flatten the curve and many are now struggling. Our region has shown that we can act responsibly," he said. "I urge the County Board of Supervisors to begin immediate work so our region can move more quickly through phase two and open more businesses."

Wednesday's deaths included three women in their 70s to 80s and seven men ranging from their 40s to their 80s.

The county and its health partners completed 2,260 tests Wednesday, raising the total completed tests to 65,737. Of those, around 7% returned positive, a slightly higher rate than the rolling average.

On Wednesday, 363 COVID-19 positive individuals were in the hospital, 133 in intensive care. Since the health crisis began, 882 people with novel coronavirus have been admitted to the hospital, 281 of whom were sent to the ICU. The county estimates 2,333 people have recovered from the illness.

These numbers translate to 20.4% of all positive-testing individuals being hospitalized, 6.5% spending at least some time in intensive care and 3.7% dying of COVID-19.

According to data presented by Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, men are more likely to die of the illness — they represent 56.3% of the fatalities — and people identified as white make up around 49% of the deaths, with Latinos not far behind at 39% of all COVID-19 deaths in the county.

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a framework for safely reopening businesses amid the pandemic. As part of the plan, the county will send a letter to Newsom requesting "total local control" on COVID-19 decisions.

The framework also offers guidelines on employee and customer safety, sanitation, physical distancing, and general business practices and communications. Recommendations were based on input from the Responsible COVID- 19 Economic Reopening Advisory Group, which includes county supervisors, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, small business owners and construction industry associations.

Approval of the business guidelines was just one of several COVID-19 related actions the board tackled during its regular meeting.

Supervisors also unanimously approved $5 million in emergency childcare vouchers available to essential front-line workers and families. The money will come from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Supervisor Diane Jacob made an amendment to make the funds contingent on the city of San Diego also contributing $5 million from its CARES Act funding, for a total of $10 million.

The board also unanimously approved a six-month waiver of fees for inspections associated with environmental health, agriculture weights and measures, plan checks for tenant improvements, and air pollution control permit renewals.

Andy Pease, Health and Human Services Administration finance director, told supervisors the county will receive $334 million from the CARES Act to cover costs between March 1 and Dec. 30.

He said the money will not cover revenue losses or shortfalls, and added the county is now on track to spend $100 million on efforts to combat the virus, and costs will continue to rise.

Tracy Sandoval, county finance and general government manager, said her office estimates a total revenue shortfall of between $265 million and $395 million, and said it will be imperative for governments to develop long-term strategies to weather the downturn.

A San Diego Association of Governments study released Wednesday found that local freeway traffic has decreased by 44% since the COVID-19 stay at home orders began in the San Diego region, including 52% on State Route 163 and 50% on Interstate 5.

The SANDAG research and program management team analyzed travel on San Diego County freeways from mid-March to mid-April this year, and when compared to the same time last year, traffic volumes at eight hotspots decreased an average 41 percent. Additionally, speeds during peak periods averaged 30 mph higher.– City News Service

California Launches Online Tool to Find COVID-19 Testing Near You

– 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during his Wednesday briefing that the state has launched a new online tool for people to access and schedule COVID-19 testing.

The new GIS tool allows people to enter a zip code to find testing sites nearby and make reservations for an appointment. Newsom said this new tool will allow officials to better visualize testing "deserts," which could help address those discrepancies.

Newsom also announced the signing of an executive order that extends workers compensation benefits to all sectors of the economy.

WATCH here:

"If you've tested positive, or been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician, you are eligible for this worker's comp benefit," Newsom said. He clarified that employers could rebut the claim under strict conditions.

Another executive order signed Wednesday will extend the penalty waiver on residential property taxes through May 2021 for those experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The deadline for small-business property taxes has been extended through the end of the month.

As for the daily state numbers, the governor said 94 people have died from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, while hospitalizations and ICU admissions are slightly down.

Newsom also said he would make public the contract between the state and a Chinese manufacturer to acquire personal protective equipment after several outlets reported having their records requests stonewalled by his administration. — Michelle Wiley/KQED

Carlsbad Approves $5 Million Package For Struggling Local Businesses

– 12:18 p.m., Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Carlsbad City Council has approved a $5 million economic revitalization package to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will accept applications for the relief Wednesday through May 25.

The majority of the funding, $4.4 million, is for micro loans and small business recovery loans directly to Carlsbad small businesses.

To qualify for the loans, businesses must hold a valid Carlsbad business license as of March 1, 2020, and be in good standing with the city. Applicants who have already applied for federal assistance may not use city loan money for costs covered by the federal assistance. Loans should be used for operational expenses such as rent, payroll, mortgage interest and utilities, a city statement said.

Businesses interested in the loans can reach out to business@carlsbadca.gov with questions and for applications.

Micro loans are available for businesses with gross revenue of $2 million or less and 15 employees or fewer. The loan amounts will be between $5,000 and $10,000.

Small business recovery loans are available for businesses with gross revenue of $3 million or less and 50 or fewer employees with loan amounts between $10,000 and $25,000.

The city will contract with a third-party organization specializing in these kinds of loan programs, officials said. – City News Service

San Diego's Illumina Donates $1 Million to Front-Line Workers, Local Students

– 6:45 p.m., Tuesday, May 5, 2020

San Diego biotechology company Illumina announced Tuesday it is donating $1 million to the region's front-line workers affected by COVID-19 and local K-12 students.

The donation is composed of $300,000 for front-line workers' "critical needs" such as personal protective equipment, and $700,000 to support distance learning, technology and STEAM education for San Diego-area students.

"This donation we're announcing today is going to change lives right here in San Diego," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said during an afternoon news conference.

Illumina CEO Sam Samad said: "From individuals to communities, from companies to countries, we're finding ways to support each other during this challenging time in order to address this pandemic together. In fact, the amount of innovation and service to others is one of the brightest silver linings of this time."

The mayor said the funds would help students in their ongoing transition to distance learning while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who lack regular access to computers and/or the internet.

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said the school district has provided more than 800,000 meals and distributed more than 50,000 Chromebooks in response to the pandemic. — City News Service

San Diego County Records 140 New Coronavirus Cases, 6 Deaths

– 4:35 p.m., Tuesday, May 5, 2020

County supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted to adopt a framework to reopen businesses in a safe manner during the coronavirus pandemic, as health officials announced 140 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths, raising the county's totals to 4,160 cases and 150 deaths.

The six deaths were three women and three men, ranging in age from 62 to 95, according to officials with San Diego Health Services.

As part of the framework plan, the county will send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed by Supervisor Dianne Jacob requesting "total local control" on COVID-19 decisions.

The framework also offers guidelines on employee and customer safety, sanitation, physical distancing, and general business practices and communications. Recommendations were based on input from the Responsible Covid- 19 Economic Reopening Advisory Group, which includes county supervisors, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, small business owners and construction industry associations.

Faulconer said the group is bipartisan, bi-national and features a diverse makeup. He also thanked business groups and organizations "who jumped in with both feet" to offer input.

"We are not out of the woods yet, but what we are doing in San Diego is working," the mayor added.

Board Chairman Greg Cox said it has not been easy for businesses to adapt, but the framework allows them to reopen smoothly and safely.

During the meeting, more than a few residents expressed their frustrations with Newsom's orders shuttering non-essential businesses, along with the county's rule requiring residents to wear masks.

Timothy Ryan, an attorney based in Coronado, said the notion that a public official can determine whether a business is essential is offensive. "This shutdown is no longer about public health, but politics," he added.

Others told board members they have taken all the necessary steps to ensure their businesses are safe for customers.

After the vote, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said it's important to "start the difficult work of rebuilding our economy, but it is vital that it be done right."

Supervisor Jim Desmond said the county should consider an ombudsman to help answer questions about the business guidelines.

Tuesday's meeting was the fourth held via teleconference since the pandemic began, with supervisors voting remotely.

Guidelines for businesses was just one of several COVID-19 related actions the board tackled during its regular meeting. – City News Service

Newsom Says ‘New Normal’ On the Horizon as Retail Restrictions Are Eased

– 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 5, 2020

As California moves into the next phase of easing shelter-in-place restrictions, Gov. Gavin Newsom met with a small business owner in Sacramento during his daily briefing on Tuesday. The governor said she is one of many that will be able to reopen their store — with limitations — starting Friday.

On Monday, Newsom announced that the state would begin slowly moving into stage two of the stay-at-home order, allowing retail businesses to gradually open. How California residents go about this next phase will determine if the state has to toggle back on easing restrictions, or can continue to move forward.

“We’re not going back to normal. It’s back to new normal with adaptations and modifications until we get to immunity until we get to a vaccine,” Newsom said.

In good news, the governor said the number of new positive cases has remained steady over the past several days, despite a significant increase in the number of tests. Additionally, tens of millions of new masks have been coming into the state on a weekly basis, which Newsom called "foundational" for moving into the next stage.

California has distributed 14.2 million surgical masks since the beginning of the pandemic, but the state has acquired 19.3 million masks over the past few days. Newsom hopes to begin distributing these masks to grocery, retail and transit workers.

“I can assure you, in all of these months, we have never had so many procedure masks, surgical masks, in our possession, now able to be distributed all across the state of California,” Newsom said.

— Audrey Garces/KQED

County, City Leaders, Discuss Proposed Guidelines For Economy Reopening

– 6:30 p.m., Monday, May 4, 2020

San Diego county and city leaders unveiled a plan Monday that will allow local businesses to safely reopen and operate once state public health restrictions are lifted.

The guidelines aimed at maintaining employee and customer safety were developed by the Responsible COVID-19 Economic Reopening Advisory Group -- RECOVER -- which consists of nearly 30 local business and civic leaders from various industries.

The group's recommendations, in development since mid-April, focus on five areas — employee health, safe worksite entry, sanitation, workplace distancing and employee training.

WATCH here:

The announcement followed Gov. Gavin Newsom's outlining of a plan to ease California's stay-at-home order later this week, allowing some "lower- risk" retail stores to reopen with restricted operations. Further details are expected to be released this week.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said if public health orders are eased for San Diego County, the RECOVER group's plan will allow local businesses to reopen responsibly.

"San Diego is ready to recover," said Faulconer, who called the plan "a strategy that helps put San Diego back to work and helps businesses get a head start on their reopening plans."

Further clarification on the county's plan is expected at Tuesday's San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting when the board is expected to vote on a Business Safety Framework to be adopted by all businesses once the state restrictions are lifted.

Businesses will need to demonstrate they can reopen and operate within state and county public health guidelines.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said the timing of the reopening is out of county leaders' hands, but "what we can do is help make it easier for businesses to reopen safely and smartly and smoothly as soon as possible if they have a set of guidelines to work from." — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 93 New Coronavirus Cases, 5 Deaths

– 3:00 p.m., Monday, May 4, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 93 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths Monday as it prepares to enter "Phase 2" of Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan to reopen the state.

The county's coronavirus totals now stand at 4,020 confirmed cases and 144 deaths, but officials said numbers were trending in the right direction and thanked San Diegans for behaving responsibly this weekend as beaches opened — allaying fears of overcrowding and subsequent state-mandated closures.

County Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher announced they are planning to introduce a framework to reopen nonessential businesses at Tuesday's board morning, and the county is preparing to loosen business restrictions on some retail stores in conjunction with the state on Friday.

Newsom acknowledged the cooperation of the majority of the state's residents so far.

"Millions of Californians answered the call to stay home and thanks to them, we are in a position to begin moving into our next stage of modifying our stay at home order," he said at a midday televised briefing. "But make no mistake — this virus isn't gone. It's still dangerous and poses a significant public health risk."

Watch the press conference here:

San Diego Republicans claimed a victory with Newsom's loosening of restrictions.

"After several weeks of inaction, the governor, seemingly rattled at today's press conference, finally acknowledged that Californians can be trusted to be responsible," said Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County.

Democrats also claimed the move as a win.

"Moving to stage two signals another step in the gradual reopening of California," said Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego. "Under state guidance and with ratification by county leaders, retail stores will be able to open with modifications, as well as the associated manufacturing and supply chains. This means more small businesses will get to open and more Californians will be able to get back to work."

Even with a future course charted for reopening the state, officials reminded residents to be diligent about social distancing and facial coverings.

"Keep in mind we haven't crossed a finish line," Fletcher said. "This is not the beginning of the end, rather the end of the beginning. We will not truly be out of the weeds until we have a vaccine of therapeutic treatments."

Cox agreed. The public's compliance has "pulled us away from the edge," but the county is still in the "danger zone," he said.

State public health authorities are opening testing locations in partnership with the county's health agency starting Tuesday. The initial locations will be at Grossmont College, the former Sears building in Chula Vista and the county's North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido. Testing will be by appointment only. To secure a spot, visit Lhi.care/covidtesting or call 888-634-1123 weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The facilities could boost the county's testing numbers by 800 daily. The county is working toward a goal of 5,200 tests per day, according to Fletcher.

"While state and federal guidelines call for `robust testing,' there is no hard and fast rule for the exact number," he said Sunday. "We've chosen to use a Harvard study to identify our goal: 5,200 tests per day in San Diego County. We're working with our new testing task force to meet that goal."

The county and its health partners reported the results of 1,293 tests Monday, around 7% of which were positive. A total of 61,171 tests have been completed in the region since the pandemic began. Case tracking staff have completed a cumulative 4,903 contact investigations, and 552 people have been housed in public health hotel rooms after being exposed to the virus.

The latest deaths involved three women in their 70s and 80s and two men in their 60s and 80s, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

The county estimates 2,181 people have recovered from COVID-19, 842 have been hospitalized and 271 have spent at least some time in intensive care.

Of all 4,020 positive-testing individuals, 20.9% have been hospitalized, 6.7% have been admitted to the ICU and 3.6% have died.

Regional hospitals reported 3,372 beds in use Monday, and Fletcher said that number is expected to rise as people who have been putting off medical care begin returning to emergency rooms and hospitals begin scheduling elective procedures again.

– City News Service

Newsom Says Some Business May Reopen This Week

– 12:45 p.m., Monday, May 4, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will move into the second phase of his reopening plan as early as Friday, allowing lower-risk workplaces to resume operations with modifications to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.

WATCH here:

The plan outlined Monday includes a range of retailers that would be permitted to reopen, including clothing stores, sporting goods and florists. It did not immediately include dine-in eating at restaurants and reopening of offices, which were in previously stated Phase 2 plans.

Newsom says a key consideration for entering Phase 2 is the ability for health authorities to test and conduct contact tracing of infections. — Associated Press

First Weekend Of Open Beaches In San Diego Passes Without Major Incident

– 6:40 p.m., Sunday May 3, 2020

San Diego's first weekend of open beaches since the coronavirus pandemic forced their closure went by without major incident.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer made an appearance at the Pacific Beach lifeguard station Sunday, reminding the public the beach is open for walking, running, swimming, surfing and paddleboarding only.

“Attention on the beach, the stay at home order continues to be in effect. Please do not sit or congregate on the beach,” Faulconer said over the loud speaker. “Thank you for your cooperation. You're doing a great job. Stay classy, San Diego.”

– Andrew Bowen, KPBS Metro Reporter

SDPD Encourages San Diegans To Avoid Sunset Cliffs

- 5:15 p.m., Sunday May 3, 2020

San Diego Police Department officials are asking Sunset Cliffs visitors to stay away because the crowds are getting too big in the evening.

SDPD posted the advisory on Facebook, encouraging visitors to steer clear of the Sunset Cliffs area along the west curbline of the 700 to 900 block of Sunset Cliffs; and the 4500 block of Ladera Street. “No parking” signs have been posted.“Friendly reminder, San Diego County has 70 awesome miles of coastline - please consider choosing a different location,” the post reads.

Also on Sunday, the San Diego Fire Rescue Department reported the rescue of a Navy sailor from Sunset Cliffs.

The man, who recently got out of quarantine, got too close to the water about 12:30 a.m. while watching the bioluminescence and was pulled into the ocean by a large wave. Lifeguards rescued him from the water and he suffered some cuts and scrapes, SFRD officials said.SDPD Chief David Nisleit said last week many were still visiting the area at sunset and staying after to watch the red tide, "I understand it is a great thing to see, but we are inundating the area of Sunset Cliffs, and we're not being able to do that physical distancing."

Nisleit said there would be extra police officers patrolling Sunset Cliffs through the weekend. -City News Service

San Diego County Reports 85 New Coronavirus Cases, One Additional Death

- 4:05 p.m., Sunday May 3, 2020

San Diego County officials are reporting 85 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and one new death.

The county has now reported a total of 3,927 coronavirus cases and 139 deaths.

The new death reported was that of an 81-year-old woman who had underlying health conditions, officials said.

In total, 828 or about 21% of cases,have required hospitalization, with about 7% of patients being placed in intensive care, according to a county news release. - KPBS Staff

Lake Poway Recreation Area Reopens With Restrictions on Sunday

- 1:25 p.m., Sunday May 3, 2020

On Sunday, Lake Poway became the county’s latest large recreation area to reopen following San Diego County’s order to relax certain park restrictions in the ongoing stay-at-home order.

The reopening comes with the following restrictions: Parking lots will only be filled to half the capacity; boating and the archery range are closed and the Fisherman’s Trailhead is also cordoned off to hikers, according to the City of Poway’s website. Restrooms and picnic areas are open.

Regular hours of 6 a.m. until sunset resume on Monday. - KPBS Staff

California Lawmakers Set To Return As Coronavirus Lingers

- 12 p.m., Sunday May 3, 2020

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is calling lawmakers back to the Capitol on Monday, restarting a legislative session interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, even as a handful of lawmakers plan to stay home for fear of contracting or spreading the disease.

But it won’t be business as usual for California’s full-time Legislature after lawmakers agreed to their first sustained unscheduled work stoppage in 158 years. They'll be limited to having just one staff person with them and nurses will check their temperatures at the door, among other precautions.

Atop the new to-do list for lawmakers: softening the economic fallout from the pandemic.

In the state Senate, President Pro Tem Toni Atkins is not bringing members back until May 11 and has allowed members to participate in committee meetings via video conferencing. The Senate is considering letting members cast votes remotely once the full session resumes.

But Rendon says all Assembly members must be at the Capitol to participate in committee hearings and floor sessions, based on legal advice that any votes taken remotely “would likely be challenged in the courts and thrown out.”

He said anyone who doesn't feel comfortable coming is “encouraged to stay home. We are definitely not forcing anybody to come to work.”

It's a tough choice for the Assembly members who are over 65, putting them at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract the coronavirus.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Hayward Democrat, says he will stay home Monday. The 73-year-old is in good health but lives in a retirement community where many are on oxygen or have other health problems.

Quirk said he will watch committee hearings online and work with his staff to win approval for his bills in committee. But his influence will be limited because he won't be able to vote.

“I have urged the speaker to consider remote participation," he said. “Allowing members to participate remotely would allow everyone to have a full and fair opportunity to participate in the legislative process."

The only thing lawmakers absolutely must do is pass an operating budget, and time is running out. Lawmakers face a June 15 deadline for approval or they will forfeit their salaries. Newsom has scrapped his January budget proposal and will reveal a new one on May 14, giving lawmakers about a month.

With such a compressed calendar, lawmakers are having to rethink their policy goals. The Assembly's 32 committees must share the three hearing rooms large enough for lawmakers and the public to stay at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart, likely limiting the number of bills they can consider.

Only 14 of the roughly 100 bills before the Assembly Higher Education Committee will be heard this year, committee chairman Jose Medina said.

“Priorities have shifted,” said Medina, 67, who decided to return after consulting with his family and doctor.

Before the crisis hit, legislative leaders wanted to borrow about $4 billion to prepare California for climate change disasters such as wildfires and flooding.

Now, lawmakers are discussing adding more money and projects to the bill to jump start the struggling economy, what many believe is the best option for a state stimulus package. While Congress can pass trillion-dollar aid packages to give cash to businesses and citizens, the California Constitution requires a balanced budget.

Democratic Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, who wrote the Assembly's version of the climate change borrowing proposal, said the spending can still focus on the environment, but create jobs through things like construction to protect coastal communities against sea level rise.

“We just hope that the governor also sees it this way and we can do something to get Californians back to work," he said.

But lawmakers still have other priorities, including homelessness, which Newsom devoted his entire State of the State address to earlier this year.

A high-profile housing bill from Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener would allow multi-family homes to go up in single-family neighborhoods.

“We had a housing crisis before COVID, and the housing crisis has not gone away and in many ways COVID has made it worse,” said Weiner, of San Francisco.

More than 2,100 Californians have died from coronavirus and more than 53,000 have been confirmed to have it, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though the number of infections is thought to be far higher because of a shortage of testing.

For the vast majority of people, coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. - Associated Press

County Supervisor Says More Testing Is On The Way For Southeast San Diego After Drive-Through Test Site Falls Short Of Need

- 6:15 p.m., Saturday May 2, 2020

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher wrote on Twitter that more testing is on the way to Southeast San Diego after KPBS reported that a temporary drive-through testing site was not meeting the need for testing in the working class neighborhood.

The drive-through test site outside of the Euclid Medical Center was open for six hours on Saturday. Each test took ten minutes -- meaning that only 24 people could be tested at the site on Saturday.

The testing was by appointment-only. Those who wanted to be tested had to call 211 to be screened beforehand.

“Many folks in this community are frontline personnel, they have to work,” said Dr. Rodney Hood, a primary care physician at the Euclid Medical Center, who reached out to the county to set up the testing today. “Many are living in mutli-generational environments where there are other folks who might be sick. And they’re getting exposed. This is a high-risk population, and more extensive testing needs to be done.”

Dr. Hood says people tried to make appointments, and were qualified to do so through screening, but there weren’t enough time slots available.

“I think this is an important first step, but I believe that after this, it really has to be on a more regular basis,” Dr. Hood told KPBS. - Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS reporter

Beachgoers Appear To Maintain Social Distancing and Other Guidelines During First Weekend of Beach Reopening

- 5:15 p.m., Saturday May 2, 2020

Moonlight Beach in Encinitas was filled with people on Saturday, but it appeared that most of them were either swimming, surfing, walking apart from one another, or exercising.

All of those fall within local guidelines for the reopening of the beach.

A mother and child were told by a lifeguard that playing in the sand wasn’t permitted as the lifeguard station blasted periodic reminders to follow guidelines.

Signs posted at all entrances also reminded beachgoers to cover their face when possible, and to keep six feet apart. But not all guidance was clear to everyone.

Torin, who only gave his first name, tried to fish from the beach, something he said he cleared with the sheriff’s department. But lifeguards told him it wasn’t allowed.

“There’s signs here that say what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do, fishing is not on that sign,” Torin told KPBS. He said he had walked a mile down the beach to get away from the crowds before being told he couldn’t fish.

Parking lots at the beaches remained closed. - Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS reporter

San Diego County Reports 131 More COVID-19 Cases, Five More Deaths

– 3:30 p.m., Saturday, May 2, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in San Diego County increased by 131 on Saturday, for a total of 3,842 cases. There were also five additional deaths, bringing the region's total to 138. The county health department says the latest victims ranged in age from 54 to 100 years old. Three were men and two were women; four had underlying medical conditions.

One death from yesterday's count was found to be a nonresident and removed from total count.

811 (21.1 percent of cases) have required hospitalization, and 259 (6.7 percent of all cases) had to be placed in intensive care.

State public health authorities announced new COVID-19 testing locations at Grossmont College and the County’s North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido beginning Tuesday. Testing is by appointment only: Schedule online here or by calling 888-634-1123. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS Arts Calendar Editor/Producer

Pelosi And McConnell Decline Quick COVID-19 Tests

– 3:00 p.m., Saturday, May 2, 2020

The top Republican and Democrat in Congress say they're respectfully declining an offer of quick COVID-19 tests offered by President Donald Trump’s administration. Senate leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say in a statement they want the equipment to go to front-line facilities instead. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tweeted Friday that three rapid-testing machines and 1,000 tests were being sent for the Senate to use next week. Limited testing for lawmakers has become an issue in decisions about when they should return to Washington. – Associated Press

Senate Returns On Monday But House Stays Closed

– 2:45 p.m., Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Senate reopens on Monday as the coronavirus crisis rages and the House stays shuttered. It’s a politically and physically fraught move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, convening 100 senators during a pandemic. The Senate's return gives President Donald Trump the imagery he wants of America getting back to work. But the Washington, D.C., region is still under stay-home orders as a virus hot spot. The House was advised by the attending physician on Capitol Hill to keep its more than 400 members away. Democrats say if the Senate is in session it needs to focus on the response to COVID-19. Instead, the agenda is focused on confirmation hearings for the president’s nominees. – Associated Press

City Of Carlsbad Details Reopening Of Parks, Trails, Beaches And Golf Courses

– 11 a.m., Saturday, May 2, 2020

On Friday, the Carlsbad City Council approved plans and timelines to ease restrictions on public spaces due to COVID-19 public health concerns. Public spaces must adhere to county and state public health orders, including new face covering rules.

RELATED: Why And When San Diegans Must Wear Facial Coverings Beginning May 1

Beaches: Open at earliest Monday at 9 a.m., in coordination with State Parks

The majority of the beaches in the city of Carlsbad are owned and maintained by California State Parks. Beaches will not open before Monday at 9 a.m., and specific timing will depend on the State Parks. An announcement has not been made yet. When formally reopened, new operating hours will be 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What's allowed: Walking, running, swimming, kayaking, surfing, bodyboarding, body surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling and scuba diving from the shore is allowed. Paddleboarding and kayaking are permitted at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon entrances. Fishing is only allowed from a kayak or boat.

What's not allowed: No stopping, sitting or lying down on the beach. No gatherings, games, yoga, calisthenics, or sports of any kind or activities that involve staying in one place.

Carlsbad parks: Open to limited use starting Monday May 4 at 2 p.m.

Carlsbad-owned parks will reopen to limited, "passive" use starting Monday, May 4, at 2 p.m. The modified operating hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Passive use allows only walking, jogging or sitting on the grass. No active use, including sports games of any type, even among families. Available parking spaces will be reduced by at least half, and all community centers, aquatic centers, athletic fields, sports courts, playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks and similar areas remain closed. For a complete list of parks affected, visit the City of Carlsbad's COVID-19 page.

City-owned trails: Open Monday May 4, at 2 p.m.

Modified operating hours for the city of Carlsbad trails will be 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Batiquitos Lagoon Trail is not owned or managed by the city and remains closed.

Crossings at Carlsbad Golf Course: Open Saturday May 2, at 8 a.m.

The city-owned Crossings golf course will reopen but all employees and patrols will be required to undergo temperature screening. No golf carts (unless needed to meet ADA requirements), congregating or sit-down food service will be allowed. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS Arts Calendar Editor/Producer

WATCH: Mayor Faulconer To Encourage San Diegans To Continue Being Responsible At The Beach

– 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 1, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego County Reports 147 New Coronavirus Cases, 10 Deaths

– 3:39 p.m., Friday, May 1, 2020

Mandatory face-covering health orders went into effect countywide Friday, with several transportation agencies following suit by mandating face coverings on all vehicles and public transit locations.

Any employee or passenger at the San Diego International Airport or aboard Metropolitan Transit System or North County Transit District vehicles are required to wear face coverings at all times — regardless of social distancing. People are not required to wear coverings at home or in their yard, their car, while jogging or surfing or if they have a medical condition preventing them from wearing a facial covering.

Coverings include a mask, bandanna, scarf or even a T-shirt. On Friday, however, San Diego County gave law enforcement agencies 10,000 masks and directed the agencies to distribute them to residents in public without facial coverings. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said there will be more masks as the crisis continues. The directive is designed not to punish violators of the face-covering law, but to stymie the spread of COVID-19.

This led to questions about mass protests of county public health orders throughout the state Friday, as well as in downtown San Diego. Fletcher said he understood the huge toll stay-at-home orders have taken on the economy and on people's lives, but reminded protesters of the other costs of the pandemic.

"We've seen 64,000 Americans who have died in the last two months," he said, noting this weekend was the first with open beaches since they were shuttered in March. "Please be responsible and exercise restraint."

He said San Diego didn't want to befall the same fate as Orange County, which had beaches closed indefinitely after a weekend in which social distancing was not practiced there.

County Chairman Greg Cox and Fletcher gave some positive signs for protesters, announcing they would bring a business safety framework in front of the Board of Supervisors, aiming for a timeline and plan to reopen nonessential businesses.

County officials reported 147 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths Friday, raising the county case total to 3,711 cases and the death toll to 134.

Efforts to track the spread have included increased testing. The number of tests in the county reported Friday topped 2,625 — significantly fewer than the county needs to consider testing at an adequate level to further loosen restrictions. According to Fletcher, a study from Harvard and backed by the White House indicates jurisdictions should be performing 152 tests per 100,000 population on a daily basis. For San Diego County, that means approximately 5,200 daily tests.

Help is coming, first in state assistance coming May 5, which can increase daily tests by 782. Additionally, Nick Macchione, director of the county's Health and Human Services Agency, announced the county was in the process of hiring 200 public health nurses to help with any surge and testing. The county has a goal of 450 employees to be directly involved in contact tracing, making 1,200 investigations a day to track to progression of the illness. It currently has 128 on staff.

The county has completed 4,331 contact tracing investigations to date.

Area hospitals have 364 COVID-19 patients in their care, 141 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 3,308 patients are in area hospitals.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, has reported 54 outbreaks of the illness, 36 in congregate living facilities connected to 882 cases and 64 deaths and 18 community-based outbreaks traced to 149 cases and five deaths.

– City News Service

State 'Really Close' to Making Changes to Stay-At-Home Order, Newsom Says

– 2 p.m., Friday, May 1, 2020

During Friday’s press briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is close to making significant changes to California's stay-at-home order.

"We’re talking days, not weeks," he said, adding that he was looking forward to making some “very constructive announcements” next week.

Those changes will eventually include reopening certain types of businesses — including restaurants — but with "serious" modifications.

The governor also provided the following update on state figures:

– Over 2,000 people have died in California since the coronavirus outbreak began.

– 91 people have died from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

–There are now more than 50,000 confirmed positive cases in California.

– Over 655,000 tests have been conducted.

Newsom acknowledged the growing frustration with the ongoing shelter-in-place order, but stressed that much progress has been made and that lifting restrictions too soon could "screw that up."

As for the lawsuit filed by some Orange County residents challenging Newsom's executive order to close beaches in the area, he said: "It doesn't surprise me," and that "we'll see what happens."

“We’re not out of the woods,” Newsom said. “But the good news ... our ICU numbers were flat yesterday, our hospitalizations actually went down yesterday.” — Michelle Wiley/KQED

Metropolitan Transit System Introduces Chemical Fogs To Fight COVID-19

– 12:16 p.m., Friday, May 1, 2020

The Metropolitan Transit System announced the addition of a new tool in the fight against coronavirus Friday — disinfecting fog.

Additionally, the agency is now requiring daily temperature checks for hundreds of bus and trolley operators, and is now offering one-way fares on its mobile ticketing app, Compass Cloud.

"We will continue adopting measures to improve protections for our employees, essential workers and riders taking essential trips," said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. "Strict sanitizing protocols and early detection for this virus are key to slowing the spread. We will keep improving on both these fronts."

In addition to daily cleaning with disinfectants, buses will be fogged with a CDC-approved substance that kills COVID-19 (and other viruses) on contact. The small devices evenly spray a fine mist of chloride dioxide solution throughout each bus's interior. The fog can decontaminate hard-to- reach locations and fabric seats, leaving more time for professional cleaners to sanitize areas more frequently touched by passengers, a MTS statement said.

The substance also decontaminates air-conditioning filters. The fogging process takes just minutes. All buses will be fogged every other day and more often if necessary after more materials become available. Many buses are cleaned mid-day before returning to service for the evening commute, as well as the regular daily cleanings. – City News Service

WATCH: San Diego Mayor Gives Update On Coronavirus Response

4:30 p.m, Thursday, April 30, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

County Extends Shelters In Place Order Indefinitely, Allows For Golf Courses To Open And Physical Activities At Parks

– 3:08 p.m., Thursday, April 30, 2020

San Diego County officials on Thursday extended the stay-at-home order indefinitely until the medical emergency is declared over, but loosened some restrictions.

Supervisor Greg Cox started the briefing by reminding residents that starting Friday, everyone in the county is required to wear facial coverings when they are within six feet of another person in public or the workplace.

San Diegans will see some countywide restrictions loosened while others are tightened. Officials announced Thursday more access to parks, golf courses and the region’s waters.

WATCH LIVE here

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said parking lots at parks can open to half capacity and members of the same household unit can engage in active sport together.

“Now to be clear, this does not mean all of your family members who live in different households can come together. It means the individuals who live in one household can go out and play together,” Fletcher said.

Golf courses can open for limited use if they follow safety policies and boating is now OK. Golf courses won’t be able to have instructions or sit-down food services. Players will be able to walk the course, but not use carts.

Another 132 San Diegans tested positive and four more people died. That’s a total of 3,564 cases and 124 deaths.

Fletcher said the increase in positive cases correlates with more testing, but overall, the percentage of tests coming back positive is remaining steady at around 6%. However, he said if a spike comes after the amendments to the San Diego County public health officer order, restrictions will be put back into place. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer; Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter; John Carroll KPBS general assignment reporter

San Diego City Unveils 'Slow Street' Pilot Program

2:50 p.m., Thursday, April 30, 2020

San Diego launched a "slow streets" pilot program Thursday that will limit traffic on some streets to enable better social distancing for pedestrians.

The slow streets movement has been growing in cities across the globe, as more sidewalks start getting crowded with people seeking a break from home isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. Faulconer said the city was starting with about 2½ miles of streets, and that he would be consulting with city council members on where the program can be expanded.

"Some areas we are seeing over 1,000 pedestrian trips per day," he said at a briefing Wednesday. "More people are walking around. And this means that people need more room to physically walk around."

The first phase of the pilot covers Diamond Street from Mission Boulevard to Olney Street; Adams Avenue over Interstate 805; Howard Avenue from Park Boulevard to 33rd Street and an unnamed portion of roadway in City Council District 4, which covers most of Southeast San Diego.

The streets will be marked with temporary signage over the next several days, with Diamond Street coming first, and the mayor said he would consult with council members on where to expand the program.

Faulconer added that the city would be reopening commuter bike paths that had been closed several weeks ago. Those include state Route 56 bikeway; the San Diego River bikeway from Ocean Beach to Mission Valley; Rose Creek bikeway; Rose Canyon bikeway; state Route 52 bikeway; Murphy Canyon along Insterstate 15 and Lake Hodges Bridge.

Advocates had urged the city to automate all pedestrian cross signals to prevent the spread of germs on crosswalk buttons. Faulconer said the city was exploring that possibility, but that for now, it will replace small crosswalk buttons with larger ones that can be pushed with an elbow or arm.

Councilwoman Jen Campbell, who appeared with Faulconer in Wednesday's briefing, said while the slow streets pilot was temporary, it could help the city with its larger goal of reducing car travel.

"By expanding street access for pedestrians and bikes while not impeding residential and emergency access, we can move about more safely and the city can study long term opportunities for our environment," Campbell said. "A clear analysis on the possibilities could inspire a vision for the San Diego of tomorrow, one that prioritizes walkability and more open green space for our communities." — Andrew Bowen, KPBS metro reporter

Gov. Newsom Temporarily Closes All Orange County Beaches

– 12:50 p.m., Thursday, April 30, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday temporarily closed all beaches in Orange County because of “disturbing” images of people packing beaches there.

“The images we saw on some of the beaches were disturbing,” Newsom said, regarding the overcrowded beaches in Newport Beach. “I was candid about that.”

WATCH here:

There were concerns Wednesday night into Thursday that the governor would close all beaches throughout the state, but Newsom said he was cognizant of the fact that a vast majority of people in counties such as Los Angeles and San Diego were following social distancing orders and did not pack beaches.

“In areas that we didn’t see that, you have to recognize that. You have to own that,” he said. *— Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

Judge Orders Review Of Otay Mesa Detainees For Eventual Release Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

– 12:09 p.m., Thursday, April 30, 2020

A San Diego federal judge ordered Thursday that a group of up to 69 "medically vulnerable" detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center be screened for release amid a coronavirus outbreak at the facility.

The order from U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw came as part of a class- action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union's San Diego chapter against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CoreCivic, a private company which operates the Otay Mesa Detention Center.

As of Thursday, 162 detainees at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

The ACLU argues that overcrowded conditions at Otay Mesa have made social distancing an impossibility and puts detainees at serious risk of contracting the virus. The nonprofit is seeking a vast reduction in the inmate population — of both ICE and U.S. Marshals' detainees — but Thursday's hearing focused on a group of detainees considered at the highest risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

On Tuesday, attorneys for ICE and CoreCivic told Sabraw that eight detainees fall under the designation of medically vulnerable. But a supplemental brief filed the following day by Otay Mesa Detention Center Warden Christopher LaRose's attorneys states that additional information from ICE medical staff indicated there are 51 to 69 ICE detainees who may fall within CDC guidelines for being at higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. – City News Service

San Diego Unveils 'Slow Streets' Pilot Program

– 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday announced a pilot program to limit traffic on some streets to enable better social distancing for pedestrians.

The "slow streets" movement has been growing in cities across the globe, as more sidewalks start getting crowded with people seeking a break from home isolation. Faulconer said the city was starting with about 2.5 miles of streets, and that he would be consulting with city council members on where the program can be expanded.

"Some areas we are seeing over 1,000 pedestrian trips per day," he said. "More people are walking around. And this means that people need more room to physically walk around."

The city says it will post a list of those streets Thursday morning on its coronavirus web page.

WATCH here:

Faulconer added that the city would be reopening commuter bike paths after they were closed several weeks ago. Those include the SR-56 bikeway, the San Diego River bikeway from Ocean Beach to Mission Valley, Rose Creek bikeway, Rose Canyon bikeway, the SR-52 bikeway and Lake Hodges Bridge.

Advocates had urged the city to automate all pedestrian cross signals to prevent the spread of germs on crosswalk buttons. Faulconer said the city was exploring that possibility, but that for now it was replacing small crosswalk buttons with larger ones that can be pushed with an elbow or arm.

Councilwoman Jen Campbell, who appeared with Faulconer in Wednesday's press conference, said while the slow streets pilot was temporary, it could help the city with its larger goal of reducing car travel.

"By expanding street access for pedestrians and bikes while not impeding residential and emergency access, we can move about more safely and the city can study long term opportunities for our environment," Campbell said. "A clear analysis on the possibilities could inspire a vision for the San Diego of tomorrow, one that prioritizes walkability and more open green space for our communities." — KPBS Metro Reporter Andrew Bowen

San Diego County Confirms 118 New Coronavirus Cases, Two More Deaths

– 3:18 p.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2020

San Diego County public health officials reported 118 new cases and two deaths Wednesday, raising the county totals to 3,432 cases and 120 deaths. – City News Service

San Diego Superior Court Closures Extended Through Memorial Day Weekend

– 3:47 p.m., April 29, 2020

The San Diego Superior Court will extend its COVID- 19-related closures through May 22, meaning county courthouses will remain shuttered until after the Memorial Day weekend, court officials announced Wednesday.

Courthouses throughout the region had been slated to reopen to the general public this Friday. But the Superior Court stated that non-emergency court services will remain suspended in the interest of public health and mitigating the spread of the virus.

"As COVID-19 continues to be a concern for our community, we are closely monitoring the recommendations from local and state public health agencies while working to determine the safest way to resume normal operations," said San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne. – City News Service

Newsom Announces New CalFresh Program, Provides Updates On Unemployment And Homelessness

1:55 p.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during his daily press briefing on Wednesday that changes to the CalFresh program will increase access for children, seniors and families through online ordering, and a new Pandemic-EBT program.

Additionally, he said the state will partner with food banks, farms, local producers and ranchers to create "food boxes," providing families with fresh produce.

The governor said they will extend hours and provide more staff.

Additionally, the governor said that the state has acquired 12,603 hotel rooms to provide housing for the homeless. "Thousands of individuals now have a place, at least for the moment, to call home," Newsom said.

Additional updates on testing and contact tracing are expected tomorrow.

WATCH here:

On unemployment, Newsom said 3.7 million people have filed for unemployment insurance in the state. This includes a 235,000 spike yesterday — the first day of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to help self-employed and independent workers.

"I am deeply aware that many of you tried to access that system online and struggled to get in," Newsom said. "We have to meet the moment, and provide more support." — Lakshmi Sarah

San Diego County Could See Rise In Domestic Violence During Coronavirus Pandemic

– 1:33 p.m., April 29, 2020

With stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in place indefinitely, greater levels of stress could cause an increase in domestic violence throughout San Diego County, a Sharp Health psychologist said Wednesday.

"Stress levels in general are elevated and there are not as many opportunities to relieve stress, which could create a lot more opportunities for conflicts to escalate," Dr. Christina Huang, a clinical health psychologist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital told City News Service.

Factors such as financial strain and the possibility of getting sick, paired with the feeling of having no control over the COVID-19 pandemic, could also amplify tense situations, Huang said.

In the span from March 1 to April 25, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department logged 2,309 domestic-related calls, a roughly 3% increase from the 2,237 such calls handled in the comparable two-month stretch last year, according to sheriff's Lt. Ricardo Lopez.

Other departments around San Diego reported that not much has changed regarding domestic violence call statistics recently, but the situation is still developing.

"The short answer is that we have not seen a change in the number of cases submitted or filed by our office at this time," said Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County District Attorney's office.

"It's a complicated issue that we haven't been able to analyze yet since we don't have all the data yet." – City News Service

UC San Diego Health Begins Trial Of Arthritis Drug As Coronavirus Treatment

– 1:07 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Researchers at UC San Diego Health have begun a portion of a global clinical trial to assess whether a medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory disorders might also have therapeutic value for COVID-19 patients who have developed or are at high risk of developing serious lung damage from the infection.

Tocilizumab, marketed as Actemra, is an immunosuppressive drug used primarily to treat rheumatoid arthritis and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a severe form of the disease in children. The antibody-based therapy works by blocking cellular receptors for interleukin-6, a small protein that plays an important role in triggering inflammation as an early immune response to disease.

In some patients with COVID-19, however, the immune response runs amok, overexpressing the protein, which can lead to potentially life-threatening damage to lungs and other organs. This has been linked to a number of inflammatory diseases, from respiratory conditions caused by coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS to some forms of influenza to non-infectious diseases such as multiple sclerosis and pancreatitis.

Previous research has suggested elevated levels of the protein are associated with higher mortality in people with community-acquired pneumonia. According to UCSD Health researchers, in the early days of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan last year, Chinese physicians used tocilizumab to treat a small number of COVID-19 patients with serious lung damage and reported promising results. The Chinese National Health commission now includes tocilizumab in its guidelines for treating COVID-19-related pneumonia and other lung issues. – City News Service

Del Mar Will Reopen Beaches Thursday

11:45 p.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Del Mar will reopen its beach Thursday morning for recreation activities, the city announced late Tuesday.

Beaches will be opened for surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders in the ocean, as well as runners and walkers on the sand.

But group gatherings, sports activities, parking in lots, except for disabled-access vehicles, and lying down on the beach are not allowed.

Beaches in San Diego, Oceanside, Encinitas, Coronado and Imperial Beach reopened for recreation activities on Monday but beaches Del Mar, Carlsbad and Solana Beach remained closed.

Solana Beach city officials announced Sunday that they are working to reopen city beaches the week of May 4. — City News Service

Carlsbad's JLab Audio Donates 3,000 Headphones To County Students Affected By Coronavirus For Distance Learning

– 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Citing students' lack of equipment necessary to participate in distance learning during stay-at-home orders, local company JLab Audio has donated 3,000 headphones to San Diego County school districts, education officials announced Wednesday.

"One of the biggest challenges right now is making sure that all students have what they need to continue learning during this unprecedented time," County Superintendent of Schools Paul Gothold said. "We are grateful to JLab Audio for providing headphones that will reduce distractions and help students be able to focus better on the content they are consuming."

Students in the South Bay Union and Vallecitos school districts, the King-Chavez Neighborhood of Schools, as well as at the San Diego County Office of Education's Juvenile Court and Community Schools will receive the headphones. The neon on-air headphones are a variant of the company's top-selling line.

"I was watching the governor's address a few weeks ago and he thanked Google for stepping up with Chromebooks and asked other companies to step up too," JLab CEO Win Cramer said. "As I watched my 14-year-old put on headphones and use her Chromebook for her 8th-grade classes, I realized we have a way to help. That moment sparked the idea to donate what we could." — City News Service

Homeless Count Being Used to Allocate Resources During COVID-19 Pandemic

– 5:20 p.m., Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Regional Task Force on the Homeless found 7,619 homeless San Diegans live in the county, and those numbers are being used to best direct resources during the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced Tuesday.

The task force -- a group of government and nonprofit stakeholders committed to preventing and alleviating homelessness in San Diego -- conducted its point-in-time count over three days beginning Jan. 23 to collect the data. Nearly 1,800 volunteers including 500 county employees took part in the event, which found a 6% reduction in the homeless population from the 2019 numbers.

The event, also known as WeAllCount, had volunteers and outreach workers interview unsheltered individuals using the mobile Counting Us application and geographical information system technology. The introduction of the system this year allowed the task force to analyze data in real-time and distribute resources in the community.

WATCH here:

Task force officials said they have begun using this data to aid in the COVID-19 response and will continue to use it to advance regional best practices.

"The RTFH's person-centered approach to the annual point in time count has given the San Diego region the tools and information to inform all aspects of addressing homelessness," said San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward, chair of the task force. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, these best- practices and new technology have delivered more accurate, actionable data to Public Health Officials and have allowed outreach workers to specifically target at-risk homeless individuals for life-saving services. This data will continue to be analyzed in our ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19."

The point-in-time count has been used in the past to develop San Diego's Community Action Plan on Homelessness and implementation of best practices. This data has also helped to determine the placement of several hand washing stations, the number of high-risk unsheltered individuals in need of additional services, and the opening of the temporary homeless shelter at the San Diego Convention Center.

"The information gathered during this annual count is critical in our fight to tackle homelessness in San Diego County," said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, vice chair of the task force. "With this data we can secure more funding to support our homeless outreach strategies and deliver critical mental health, substance abuse and housing services to people living in our region without shelter."

According to this year's count, there are approximately 3,971 unsheltered individuals and 3,648 sheltered but homeless throughout the county. Out of the total unsheltered population, 8% are veterans, 17% are chronically homeless and 8% are unsheltered youth.

"Since the count and in response to COVID-19, hundreds more who were living on the streets have found shelter in the San Diego Convention Center and we enacted an eviction moratorium to help prevent folks from losing their home in the first place," San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. "We will keep working day and night to overcome this pandemic and help even more people find shelter and housing in the process." — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 173 New COVID-19 Cases, Five More Deaths

– 4:12 p.m., April 28, 2020

County health officials reported 173 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths today, raising the county totals to 3,314 cases and 118 deaths.

The 173 cases are the second-highest reported since the pandemic began, but could correspond with the significant increase in daily test results, officials said. More than 2,500 tests results were reported, the third highest since San Diego's first case of the novel coronavirus.

The percentage of positive tests Tuesday was around 7%, slightly higher than the county's rolling average of nearly 6.5%, according to San Diego County Public Health.

The five deaths were two women, in their mid-50s and mid-80s, and three men — one in his early 70s and two in their late 80s. All had underlying health conditions according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

Since the beginning of the public health crisis, 713 people have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 and 238 have been sent to intensive care. These represent 22.1% and 7.2% of all positive cases, respectively. The rate of mortality from the illness in the county is 3.6%.

The county continues to move forward on its plan to require facial coverings in public by Friday, and agencies are rushing to adapt. The Metropolitan Transit System announced Tuesday it would require all passengers and employees to wear facial coverings while in vehicles or at transit centers or bus stops.

"Our number one priority is the safety of our passengers and frontline employees. Face coverings are a proven approach to slowing the spread of coronavirus," said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. "We want to ensure we are doing everything we can to offer safe, essential trips in a sanitized environment. Face coverings are another step in that direction."

Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county's chief medical officer, backed up that point, displaying data at a Tuesday media briefing that suggests even a homemade cotton mask can dramatically reduce the amount of water droplets and aerosolized drops from the respiratory system of a person positive for COVID- 19. He then implored the public to continue to wear facial coverings and prepare for Friday's public health order.

"Folks, it's not that big of a deal," he said. "If it had a chance of helping prevent the spread of this illness, I'd wear a dirty sock on my face." – City News Service

Palomar Health To Lay Off 317 Employees, Citing Lack Of Revenue

– 4:09 p.m., Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Palomar Health announced Tuesday that it is laying off 317 employees effective Wednesday, citing significant patient visit declines and loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the hospital, it has seen a 45% to 50% decrease in overall patient visits since the coronavirus outbreak began, absorbing a $5.7 million operating loss in March, "with losses in April expected to be worse, yet hard to estimate given the uncertainty of the virus."

Palomar Health, which operates multiple medical centers and clinics in north San Diego County in San Marcos, Poway, Escondido, Ramona and Rancho Bernardo, is far from the only health care provider feeling the impact.

UCSD Health Center has lost more than $50 million in revenue since March, Voice of San Diego reported Tuesday.

RELATED: Federal Hospital Coming To Palomar Medical Center As Officials Brace For Coronavirus Surge

The 317 positions represent 5% of Palomar's workforce and the majority are part-time workers. The number includes 50 clinical RNs. The remaining 267 positions are spread across the organization, ranging from clerical staff to technicians.

Employees who are affected will receive a severance package and are immediately eligible for unemployment and health insurance coverage through their severance period, Palomar Health officials said. – City News Service

WATCH: San Diego County Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Response

– 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 28, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

Gov. Newsom Says Schools May Reopen As Soon As July

– 12:45 p.m., Tuesday, April 28, 2020

California schoolchildren could return to their classrooms as early as July though there likely will be modifications, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

No formal decisions have been made, but he acknowledged there have been “learning losses” as parents have sought to teach their kids from home. Most schools and classrooms have been closed since March, when Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Districts and families have struggled to adapt to at-home learning. Starting the new school year earlier would make up for some of that lost time, Newsom said.

WATCH here:

B ut schools may look radically different than before. Newsom previously said schools may launch with staggered start times to limit the number of students in the school at one time and make changes to recess, lunch and other normal school gatherings that draw large groups of students together. — Associated Press

MTS To Require Face Coverings On Buses, Trolleys Starting Friday

– 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Starting Friday, public transit passengers in San Diego County will be required to cover their face and mouth when riding buses and trolleys to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Metropolitan Transit System announced Tuesday.

Passengers without face coverings might be denied service, MTS said.

Earlier this month, MTS eliminated cash fare payments on buses and required rear-door boarding for all passengers except seniors and people with disabilities in an effort to limit interactions between passengers and drivers. The busses and trolleys are also being cleaned more often and the agency has asked passengers to sit as far apart as possible.

Still, at least five MTS bus drivers and two trolley maintenance workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. One fare inspector also tested positive but had not been at work for two weeks prior to testing positive and had no contact with passengers or other employees, MTS spokesman Rob Schupp said.

Two of the infected bus drivers work for Cincinnati-based First Transit, which MTS contracts with to operate its paratransit services. Several co-workers who may have been exposed to them were ordered by First Transit to stay home without pay for 14 days.

Two of the eight confirmed coronavirus cases among MTS workers have fully recovered and are back at work, Schupp said. — Andrew Bowen, KPBS Metro Reporter

First Day Of Limited Beach Opening 'Encouraging,' San Diego Mayor Says

6:15 p.m., Monday, April 27, 2020

San Diegans' first sanctioned day back at the beach following weeks of COVID-19-related coastal closures went well Monday, with visitors enjoying the surf and sand while largely complying with public health requirements, city leaders reported.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer described the start of the first phase of the region's return to the shores as "very, very encouraging."

WATCH here:

Several municipalities in the county reopened their beaches to limited use — recreational activities such as running and swimming. In San Diego, gatherings, boating and group activities are not permitted, and boardwalks, piers and parking lots are closed.

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and city Lifeguard Chief James Gartland, who head the agencies leading the enforcement of public health orders at the beaches, said Monday went smoothly, with some large crowds that thinned out as the day went on. – City News Service

San Diego County Records 98 New Coronavirus Cases, 2 More Deaths

– 3:07 p.m, April 27, 2020

With pressure growing to lift coronavirus restrictions, San Diego County health officials urged patience from the public today as they announced 98 more COVID-19 cases and two deaths from the illness, raising the county's totals to 3,141 cases and 113 deaths.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said county staff is working with cities on plans to gradually open parks and businesses, but such moves would be made incrementally and cautiously. He said any city wishing to reopen will have to have specific plans detailing how they would implement social distancing and post signs notifying the public of the restrictions.

WATCH LIVE here:

Additionally, the county public health order going into effect Friday mandating facial coverings in public will have to be factored into any plan.

"We believe face coverings are going to be part of our life for the foreseeable future," Fletcher said.

How long it will last remains unknown, but he said the development of widespread vaccinations or other treatments for COVID-19 would play a major role in when the county goes back to "normal."

The county and regional hospitals reported 823 test results Monday, with 12% returning positive. This represents a considerably higher rate than the rolling average — around 6% since the pandemic began. There are 1,734 COVID-19 positive individuals who have recovered from the illness, San Diego County health officials estimate, and 363 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Monday. – City News Service

Gov. Newsom Says Crowding at Beaches 'Could Set Us Back'

– 2 p.m., Monday, April 27, 2020

During his daily briefing on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom had strong words for those who crowded onto beaches in Southern California this weekend, saying “this virus doesn’t take the weekends off.”

While noting that not all beaches experienced overcrowding, Newsom said the state must confront certain locations — like Newport Beach and Ventura — where social distancing guidelines were clearly not being followed.

Officials in Orange County plan to meet tonight to determine if beaches there should be closed again due to public health concerns. Newsom said he will also consider more aggressive enforcement of the statewide stay-at-home order if crowds continue to gather.

WATCH here:

"The only thing that will set us back is our behavior," Newsom said.

Over the past 24 hours, there were 1,300 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California, and 45 deaths.

Additionally, Newsom announced that Colorado and Nevada have joined California, Washington and Oregon in a Western states coronavirus compact, allowing for greater cooperation and data-sharing between the states. — Michelle Wiley/KQED

Encinitas City Council Votes To Reopen Moonlight Beach Monday Morning

- 6:15 a.m., Monday, April 27, 2020

The city of Encinitas announced Sunday night that Moonlight Beach will reopen Monday for walking, running and all water activities except boating, a city spokesman said.

The reopening, which was decided upon at a Sunday afternoon meeting of the Encinitas City Council, was scheduled to begin Monday at 8 a.m., said Encinitas public spokesman Patrick Platt.

RELATED: Which San Diego Beaches Are Open Monday?

San Diego County's ongoing health order still prohibits public gatherings and beachgoers must continue to practice social distancing. Beachgoers were also asked to wearing face coverings. If those orders are violated, the beach may be re-closed.

Boundaries of the beach will be dictated by the tides and, for the public's safety, they will be marked with black-and-white checkered flags at the north and south ends, Platt said.

The meeting in the Council Chambers, at 505 South Vulcan Ave., was scheduled in response to the San Diego County Health Department's surprise announcement Friday that ocean activities would be allowed again starting Monday.

"The cities did not get any warning regarding the announcement," officials said. "The initial strategy was to have a collaborative approach across the region. The county's unilateral action caught most cities off guard and the collaborative, uniform beach opening across the region will not be happening on Monday, April 27."

In Phase 1 of the draft proposal, all water activity, including swimming, surfing, paddling and kayaking would be allowed. Walking or running on the beach would also be allowed.

"No gatherings of any kind on the beaches," the draft states. "No stopping, standing, sitting or lying down and no chairs, blankets, coolers or anything stationary. No games or sports on the beach."

All beach parking lots will be closed and parking on Coast Highway will be prohibited, the draft said.

"Law enforcement will closely monitor adherence to the County of San Diego Public Health order prohibiting gatherings."

In Phase 2, an intermediate phase with no date to begin scheduled, the entire beach would be opened to all activity without restrictions.

On Saturday, three people were arrested and cited at Moonlight Beach for violating the stay-at-home order and congregating on a closed beach, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The arrests happened during a protest rally against beach closures and the stay-at-home order. - City News Service

Otay Border SENTRI Lanes To Close Earlier Starting Sunday

- 6 p.m. Sunday, April 26, 2020

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Cars enter the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, Aug. 15, 2019.

Vehicle SENTRI lanes at the Otay Mesa passenger port of entry will close two hours earlier starting Sunday as result of decreased traffic volume, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.

SENTRI is the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection that provides expedited border processing of pre-approved travelers considered low-risk. New operating hours for SENTRI vehicle lanes will be from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. - City News Service

Two Sheltered At Convention Center Test Positive For Coronavirus

- 4:50 p.m. Sunday, April 26, 2020

Two homeless people sheltering at the San Diego Convention Center tested positive for the coronavirus and are in isolation, city officials said Sunday.

Earlier this month, the city began proactively testing hundreds of individuals at the convention center, regardless of whether they were displaying symptoms of the disease. The cases announced Sunday were the only positive results out of 663 tests administered to date, the city said.

Both people who tested positive are being transferred to isolation in a hotel room leased by county health officials. Earlier in the day, officials said one of the individuals had refused to go into isolation and left the convention center. But that person was later found and agreed to go into isolation.

— KPBS Metro Reporter Andrew Bowen

San Diego County Reports 100 New Coronavirus Cases, No New Deaths

-3:45 p.m. Sunday, April 26, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported 100 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 3,043.

No new deaths were reported Sunday, according to a county news release. Thus far, 111 county residents have died from the virus.

The county also reported on Sunday that of those who contracted the virus, about 23% have required hospitalization and 7.5% have had to be placed in intensive care.— KPBS Staff

Demonstrators Protest Stay-At-Home Order in Pacific Beach

- 3 p.m. Sunday, April 26, 2020

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Protesters gather in Pacific Beach in opposition to California's stay-at-home order on April 26, 2020.

Protesters gathered near a lifeguard station in Pacific Beach today to protest state and county stay-home orders and beach closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 100 people rallied with U.S. flags and protest signs next to the PB Shore Club at 4343 Ocean Blvd., most not following social distancing orders or wearing facial coverings.

Two police motorcycle officers circled the area with dozens of officers patrolling on foot.

The protest, dubbed "A Day of Liberty San Diego Freedom Rally," was organized by Naomi Soria, who organized last week's downtown San Diego rally.

It was not immediately known whether anyone was cited for violating the stay-at-home order or congregating on a closed beach.

Protesters carried signs such as "COVID is a LIE" and "PB IS OPEN."

The protest began at 1 p.m. and people started to leave the area near the lifeguard tower after about half an hour, gathering at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Grand Avenue.

At Moonlight Beach on Saturday, three people were arrested and cited by sheriff's deputies during a protest. The three were cited for violating the stay-at-home order and congregating on a closed beach.

The Encinitas City Council was scheduled to vote Sunday afternoon on possibly opening Moonlight Beach on Monday.

The Carlsbad City Council on Saturday voted to keep its beach, parks and trails closed for now. The council will hold a special meeting May 1 to review plans for a phased reopening.

The six miles of Carlsbad's coastline controlled by California State Parks also remain closed. City officials said they want to coordinate the opening of all beaches in Carlsbad at the same time.

Officials in the beach cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach say they will not reopen beaches on Monday.

The County of San Diego Health Department announced Friday it would lift the restrictions on going into the ocean starting Monday, but left it up to cities and state parks whether to open the beaches.

San Diego beaches are set to open Monday morning for surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders in the ocean and runners and walkers on the sand. The Phase 1 plan restricts group gatherings, parking and lying down to soak up the sun. — City News Service

El Cajon Distributes $100K To Food Assistance Programs

- 11 a.m. Sunday, April 26, 2020

El Cajon has distributed more than $100,000 to support grocery and food assistance programs in the city.

The money comes from the CARES Act, the federal coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in March. It was dispersed Friday to nine food assistance grocery delivery organizations in El Cajon, according to a city news release..

Food is expected to reach the homes of those El Cajon who need assistance by this week, the news release said. — KPBS Social Media Strategist Laura McVicker

Encinitas City Council To Meet About Opening Moonlight Beach

- 11 a.m. Sunday, April 26, 2020

Monday's potential opening of Moonlight Beach will be considered by the Encinitas City Council at a special meeting today at 4 p.m.

The beach would open at 8 a.m. Monday and all entrances that are at least 6 feet wide would open, but all other beach access points would be closed, according to a draft proposal released by the city.

The meeting in the Council Chambers, 505 South Vulcan Ave., is in response to the San Diego County Health Department's surprise announcement Friday that ocean activities would be allowed starting Monday.

"The cities did not get any warning regarding the announcement," officials said. "The initial strategy was to have a collaborative approach across the region. The county's unilateral action caught most cities off guard and the collaborative, uniform beach opening across the region will not be happening on Monday, April 27."

In Phase 1 of the draft proposal, all water activity, including swimming, surfing, paddling and kayaking would be allowed. Walking or running on the beach would also be allowed.

"No gatherings of any kind on the beaches," the draft states. "No stopping, standing, sitting or lying down and no chairs, blankets, coolers or anything stationary. No games or sports on the beach."

All beach parking lots will be closed and parking on Coast Highway will be prohibited, the draft said.

"Law enforcement will closely monitor adherence to the County of San Diego Public Health order prohibiting gatherings."

In Phase 2, an intermediate phase with no date to begin scheduled, the entire beach would be opened to all activity without restrictions.

Three people were arrested and cited at Moonlight Beach on Saturday for violating the stay-home order and congregating on a closed beach, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The arrests took place during a protest rally against beach closures and the stay-home order. — City News Service

Carlsbad Launches ‘Touchless’ Crosswalks

- 10:55 a.m. Sunday, April 26, 2020

As part of its effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the city of Carlsbad now has “touchless” crosswalks at 12 intersections in Carlsbad Village and near the coastline.

The new technology automatically flashes the walk and don’t walk signs, without a passerby from having to push a button.

The city implemented the touchless crosswalks on Friday at the intersections that average the most button pushes a day, according to a city news release. — KPBS Social Media Strategist Laura McVicker

Del Mar, Solana Beach Will Not Reopen Beaches On Monday

–3:55 p.m., Saturday, April 25

While San Diego County health officials say local beaches can reopen on Monday, the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach are going to wait. In a joint news release, the two cities said their beaches will remain closed while they evaluate the staffing, protocols and logistics needed for a reopening.

The cities said they have not approved the phased approach of the county and city of San Diego, and they said they have not had enough time to share their unique concerns and needs for a coordinated approach. They also said they have not had enough time to discuss the matter with their city councils.

"Throughout the discussions, all parties, including the County, agreed that reopening of our beaches and the implementation of a two-phased approach would occur in accordance with State and Federal guidelines for reopening based on Coronavirus data points for the region," the Friday news release stated. "However, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported today by the County of San Diego indicates a dramatic two-day spike of cases rather than a downward or flattening trend."

San Diego county saw record increases in the number of positive cases on Thursday and Friday, with 335 total new cases reported over the two days. –Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

San Diego County Reports Nine More COVID-19 Deaths, Two More Drive-Through Sites Planned

–2:55 p.m., Saturday, April 25

San Diego county health officials Saturday reported nine more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the toll for the region to 111. The five men and four women died between April 17 and April 24, and all had underlying medical conditions.

The health department says there are now 2,943 total cases in the county, an increase of 117 from Friday. As of today, a total of 43,638 COVID-19 tests have been administered to San Diegans, and 7% have been positive.

The county health department also announced plans to open two new drive-through testing sites. One will be at the North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido and the other at the Public Health Center in Chula Vista. Officials say if you have symptoms and want to be tested, you must have a referral from your doctor. If you don’t have a doctor or insurance, call 2-1-1 and ask to speak to the nurse triage line to request a referral. – Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

Shotguns Seized From San Diego Man Planning Government Takeover Related To COVID-19

– 2 p.m. Saturday, April 25, 2020

The San Diego City Attorney’s office says it has obtained a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) against a Rancho Penasquitos man who made “bizarre and threatening” social media posts about COVID-19. San Diego police officers seized three unregistered shotguns from the home of the unidentified 52-year-old, who is on probation for a drunken driving conviction and is not allowed to own firearms.

The City Attorney’s office says police had received multiple complaints about the man’s social media posts, which claimed COVID-19 was a government hoax. When police went to his home with a mental health professional, they determined he was a danger to others. He is currently on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

"Stress from the COVID-19 public health crisis is exacerbating anxiety and mental health struggles for many," City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. "Thanks to public vigilance, police were able to safely intervene and remove firearms from someone who presented a danger to himself and others before he resorted to violence." – KPBS Staff

ACLU Sues To Stop ICE Transfers

– 1:25 p.m., Saturday, April 25

The ACLU has filed an emergency lawsuit to try to stop people from being transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The suit names California Governor Gavin Newsom and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The ACLU says conditions at ICE detention centers and at county jails make it impossible to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In a written statement, ACLU SoCal’s chief counsel Peter J. Eliasberg said, “It is not just those confined to jails, detention centers, and youth facilities who are in danger. Once the virus gets inside, the regular movement of staff and visitors in and out means that walls and razor wire can neither slow nor stop the viral spread to communities at large.”

In a second lawsuit, the ACLU is also demanding a drastic reduction in the populations of county jails and juvenile detention facilities due to the pandemic. – Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

Three Protesters Arrested At Moonlight Beach In Encinitas

– 1:18 p.m. Saturday, April 25, 2020

At least three people were arrested Saturday during a rally at Moonlight Beach, organized to protest beach closures and stay-at-home orders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The three were cited for violating the stay-at-home order and congregating on a closed beach, according to Channel 8, which tweeted video of the protest that showed deputies handcuffing a man on the beach. "The Surf's Up Shred the Tidal Wave of Tyranny" protest, scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, was organized by Crista Anne Curtis, who led a similar protest last week. Beaches remain closed in the region — including Encinitas — until Monday morning at sunrise. – City News Service

Global Death Toll From Coronavirus Surpasses 200,000

– 11:20 a.m. Saturday, April 25, 2020

Johns Hopkins University researchers say the global death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 200,000. A tentative easing around the world of restrictions is gathering pace with the reopening in India of neighborhood stores that many of the country’s 1.3 billion people rely on for basic goods. The relaxation of the Indian lockdown did not apply to hundreds of quarantined towns or shopping malls. The U.S. states of Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska also began loosening lockdown orders on their pandemic-wounded businesses. Italy said free protective masks will be distributed to nursing homes, police, public officials and transport workers, preparing for the return to work of millions when lockdown restrictions are eased from May 4. – Associated Press

San Diego City Beaches To Re-Open Monday At Sunrise, With Restrictions

– 8 a.m. Saturday, April 25, 2020

San Diego will launch Phase 1 of its beach reopening plan on Monday morning at sunrise. The decision to reopen the beaches comes after county health officials approved reopening beaches next week.

Phase 1 of the city’s plan allowed limited coastal activities in the following areas:

Beaches and shorelines: Only walking and running allowed. No stopping, sitting or lying down

Oceans and bays: Swimming, surfing, kayaking and single-person paddling allowed

Closed: Boardwalks, piers, parking lots and Fiesta Island

Not allowed anywhere: Gatherings and non-physical distancing activities – Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

1,000 San Diego Families To Receive Food At SDCCU Stadium Saturday

– 8 a.m. Saturday, April 25, 2020

Feeding San Diego and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council will distribute food to families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic at SDCCU Stadium on Saturday morning. The giveaway will begin at 9 a.m. and will continue until the food runs out. More than one thousand families are expected to receive food.

This is the fifth week of food distribution for the two groups. – Gina Diamante, KPBS News Editor

City Highlights Distance Learning Resources for SDUSD Students

– 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 24, 2020

Families with students in the San Diego Unified School District were encouraged Friday to take advantage of distance learning resources in advance of Monday, when graded work instruction will resume for the district's students.

With district schools shuttered through the end of the school year due to COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders, the SDUSD started a soft launch on April 6 of its Distance Learning Plan, which has included distributions of nearly 50,000 Chromebooks to allow students to continue their education from home, according to Superintendent Cindy Marten. — City News Service

WATCH here:

She said 90% of district students have been able to connect with the district's Distance Learning program thus far.

Marten urged those without computers or internet access to pick up Chromebooks for home use. Laptop distribution sites are located at Clairemont, Crawford, Hoover, Morse, Lincoln, San Diego and Scripps Ranch high schools from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through May 1.

Marten also said district staff have been working to ensure homeless students living in shelters have access to wifi hotspots in order to take part in distance learning.

Eligible low-income families are able to receive free internet service through mid-July through Cox Communications' offer for the Connect2Compete service.

Customers signing up before May 15 can receive the offer, which provides the service free of charge until July 15.

Gov. Newsom Supplements Senior Home Staffing, Adds New Hotline

– 3:45 p.m., Friday, April 24, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom reacted to a deepening crisis at California long-term care facilities in a press conference Friday, noting that the state is currently monitoring over 2,700 staff and residents at nursing homes statewide who have COVID-19.

There are 522 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities that have had at least one case of coronavirus, based on data he cited.

In answer to a reporter’s question, Newsom said he had deployed the National Guard to four nursing homes in Los Angeles County to assist with testing, isolation of infected residents and to share "best practices and protocols," and that the state has been hiring and training an additional 600 nurses to address staffing needs at senior homes.

WATCH here:

The governor also announced an initiative to partner with local restaurants to make and deliver three meals a day to elderly Californians who are isolated or vulnerable to the coronavirus. The 'Restaurants Deliver' meal program, which will be primarily funded by FEMA and the state, is also intended to provide an economic stimulus to local businesses and workers struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's not just about the meals," Newsom said. "It's about a human connection, about someone just checking in as they're delivering those meals and making sure people are okay."

In another move to expand resources for seniors, Newsom announced increased staffing for the Friendship Line, a telephone “warmline” that both answers phone calls and makes check-in calls to seniors. Students from California State University, Sacramento, and United Airlines — whose call center staff have been freed up by the pandemic-induced drop in air travel — are among those who will help staff the phone lines.

The number for the Friendship Line is (888) 670-1360. — Monica Lam / KQED

County To Reopen Beaches, Facial Coverings Now Required

– 3:30 p.m., Friday, April 24, 2020

San Diego County public health officials on Friday announced they will lift restrictions on entering the ocean for swimming, surfing, kayaking and paddleboarding at sunrise on Monday morning.

Parking lots, piers and boardwalks will remain closed and individual jurisdictions can still place restrictions on beach usage, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

WATCH here:

The county will also be requiring facial coverings throughout the county whenever people are out in public. The order will go into effect on May 1.

The county also reported 183 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths, bringing the county numbers to 2,826 and 102 deaths, respectively.

The county is also opening two new testing sites, Chula Vista and Escondido, available by appointment only and based on physician’s referral. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Tijuana Surges Past San Diego County In Total Number Of Coronavirus Deaths

– 1:15 p.m., Friday, April 24, 2020

During a Friday morning press conference, Baja California’s Secretary of Health, Alonso Pérez Rico, announced Tijuana is now reporting 110 deaths from COVID-19. This moves Tijuana past San Diego County, as death counts in both regions have ticked upwards in recent days. As of Friday early afternoon, San Diego County has 100 deaths.

Across the state of Baja California, Mexicali is the only other city in double-digits, with 39 reported deaths. Across the entire state, 163 people have now died. 46 of those are over the age of sixty-five.

As of Friday morning, there were 11 available ventilators in Tijuana. There are only 50 total ventilators in Tijuana.

A hospital worker in Tijuana sent KPBS a note this week describing conditions at Clinica Veinte, which has seen a huge influx of COVID-19 patients and is now building a tent to handle the overflow. They told KPBS that it’s very possible people have died in Baja California while waiting for ventilators.

– Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS Reporter

Parks In Vista To Reopen, Face Covering Now Required In Chula Vista

– 9:48 a.m., Friday, April 24, 2020

Parks in the city of Vista will reopen for "passive use" today, along with two popular walking paths in Encinitas, while anyone who visits an essential business in Chula Vista is now required to wear a face covering.

Parkgoers in Vista must practice physical distancing and will be limited to individual or household unit activities, such as walking, jogging or running. Dogs on leashes will be permitted.

Group activities and active sports will not be allowed, meaning athletic fields, skate parks, playgrounds, and all other areas related to group activities would remain closed until further notice. – City News Service

Report Finds 16,000 Essential Workers Use Mass Transit Daily

7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Matt Hoffman

A Blue Line MTS Trolley train in Barrio Logan, San Diego, Feb. 21, 2018.

A report released Thursday by Circulate San Diego found that nearly 16,000 essential workers in the region commute to work every day by public transportation, underscoring the importance of transit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the nonprofit transit advocacy group, nearly 25% of the region's essential workers do not own a vehicle and 30% of San Diego County's highway maintenance workers rely on public transit every day.

Circulate San Diego said it utilized data provided by the national advocacy organization TransitCenter to determine how many transit riders rely on transit to get to essential jobs in the San Diego region.

"These figures show just how vital the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District are for getting us through this pandemic," a Circulate San Diego statement reads.

Circulate San Diego is a nonprofit group that advocates for improved mobility, including public transportation.

The nearly 16,000 essential workers in the San Diego region who are currently commuting to work on the region's buses, trains and ferries include 2,500 janitorial workers and 2,000 food preparation workers, the report says.

Those 16,000 essential workers comprise 35% of those who normally commute aboard Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District vehicles, according to pre-pandemic data.

San Diego's transit agencies have experienced steep ridership declines amid the coronavirus outbreak, but they continue to carry a significant portion of essential commuters, according to the study.

MTS buses are carrying less than a third of the usual ridership and the trolley is carrying 60% fewer riders than usual. The NCTD is currently carrying 27% of its usual riders.

A copy of the report can be read at Circulatesd.org/essentialtransit. — City News Service

WATCH: Mayor Faulconer To Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic Response

– 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego County Coronavirus Cases Jump By 152 — Largest 1 Day Increase; 4 New Deaths Recorded

– 3:22 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020

San Diego County health officials Thursday reported four additional deaths and 152 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, marking the largest single-day increase in positive cases since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 2,643 and the death count has reached 100. The previous highest case increase was April 2, when 146 new cases were reported. Tuesday marked the biggest increase in the death count, with 15 reported fatalities.

The latest deaths involved two women and two men, ranging in age from their mid-60s to late 70s, and all had underlying health issues, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's epidemiology director, said Wednesday the uptick in deaths this week may not reflect the direction the pandemic is taking locally. Calling deaths a "lagging indicator," he noted that physicians have eight days to file death certificates and nine deaths reported Wednesday occurred over a four-day period from last Friday through Monday.

Deaths are not being used as an indicator to make decisions such as when to loosen or lift public health orders, McDonald said.

The county reported 28 deaths from the respiratory illness over the three-day period ending Thursday, the deadliest three-day stretch since the coronavirus outbreak began. The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose to 624 on Thursday, and the number of patients being treated in intensive care units climbed to 213, representing increases of 23 and seven, respectively, from Wednesday.

Of the 100 people who have died of the disease, 53 were white, 30 were Latino and nine were Asian.

Despite the growing death toll, county officials are cautiously optimistic.

"At this time, the response of San Diego residents to stay home, physical distancing and other orders and requests is bending the curve and has prevented the type of surge seen elsewhere," according to a county statement announcing that a federal medical station loaned to the county is now ready for patients if needed. – City News Service

South Bay Cities Banding Together In Mandating Facial Coverings To Stop Spread Of Coronavirus

– 3:20 p.m., April 23, 2020

San Diego’s South Bay cities are seeing higher volumes of COVID patients and are now ordering residents to wear facial coverings to curb the spread.

National City and Chula Vista ordered residents to wear face coverings while in essential businesses. Imperial Beach hopes to implement the same order in the coming days.

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said it is also putting pressure on the county to increase testing in the area to better track the virus.

"We want to know when the testing is coming and we want to know where it is being administered and what population is being served," Salas said.

She and other South Bay officials will meet with the county next week about more testing for the area. Public health officials have created a task force to expand testing to vulnerable groups, including low-income communities like many in the South Bay. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

WATCH: San Diego County Health Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

– 2:30 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

Gov. Newsom Denounces Suggestion That States Declare Bankruptcy

– 1:48 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020

At the end of his statewide press conference on Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom was asked about Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's suggestion that struggling states ought to declare bankruptcy (which is not possible under current law) instead of continuing to accept aid from the federal government.

McConnell's comments on Wednesday drew criticism from Republican and Democratic state leaders. Gov. Newsom added his voice to the chorus.

"On behalf of tens of thousands of men and women in uniform, our police officers, our firefighters, our sheriffs ... the folks quite literally saving lives - his comments were offensive," said Newsom. "States are laboratories of democracy, cities are labs of innovation. If you care about democracy, if you care about innovation. If you are about states, you care about cities. I hope and expect that he’ll take back his comments."

– Julia Scott/KQED (@juliascribe)

New Reports Says 300,000 San Diegans Have Lost Their Jobs Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

– 10:16 a.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020

Communities in the South Bay and central San Diego have been hit the hardest by unemployment and nearly 300,000 San Diego County residents have lost jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released today.

The San Diego Association of Governments' report on the impact of the global coronavirus outbreak on the region's economy outlined the geographical distribution of lost jobs and calculated unemployment rates for separate communities around the county through April 11.

Between 22-27% of residents in the South Bay and Central San Diego were unemployed by that time, according to the report.

As of April 11, the Logan Heights neighborhood had the highest unemployment rate, 26.6%, followed by San Ysidro, City Heights, the College Area, Encanto, Santa Ysabel and National City.

The communities that faired the best, comparatively, included western Rancho Bernardo, Sorrento Valley, Carmel Valley, Scripps Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe and northeastern Chula Vista, with unemployment rates around 17%.

The average unemployment rate in the county was roughly 20.6% as of April 11. – City News Service

Coronado, Mira Mesa Cancel Fourth Of July Celebrations

– 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Coronado and Mira Mesa this week have decided to cancel their annual Fourth of July Celebration because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is the City’s biggest holiday celebration of the year,” Coronado City Manager Blair King said. “Unfortunately, it was a decision that had to be made.”

City leaders and the Fourth of July committee decided this week to cancel the annual parade, fireworks display as well as the 12K and 5K run/walk, community party, Art in the Park and concert events.

City leaders say they don’t have time to get the necessary equipment to regulate the crowd in accordance with existing stay-at-home and social distancing orders.

Mira Mesa is also following Coronado’s lead in canceling its celebration. The Mira Mesa Town Council, the organizer of the annual Fourth Of July Parade, FunDay In Park and Fireworks Show, said it is adhering to the state, county, city as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice in canceling.

“Even if we were to be allowed to stage an event on July Fourth, the restrictions that would be required and the cost of implementing them would prevent us from presenting the event,” Mira Mesa Town Council president Bari Vaz said. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer

Vista To Reopen Parks For Limited Use On Friday

7 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The city of Vista announced Wednesday that its city parks will reopen for "passive use" beginning Friday, following just over three weeks of COVID-19-related closures.

Parkgoers will be limited to individual or household unit activities, such as walking, jogging or running. Dogs on leashes will be permitted.

Group activities and active sports will not be allowed, meaning athletic fields, skate parks, playgrounds, and all other areas related to group activities would remain closed until further notice.

Parkgoers will still be required to practice physical distancing and were recommended to wear face coverings while outdoors. — City News Service

Beach City Mayors Announce Plan For Eventual Beach Re-Openings

– 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Plans were announced Wednesday for a phased re-opening of San Diego County beaches and bays once the region has met certain county public health goals regarding COVID-19.

The region-wide plan calls for a two-phase reopening across all coastal cities in the county, which would begin with beaches and bays open initially to walking and running only, according to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Physical distancing would be required, and face coverings strongly recommended.

WATCH here:

Gatherings would be prohibited under Phase 1 of the plan, and piers, boardwalks and parking lots would remain closed.

The ocean would be open to all recreational uses, while San Diego Bay and Mission Bay would be open to boating and single-person paddling only.

Under Phase 2, all activities that allow for physical distancing would be allowed at the beaches, bays, piers, boardwalks and parking lots. — City News Service

San Diego County Officials Still Calculating Total Daily Tests Needed To Contain Virus

– 4:15 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

San Diego County officials on Wednesday announced nine more COVID-19-related deaths and 57 new positive cases, raising the county totals to 96 and 2,491, respectively.

Officials said they’re working on what resources they would need in order to meet state and federal criteria to re-open the region. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said a lot hinges on identifying the number of daily tests and supplies needed to best track the virus.

“That would be a goal not just for capacity to test but all of the various pieces that go along with the test — the personnel, the (personal protective equipment), the swabs, everything that makes a test become a reality to ensure that whatever that daily goal is one that we can achieve each and every single day,” he said.

Identifying that daily goal will inform the number of staff needed for contact tracing and space required for infected people to safely isolate during the illness.

Fletcher did not provide a specific timeline on when details would be released but said he hoped to share the information in the “coming days.”

KPBS previously reported multiple local medical systems are processing far fewer tests than they have the capacity to handle.

Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the county's epidemiology and immunization services branch, said part of the problem is limited supplies of the resources Fletcher mentioned.

“There are challenges across the board, whether it’s reagents for specific machines, whether it’s the viral transport media being available at the right place to be able to do the testing, the swabs are often an issue,” McDonald said in response to a question from Kaiser Health News.

He said the county’s newly formed lab task force, which is set to meet next week, is tasked with addressing these and other testing issues, including which groups testing should be expanded to.

San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten previously said this week that it is expected to include individuals who are HIV positive, live in low-income areas or are members of certain racial groups.

The deaths reported Wednesday occurred over multiple days stretching from April 17 through April 20. All of the individuals who died had underlying health conditions and ranged in age from 38 to 99 years old, according to a document provided by the county health department. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Hospitals Can Resume Scheduling Essential Surgeries

– 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Photo caption:

Photo by Rich Pedroncelli / AP

n this photo taken Tuesday, April 14, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses an outline for what it will take to lift coronavirus restrictions during a news conference at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

In a modest move to relax statewide shelter-in-place orders, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that hospitals can resume scheduling essential surgeries.

He defined essential surgeries as scheduled surgeries that are needed for serious health problems, like heart valve repairs.

"These are not surgeries that are cosmetic," Newsom said. "These are important medical procedures that, if not attended to, become crises, and ultimately burden the rest of the healthcare system."

WATCH here:

The governor said his decision was based upon an assessment of the ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges.

"California has been hard at work to build up sufficient surge capacity to handle an increase in hospitalizations. Because of this progress, we are encouraging hospitals and health care systems to begin to reintroduce medical care delayed due to #COVID19," Newsom's office tweeted. — Monica Lam/KQED

San Diego-Based A Cappella Choir Performs 'Flashlight' To Spread Hope

– 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A San Diego-based a cappella choir announced Wednesday that it has released a cover of the song "Flashlight" with the aim of spreading a message of hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Diego-based Chamber Bravura teamed up with members of the collegiate choral programs at NYU Shanghai and NYU Steinhardt to produce the video, which can be found here.

The virtual choir performance was also done as a thank you to medical professionals, first responders and essential workers worldwide, Chamber Bravura director Katherine Girvin said.

The performance features more than 60 middle school, high school and college students representing 10 different states, as well as 14 different cities across China.

"Flashlight" was written in 2015 by Sia Furler, Sky Montique, Christian Guzman, Jason Moore and Sam Smith. It was made popular by Jessie J for the 2015 movie "Pitch Perfect 2." — City News Service

Imperial Beach Reopening Neighborhood Parks With Limitations

– 10:53 a.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Photo credit: City of Imperial Beach

A press release from Imperial Beach regarding limited reopening of parks is pictured, April 22, 2020.

Imperial Beach announced Wednesday that it would be reopening neighborhood parks for local residents, but with some restrictions.

The parks can only be used for individual exercise, walking and jogging. In addition, everyone will be required to wear face coverings and maintain social-distancing of at least 6 feet. People who are sick or showing signs of COVID-19 are prohibited from using the parks.

The city is prohibiting any organized or group activities in the parks that have been reopened.

Beaches, dog parks, skateparks, state parks and a host of other sites will remain closed. – Chris Underwood, KPBS Web Producer

National City Mandates Face Coverings In Public Settings

– 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Starting Wednesday, everyone who goes out in public in National City is required to wear a face covering.

The City Council unanimously passed an emergency order Tuesday mandating the practice amid the COVID-19 pandemic, making National City the first city to do so in San Diego County.

The order means that all community members must wear face coverings "anytime they leave their home and are in public settings," according to a statement from city officials.

Riverside County was the first in California to make face coverings mandatory earlier this month. - City News Service

San Diego Mayor Calls On Landlords To Help House People Experiencing Homelessness

– 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The city of San Diego asked local landlords Tuesday to consider renting units to San Diegans experiencing homelessness, as part of an incentive program city leaders say will provide upfront funds for landlords having trouble finding tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city is asking landlords to sign up for the city's Landlord Engagement and Assistance Program, which Mayor Kevin Faulconer said allows landlords "to get paid to do good, to help people."

WATCH here:

Faulconer said the program's landlord incentives include up to $500 for the first unit rented to a homeless family or individual and $250 for each additional unit. Landlords will also receive up to two times the contract rent in security deposits, an average of $100 in utility assistance per household and a contingency fund to cover expenses that exceed the security deposits.

Faulconer said the program would help the city in its ongoing efforts to house the homeless at the San Diego Convention Center, dubbed Operation Shelter to Home. — City News Service

ACLU Sues ICE Demanding Release Of Immigration Detainees To Stem Coronavirus Outbreak

– 5:06 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, demanding the agency reduce the number of people held at two of its detention facilities.

One of them is the Otay Mesa Detention Center, where 27 detainees and 18 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

The reported conditions at the facility led Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to call on the Department of Homeland Security last week to investigate the treatment of Otay Mesa detainees.

The suit calls for ICE to release detainees over 45 and those with underlying medical conditions, to mitigate the outbreak.

The ACLU's San Diego chapter recently filed a lawsuit demanding the release of two detainees from Otay Mesa who, according to the ACLU, suffered from medical conditions that made them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. — Gina Diamante, KPBS news editor

County Records Largest Single Day Increase With 109 New Coronavirus Cases, 15 Deaths

– 4:39 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Fifteen more people have died from COVID-19 in San Diego County — the largest number of fatalities reported by health officials in one day — bringing the region’s total to 87. Officials also reported one of the largest one-day increases in new cases with 109 more people testing positive for the virus, pushing the countywide tally to 2,434.

The jumps were partially due to reporting delays and officials noted San Diego was seeing promising trends when it came to other metrics. But County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said she would not consider easing any restrictions until later this month.

"As of today we are asking everyone to stay the course until the 30th of April and we will re-evaluate and see where we are at that time,” Wooten said.

However, Wooten said the county is working with mayors in coastal cities on a plan to allow public access to the region’s beaches. She said that is still ongoing.

In the meantime, county parks are open, but its parking lots are closed in order to limit access to only nearby residents, Wooten said.

Cities that chose to close their parks can re-open them at any time, as San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the previous day, but they must ensure it is possible to maintain social distancing. Playground structures must remain closed, officials have said.

Earlier in the day at a board of supervisors meeting, elected officials voted down a measure 3-2 that would have set May 1 as a target date to allow businesses to re-open. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

County Supervisors OK $5M Loan Program For Small Businesses

– 2:45 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, 2020

County supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a $5 million loan program to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Proposed by Supervisors Jim Desmond and Dianne Jacob, the initiative will allow businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county with 50 employees or less to apply for loans of up to $50,000 each.

The money is coming from the county's general fund, and qualifying businesses will have up to five years, or 60 months, to repay the loan.

A loan may give employers "some time to get on their feet and keep employees on the job," Jacob said before the vote. "Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, and they're in a world of hurt right now."

Desmond, who also serves as board vice-chairman, said the county wants "to make sure we offer the resources so that businesses can get up and running shortly."

Desmond said he's heard "from hundreds of business owners who are eager to get back to work and willing to follow safety protocols."

The San Diego Foundation will oversee the program. According to information supplied by the county, the foundation will return at least 95% on defaulted loans and 100% on loans that are paid off no later than 30 months after the county contribution is distributed. The foundation will also ensure that all loans funded are covered by the state's Small Business Loan Guarantee Program or a comparable program. – City News Service

City Of San Diego Faces Additional $50 Million Shortfall Due To Pandemic

– 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer told the City Council Tuesday to prepare for deeper cuts as the fiscal year 2021 budget comes to terms with massive economic and revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

An initial proposed $3.9 billion balanced budget for FY2021 completed on March 30 is already out of date, and Faulconer said the city anticipates another loss of $50 million in revenue before a revised budget is presented to the council in May.

Total estimated losses in FY 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic-driven economic slowdown are now more than $300 million.

The previous budget included $61.2 million in budget reductions, including the elimination of 354 full-time equivalent positions. It also included one-time actions reducing city expenditure by $84.6 million.

– City News Service

State Officials Call On Healthy Californians To ‘Meet the Moment’ By Volunteering

– 1:50 p.m.Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Officials are calling on healthy California residents to go out and volunteer in their community — including making masks, answering 211 calls and giving blood.

The program, called Californians For All, is aimed to help connect residents with volunteer opportunities that meet their preferences. It was created with a statewide coalition of nonprofits, including the American Red Cross and the California Association of Food Banks.

“If you’re healthy, and you can make a difference in your community, we need you at food banks, we need you giving blood, we need you delivering meals, and we need you joining us,” said Josh Fryday, California’s Chief Service Officer, who is leading the initiative. “If you want to stay at home to be safe, you can still make an enormous difference.”

The state saw a 7.4% increase of positive daily cases as of Monday, and 5% increase in the total number of deaths.

Newsom also noted that over 2,634 hotel reservations have been made to allow caregivers to allow them “to shower, to change, to decompress” before returning home. Newsom said these reservations allow workers to keep their families safe as they do this essential work.

The governor said he would provide more information about testing — particularly among the homeless population — and increased testing sites at Wednesday’s briefing.

Localities reopening

In response to some local governments reopening portions of their cities and counties, Newsom said localities are allowed to reopen spaces so long as they don’t convene large groups. He said the state is trying to create more clarity in the process, but cautions local officials not to open things up too soon.

“Practicing physical distancing has worked to keep those [case] numbers relatively modest, in terms of growth,” said Newsom. “But if we pull back too quickly, those numbers will go through the roof.”

Hospitals holding PPE

The California Nurses Association has alleged that hospitals are stockpiling personal protective equipment (PPE) in case of a massive influx of cases — resulting in nurses being improperly protected.

Newsom said he’s heard those allegations.

“Give me the CEO’s cell phone," he said. "and I’ll call, because that is an outrage.”

The governor said he’s hopeful that the state will see millions more units of PPE, and can distribute it soon.

— Michelle Wiley, KQED (@MichelleEWiley)

San Diego Announces Limited Reopening of Some City Parks Following Closures

– 4:30 p.m., Monday, April 20, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Monday that a limited reopening of some city parks will commence Tuesday, following weeks of COVID-19 related closures.

Parkgoers will be limited to individual activities, Faulconer said, with all social distancing, face-covering and other health-related measures remaining in effect.

Group activities and active sports will not be allowed, and park playgrounds, basketball courts and other areas where groups might congregate will remain closed.

The mayor also said parkgoers will not be able to drive to the parks, as parking lots remain closed per public health orders.

WATCH here:

A full list of parks slated to reopen will be posted to the city's website Tuesday at sandiego.gov/coronavirus.

"We want to provide, of course, an outlet for people to be physically and mentally active as we grapple with this new normal going forward," Faulconer said.

Regional areas, such as beaches, boardwalks, golf courses and trails remain closed, according to the mayor.

However, Faulconer cited county leaders' Monday update, in which they said they were "ready to begin considering easing" public health orders, including reopening beaches and parks.

Faulconer said discussions are underway for a phased reopening of beaches and other "water access" areas, but said San Diego would not reopen the beaches until the city received guidance from the county. — City News Service

San Diego County Confirms 57 New Coronavirus Cases, One Death

– 3:00 p.m., Monday, April 20, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported a slight downward trend from early to mid-April in the percentage of tests coming back positive and the number of new hospitalizations, although the figures fluctuated over that time.

They confirmed an additional 57 people tested positive for COVID-19 and another person died, bringing the county’s totals to 2,325 and 72, respectively

The county is now working to loosen restrictions on the usage of parks and beaches. Officials said Monday they’ve seen minor signs that the impact of coronavirus is lessening but still warned much more progress was needed before restrictions could be widely lifted.

WATCH here:

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county is developing guidance for cities on how to safely allow public access and plan to release it within the next few days.

“They will need to limit gatherings to no more than household units in close proximity to one another, they will include facial coverings as practical, sanitation and hygiene procedures, a plan to ensure physical distancing,” Fletcher said.

Jurisdictions must also limit parking access to half capacity and include on-site staff to enforce all rules. However, Fletcher noted that cities currently have the ability to open public spaces as long as they remain in compliance with the public health order, yet some cities had previously chosen to prohibit access.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said on Monday the city would move forward with reopening some neighborhood parks. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

State, Businesses Attack 'Digital Divide' for Housebound Students

– 1:50 p.m., Monday, April 20, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported a slight downward trend from early to mid-April in the percentage of tests coming back positive and the number of new hospitalizations, although the figures fluctuated over that time.

They confirmed an additional 57 people tested positive for COVID-19 and another person died, bringing the county’s totals to 2,325 and 72, respectively

The county is now working to loosen restrictions on the usage of parks and beaches. Officials said Monday they’ve seen minor signs that the impact of coronavirus is lessening but still warned much more progress was needed before restrictions could be widely lifted.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county is developing guidance for cities on how to safely allow public access and plan to release it within the next few days.

“They will need to limit gatherings to no more than household units in close proximity to one another, they will include facial coverings as practical, sanitation and hygiene procedures, a plan to ensure physical distancing,” Fletcher said.

Jurisdictions must also limit parking access to half capacity and include on-site staff to enforce all rules. However, Fletcher noted that cities currently have the ability to open public spaces as long as they remain in compliance with the public health order, yet some cities had previously chosen to prohibit access.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said on Monday the city would move forward with reopening some neighborhood parks. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Disparities in Care

To address disparities, particularly along racial and ethnic lines, Director of the Department of Public Health Dr. Sonia Angell said that the state is working closely with urban areas to understand the impact.

“We know that these communities have a higher burden of illness," said Angell. "That’s a reflection of poverty and racism and other things that we know have resulted in an inequitable distribution of disease."

Angell said the state is looking closely at every step — from testing to care — to determine where the disparities lie.

The governor said he will be meeting with the Black Caucus and the African-American advisory committee this afternoon to discuss the issue and find more strategies to address it.

Digital Divide

First partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom also announced that 70,000 students across the state will receive laptops and tablets starting this week to help bridge the "digital divide." Those tools are a result of business partnerships that help parents across the state address challenges with distance learning.

“We all know that education is fundamental to opportunity. And so our mission will not end until every child in California has what they need to continue learning while physically distanced,” said Siebel Newsom.

Gov. Newsom also announced that $25 million would be provided to create wifi hotspots to support digital learning. State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced a new statewide task force aimed at closing the digital divide would meet soon. Meanwhile, the city of Sacramento will be equipping seven school buses as mobile hotspots to provide more widespread access. Newsom said if that program is successful, it could be rolled out statewide. — Michelle Wiley/KQED

Alibaba Founder Joe Tsai Donates PPE To UC San Diego Health To Help With Coronavirus Fight

– 12:36 p.m., April 20, 2020

Photo credit: UC San Diego

Brad Ouellet, director of Supply Chain Management Services at UC San Diego Health (left of cart), Steve Govett, president of the San Diego Seals (right of cart), UC San Diego Health nurses and San Diego Seals Lacrosse players pose with donated personal protective equipment at UCSD, April 20, 2020.

The founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has sent nearly half a million pieces of personal protective equipment to hospitals in the San Diego region, much of it expected to arrive this week, UC San Diego Health announced Monday.

Joe Tsai is a resident of San Diego with his wife Clara and their children. The Tsai family reached out to UCSD to help distribute equipment throughout the region to keep health care workers safe while battling COVID-19.

"Our university is privileged to play a role in assisting Joe and Clara in providing their generous donation of masks and goggles to health care institutions in the greater San Diego community and other parts of California," said UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "This equipment is invaluable as our region prepares for a likely surge in the number of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic." – City News Service

Advisory Group To Discuss How Phased Re-opening Of County Economy Would Work

– 10:06 a.m., April 20, 2020

The San Diego Economic Recovery Advisory Group will meet for the first time today to develop a framework for a phased re-opening of San Diego County's economy once the threat of COVID-19 has been tamed.

The group, which was announced Friday, consists of local "civic and business leaders" representing a variety of industries that can advise how best to safely reopen for business, and how to have the local economy thrive in a business environment so widely impacted by COVID-19.

"This group will not be focusing on the when, but more on the how," San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox said Friday. "We can't afford to blindly rush into this. We will only reopen when we are convinced that doing so will not endanger more lives."

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will provide information about the outcomes of the first San Diego Economic Recovery Advisory Group meeting at his daily briefing, scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

San Diego County Reports 55 New Coronavirus Cases, No Deaths

– 3:00 p.m., April 19, 2020

San Diego County health officials reported Sunday 55 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths.

The county issued the new numbers in a news release Sunday afternoon in lieu of a press conference. In total, there have been 2,268 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county and 71 deaths.

Of those cases, about 24% have required hospitalization and about 8% have needed intensive care, officials said.

Statewide, there have been 30,333 confirmed cases and 1,166 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health. – Laura McVicker, KPBS Social Media Strategist

Photo by Andrew Bowen

A shopper wearing a face mask and gloves surveys produce at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, April 19, 2020.

Hillcrest Farmers Market Reopens With Extra Safety Measures

– 12:10 p.m., April 19, 2020

The Hillcrest Farmers Market reopened Sunday with extra safety measures, after the coronavirus pandemic forced its closure.

Only 60 people were allowed inside the market at once, and shoppers were asked to maintain social distancing and avoid paying with cash to limit hand-to-hand contact. The market also set up several hand-washing stations throughout the closed-off area on Normal Street.

Benjamin Nichols, executive director of the Hillcrest Business Association, said he had been working with city and county officials for six weeks to be able to reopen the market, which he said is classified as an essential food supply service.

"All of these farmers are family farmers, and this is the way they sell their produce," he said. "And so getting them to a place where they can stay in business and these family farms don't go bankrupt is critical for us and for the other farmers markets in the county."

Nicholas Naylor-Leyland said he waited in line for about 15 minutes to buy meat from the Lake Elsinore-based Da-Le Ranch.

"And also wanting to support farmers here — I figured I'd find other things I could use," he said. "It's well organized, and there are really not that many people here at once."

– Andrew Bowen, KPBS metro reporter

Photo credit: San Diego County

The latest coronavirus case numbers are shown in the bar graph, April 14, 2020.

San Diego County Reports 55 New Coronavirus Cases, 1 Death

– 5:14 p.m., April 18, 2020

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Saturday 55 new confirmed coronavirus cases and one new death.

The new numbers bring the total of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 2,213 and the total number of deaths to 71.

So far, there have been 537 cases that resulted in hospitalization, roughly a quarter of all cases, and 187 that have resulted in a person being placed in intensive care.

The county is also reporting a total of 1,138 patients known to have recovered from the virus. – Chris Underwood, KPBS Web Producer

State Releases List Of Nursing Homes With Coronavirus Cases

– 3:45 p.m. Saturday, April 18, 2020

Patients and staff at 11 nursing homes throughout San Diego County have confirmed cases of COVID-19. The data comes from the state, which released them Saturday for the first time.

The figures show Country Hills Post Acute in El Cajon is the hardest hit, with 19 patients and 11 staff testing positive. Next is The Bradley Court, also in El Cajon, with 12 residents and 11 staff that are positive.

Other facilities in the county where positive cases are reported are in Poway, Santee, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Rancho Bernardo, Escondido and San Diego.

Photo credit: California Department of Public Health

Data chart shows the positive cases of COVID-19 in San Diego skilled nursing facilities, April 18, 2020.

This data is just a point in time snapshot of the 86% of skilled nursing facilities that reported their data within the last 24 hours. It does not include other senior housing such as assisted living.

There are 1,224 skilled nursing facilities in the state of California and there are either patients or staff at 261 of them that have tested positive for COVID 19.

A full list of all facilities in the state and county reporting positive cases is available here.

RELATED: Advocates Say Officials Should Identify Nursing Homes With Coronavirus Outbreaks

– John Carroll , KPBS reporter.

Governor Newsom Announces More Than 15,000 Hotel Rooms For People Who Are Homeless, Notes Hospitalization Rate Increased Across The State

– 2:18 p.m. Saturday, April 18, 2020

From the site of a Santa Clara County Motel 6 on Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the procurement of 10,074 hotel rooms for Project Roomkey, a state partnership with FEMA to house people who are homeless in hotel rooms. 4,211 of those rooms are now occupied. Newsom also announced a partnership with the Motel 6 corporate headquarters to provide 47 Motel 6 locations across 19 counties. This will add 5,025 Motel 6 rooms to the count, exceeding the Project Roomkey goal.

Newsom added that the subset of people who are homeless that this project prioritizes includes; those who have tested positive, individuals in congregate settings that have been exposed, or higher risk individuals such as the elderly or those with chronic health conditions.

California has some 108,000 unsheltered people in the state, and has more homeless individuals per capita than any other state. "This state had a crisis on the issue of homelessness well before the crisis of COVID-19," Newsom said, and noted that each crisis exacerbates the other.

Watch here:

Along with state leaders, including California state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego, officials are looking ahead to consider the permanency of making these rooms available in the long term, and are looking at a stacked funding model to pay for it, including federal support, philanthropies, nonprofits and more. Newsom discouraged cities that are blocking the project, urging them to consider their actions.

Project Roomkey also provides additional services to the individuals housed, such as three nutritious meals.

Newsom detailed the latest statistics for the state. 87 new deaths were reported overnight for a total of 1,072 across the state. 87 is among the highest daily totals California has seen. Hospitalization rates increased by 1.3%, though ICU rates lowered slightly by 0.1%.

For individuals looking to volunteer, Newsom pointed them to the serve.ca.gov website, where they can find local efforts such as food banks, blood banks, senior centers and more. – Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS arts calendar editor/producer.

Regional Advisory Group To Develop Plan For Phased Re-Opening Of San Diego Economy

– 5:45 p.m. Friday, April 17, 2020

City and county elected officials Friday announced the creation of an advisory group that will develop strategies for an eventual phased re-opening of San Diego's economy, which has been largely shuttered due to COVID-19-related public health orders.

The San Diego Economic Recovery Advisory Group will begin meeting Monday to develop a framework for reopening the region for business once it is deemed safe.

The group will consist of local "civic and business leaders," representing a variety of industries that can advise how best to safely reopen for business, and how to have the local economy thrive in a business environment so largely affected by COVID-19.

WATCH here:

City and county officials are working with San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation to form the group, which will submit recommendations to regional leaders in conjunction with guidance from public health officials.

City and regional representatives did not make any estimates as to when the region would reopen to regular business.

"This group will not be focusing on the when, but more on the how," San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox said. "We can't afford to blindly rush into this. We will only reopen when we are convinced that doing so will not endanger more lives."

Said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer: "Saving lives, as I think all of you know, has really driven all of our decisions thus far. The same is true here. Everything will be done in coordination from a health and safety standpoint." — City News Service

CSU System Temporarily Nixes SAT & ACT Testing Requirements

– 3:45 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2020

The California State University system announced on Friday that it would be temporarily suspending the standardized testing requirements for students applying for the 2021-2022 school year. Applicants would not have to take either the SAT or ACT to qualify for admission.

“This temporary change will ensure equitable access to the university, and should provide some measure of relief to prospective students and their families," said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White

The CSU system also announced that for California residents it will increase the minimum GPA needed for admission to 2.5. Previously, any student with a 2.0 or greater was eligible.

Under the new guidelines, students whose GPAs between a 2.0 and 2.49 will be evaluated based on supplemental factors such as household income, extracurricular activities and high school coursework.

The announcement comes several weeks after the University of California system temporarily suspended its standardized testing requirements. — Joe Hong, KPBS Education Reporter

County Task Forces Created For Economic Recovery, COVID-19 Testing Expansion

– 3:34 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2020

A new group will look at a process to re-open businesses in San Diego County while another will work to increase the region’s COVID-19 testing capacity, officials said Friday.

The announcement comes as another seven San Diegans died from the virus, for a total of 70. Positive tests increased by 71 to 2,158.

The San Diego Economic Recovery Advisory Group will assess how businesses can comply with current public health orders and determine if any additional measures should be taken.

WATCH here:

County Supervisor Greg Cox said meetings will begin next week but warned the coalition that will include business and labor representatives won’t be developing a timeline.

"This group will do the groundwork so we as a region can start thinking about how we can safely and smartly reopen; this group will not be focused on the when, this group will be focused on the how,” Cox said.

A separate body will include local laboratories and medical institutions, including federally qualified health clinics, to increase the number of tests available. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Business, Labor, Politics Have Role In California Task Force

– 2 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2020

The heads of some of California's biggest companies and labor unions, four former governors and some of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's political allies will lead a task force aimed at reviving the state's economy as it officially enters an economic recession.

“We recognize our unique responsibility as Californians to do our fair share, and to help lead the way in terms of job creation, retention and job growth,” Newsom said Friday during his daily news conference on the state's response to the pandemic.

The Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery will have 80 members, though Newsom's administration did not immediately release all the names. It will focus on reviving the economy in the nation's most populous state, where more than 3 million of the state's nearly 40 million people have filed for unemployment.

The group will also work with a focus on racial and economic inequality.

“Resource-starved communities have been hit the hardest by this,” said billionaire Tom Steyer, a former candidate for president. “Any equitable recovery plan is going to have to put those communities front and center.”

Steyer will chair the task force with Ann O'Leary, Newsom's chief of staff. Former California Govs. Gray Davis and Jerry Brown, both Democrats, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, both Republicans, will sit on the task force.

Other members include Janet Yellen, former head of the Federal Reserve, Disney head Bob Iger, Apple chief executive Tim Cook, and Greg Adams, chairman of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. Representatives from labor include Service Employees International Union head Mary Kay Henry and William Adams, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. — Associated Press

Hillcrest Farmers Market To Reopen Sunday, But With New Safety Measures

– 1:00 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2020

The Hillcrest Farmers Market will reopen this weekend, however, the market will be a bit smaller, implementing coronavirus safety precautions.

The market will reopen Sunday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with special shopping hours for elderly customers from 9 to 10 a.m.

To make sure everyone can shop safely, staff and volunteers are asking the public to follow new safety procedures for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic:

– Customers will need to point to the produce item wanted for the farmer to prepare as it’s a “no-touch” market.

– No sampling or handling of produce.

– Customers are encouraged to order produce ahead of time, online.

– Observe 6’ social distancing and respect the guides marked on the street.

– No pets are allowed in the market. Only support animals will be permitted.

– Practice safe handwashing habits by using handwash stations that will be placed throughout the venue.

Other rules implemented include that only one adult will be permitted to enter the venue from each family group. Children or other dependents will be allowed provided they stay under the control of their caretakers.

More information about the market can be found on their website. – Chris Underwood, KPBS Web Producer

San Diego Comic-Con Has Been Canceled Due To Coronavirus

– 10:36 a.m., April 17, 2020

Photo by Beth Accomando

A small section of the exhibit floor at Comic-Con is shown, July 21, 2018.

This year’s San Diego Comic-Con has been canceled due to coronavirus-related restrictions around large gatherings. Organizers say they are planning for the festival to return in July 2021.

The annual confab was scheduled to take place from July 23 through July 26 in and around the San Diego Convention Center. California Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that he was not optimistic about a return of “mass gatherings” for things such as sports events, concerts and fairs in 2020.

“Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year,” organizers said in a statement Friday.

Comic-Con attracts over 135,000 people — often elaborately costumed — to the Gaslamp District every year for the comic book convention which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary. Social distancing would be difficult to manage at the convention which is infamous for its long lines and crowded rooms. It is not uncommon for thousands of people to gather in a single room for a panel discussion, and the exhibit hall is usually jam-packed with people perusing the merchandise. – Associated Press

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Workers distribute food at a San Diego Food Bank drive-through distribution site at the Grossmont Center in La Mesa, April 17, 2020.

San Diego Food Bank Holds Drive-Through Distribution In La Mesa

– 8:25 a.m., Friday, April 17, 2020

The San Diego Food Bank will hold a drive-through distribution of food and toilet paper Friday morning at Grossmont Center in La Mesa.

The event is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., rain or shine. Food Bank officials said they have enough supplies to give the first 1,000 vehicles toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes and 40 pounds of food.

Only one vehicle per household will be permitted and attendees must enter Grossmont Center from Jackson Drive.

Residents should remain in their cars with the windows rolled up and volunteers will place the donated items directly in the trunk of each vehicle, organizers said. – City News Service

San Diego Announces Public-Private Partnership To Help Local Artists

– 5:48 p.m., Thursday, April 16, 2020

The creation of a private-public partnership to help San Diego artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was announced by the city Thursday.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said $1.25 million has already been secured for the effort to sustain local artists, with a goal of reaching at least $2 million. Initial funding sources include the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition, the San Diego Foundation, the city and private donors.

WATCH here:

The announcement comes one day after Faulconer unveiled a proposed budget that included cuts to a number of city sectors due to the COVID-19 crisis, including reducing next year's round of arts and culture grants by half, accounting for $5.8 million.

Faulconer said that despite the cuts, "Make no mistake, arts, culture are incredibly important under the fabric of really who we are in this great city of ours."

He said the partnership would secure grants for local artists, have the city purchase artwork from local artists to add to the city's civic art collection and expand public art investment.

Anyone interested in donating to the fund, dubbed the San Diego Arts + Culture Challenge, may do so at www.sandiegoracc.org/challenge. — City News Service

Three More Fatalities Reported, San Diego Coronavirus Cases Rise To 2,087

– 3:20 p.m., Thursday, April 16, 2020

The region’s positive cases have increased 75 for a total of 2,087, San Diego County officials announced Thursday. An additional three people died from the infection. That brings fatalities up to 63.

The three people who died had underlying medical conditions and included a woman in her late 30s, a woman in her 70s and a man in his early 50s.

However, the uptick is moderate compared to surges seen in other regions. County officials said that’s a sign that the public health restrictions are working and should remain in place.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher pointed to a second wave of infections in Singapore as a cautionary tale about what happens when people become complacent.

“They did have the public lose the same commitment that they had in the early days,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said following the path of Singapore could cause infections to rapidly escalate in San Diego, and pointed to a graph that showed a peak of around 5,000 cases a day by late May.

At the same time, County Supervisor Jim Desmond is pushing for businesses to get to work. In an email with the subject line “Getting San Diego Back Open”, he asked owners to share how they’ll keep workers and customers safe if they’re allowed to re-open. The message linked to a website that asks if businesses will agree to certain measures and said Desmond will deliver their ideas and pledges to county health officials later this month. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Newsom Announces 2 Weeks Paid Sick Leave For Food Chain Workers

– 2:50 p.m., Thursday, April 16, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed an executive order to mandate two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for a broad swath of workers in the California food industry — from people who grow and harvest food to those who pack, deliver, cook and serve it.

“We don't want you going to work if you're sick,” Newsom said. “If you're sick, it’s okay to acknowledge it. And it's okay to let your employer know and still know that you're going to get a supplemental paycheck for a minimum of two weeks.”

WATCH here:

The additional sick leave would cover full-time and regular workers at companies with 500 or more employees if the worker is sick or needs to self-isolate because of COVID-19.

In announcing the move, Newsom noted the importance of keeping California’s food chain intact.

“Grocery lines are also the front lines in this pandemic,” he said. The food sector “by definition is essential to our livelihoods and our capacity to meet just basic needs.”

The governor said he worked closely on the order with United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents many grocery workers, as well as the California Grocers Association.

“The top priority of every grocery store has always been the health and safety of our employees and our shoppers, which has taken on obviously an increased importance during this public health crisis,” said California Grocers Association president Ronald Fong during Thursday’s press conference.

The executive order also mandates that employees be allowed to wash their hands every 30 minutes, or more frequently, if needed. — Monica Lam, KQED

WATCH: County Public Health Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

– 2:30 p.m., Thursday, April 16, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

COVID-19 Testing Begins For Temporary Residents Of Convention Center

– 2:12 p.m., Thursday, April 16, 2020

Family Health Centers of San Diego began offering free and voluntary COVID-19 tests Thursday for shelter residents at the San Diego Convention Center, a city statement said.

Offered in consultation with San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency and the City of San Diego, the tests will ideally help to identify and contain the virus earlier.

Family Health Centers of San Diego will provide the COVID-19 on-site testing. Medical professionals will educate clients on the tests, assist in self-administering them, deliver results to individuals and work with county public health officials to quickly and safely isolate anyone who tests positive. They will also work with the county on reporting positive and negative test results in a manner that protects residents' privacy rights.

Processes are in place to immediately isolate and treat anyone who tests positive in order to protect the health of everyone in the convention center. Convention center guests will be tested in groups of up to 150 per day beginning with shelter clients served by Veterans Village of San Diego Thursday.

"This preemptive testing will identify and contain the virus earlier if it is present, helping staff respond proactively and get people into treatment sooner," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

"Anyone experiencing homelessness who comes into the convention center will receive health monitoring and treatment that's critical to both their personal wellbeing and the health of the broader community," he said.

The decision to test residents is a proactive and preventive step the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, San Diego Housing Commission and Regional Task Force on the Homeless are taking to provide a safe environment for this vulnerable population. There is no requirement from public health officials that shelter residents be tested if they are not presenting symptoms of the illness.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the Lucky Duck Foundation donated the tests.

"It is a testament to the commitment made by local government, service providers and nonprofits to work in a coordinated manner to slow the spread of coronavirus," he said.

Fletcher confirmed another positive case Wednesday in a person experiencing homelessness, raising the number of cases in that population to 14.

Other preventive measures being taken at the shelter include:

– Screening clients and staff at the convention center daily by temperature check and verbal questionnaire

– Washing and sanitization of hands upon each reentry into the facility

– Wearing a face covering is strongly recommended when moving about or leaving the convention center

– Prevention and safety messages are announced every two hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. over the PA system

– Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and the facility, frequently evaluating and isolating individuals exhibiting any symptoms of illness and transferring off-site if necessary. – City News Service

San Diego July Pride Celebration Canceled Due To Coronavirus

– 9:05 a.m. Thursday, April 16, 2020

Photo by KPBS Staff

San Diego Pride attendees march during the parade, July 2017.

San Diego Pride announced Thursday that all Pride celebration gatherings scheduled for July have been canceled.

"Given the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, large-scale events such as Pride Parades and Festivals are simply not possible and pose too much of a risk to public health and safety," the announcement read.

Many local officials, including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, commended the decision.

“Today’s decision was not made lightly and with the best interest of the health of everyone in mind," he said "This year’s theme for Pride perfectly expresses how we will get through this: by coming together, supporting our fellow San Diegans, and rising to the challenge before us just as we have done so many times before. Together we will rise, San Diego.”

State Assembly Member Todd Gloria said, "While this year’s celebration may not take place, we should still celebrate within ourselves who we are and how far we’ve come. Together, we will get through this tough time and I have every confidence that together we will be able to celebrate again." - KPBS News

City Of San Diego Will Layoff Hundreds To Close Historic Budget Deficit

– 6:10 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, 2020

With sale and hotel tax revenues plummeting because of the pandemic, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday unveiled a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that projects a $250-million deficit — the largest in the city’s history.

In order to close the budget hole, Faulconer is proposing more than 350 layoffs, significant cuts to library and rec center hours, and to arts and culture grants.

“We’ve never had a month when [most of] what funds our city budget comes to a screeching halt,” Faulconer said during an afternoon news conference. “We’ve never had a budget like this.”

WATCH here:

The focus now, the mayor said, is on essential city services such as public safety, road maintenance, trash pickup and homeless services.

“They will continue and they will continue to be our focus,” Faulconer said.

On the revenue side, Faulconer said the city is expecting zero hotel tax revenue in April and “very little” in May. The city is also projecting a cumulative $55 million drop in sales tax revenues for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years.

The City Council now begins an exhaustive review of the mayor's proposed budget. The mayor will present a revised spending plan in May, with a council vote set for early June. — David Washburn, KPBS Editor

Hundreds of Low-Level Inmates To Be Released On $0 Bail

– 4:17 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, 2020

San Diego County is reducing its jail population under a judicial order to create more space as the pandemic continues to spread in the region and across the state.

Sheriff Bill Gore said on Wednesday the department has released more than a thousand inmates to cut the population from 6,500 to 4,345 and plans to release hundreds more this week per a statewide directive.

A California judicial body earlier this month ordered bail be set at $0 for misdemeanors or low-level felonies.

“Right now I have about 500 people that fall into that category in our facilities, that are not serious or violent and are pre-trial inmates,” Gore said at the county’s daily coronavirus update.

However, Gore said the county’s district attorney will request a higher bail amount for around 100 cases. He said the prosecutor will work on agreements with defense attorneys for those inmates by an April 20 deadline.

“The way it looks like now, I anticipate by close of business day or over the next day or two releasing another 400, approximately 400 inmates from my facility on zero bail,” Gore said.

He said a total of three inmates have tested positive for cononavirus, a low figure he attributed to the prior releases and policies to limit people entering the facility.

Countywide, more than 2,000 San Diegans have now tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus struck the region, county officials also announced Wednesday. An additional 82 people tested positive, pushing the region’s total to 2,012. Another seven individuals died, ranging in age from mid-60s to 100 years old, for a total of 60 fatalities. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

San Diego County Confirms 82 New Coronavirus Cases, 7 Deaths

– 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, 2020

San Diego County officials Wednesday confirmed 82 new cases and seven new deaths from COVID-19. The county's numbers now sit at 2,012 cases and 60 deaths.

San Diego Congressional Delegation Ask Leaders for Zoo, Museum Relief

– 3:06, Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Members of San Diego's congressional delegation sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Wednesday seeking COVID-19 relief assistance for zoos, aquariums and museums nationwide, including the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.

"For the first time in their 103-year history, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were forced to close their doors to the public in the wake of COVID-19," the letter signed by Reps. Susan Davis, Scott Peters, Juan Vargas and Mike Levin reads.

"With this unprecedented closure, the zoo is still incurring significant expenses to care for its animals and plants, including many who are threatened or endangered, as well as those of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, without revenue to mitigate costs," the letter says. "During normal operations, San Diego Zoo Global's economic impact is an estimated $1.7 billion annually, employing 3,000 Californians, and indirectly contributing to more than 14,000 jobs in San Diego."

The members asked for three specific actions from congressional leadership:

— lift caps on the paycheck protection program offered through the Small Business Association to include nonprofit organizations with more than 500 employees;

— allocate an additional $1 billion to the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support zoos, aquariums and museums in preventing, preparing and responding to COVID-19; and

— expand the universal charitable deduction provision in the COVID-19 stimulus CARES Act by removing the $300 cap.

With those changes, nonprofit organizations would have a fighting chance to stay open after the worst of the public health crisis and could continue scientific work while closed, the San Diego lawmakers said.

Last year, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park together welcomed more than 5 million visitors.

The parks are home to more than 6,500 animals of more than 950 species. – City News Service

San Diego Symphony Cancels Season Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

– 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The San Diego Symphony announced Wednesday that it is canceling the rest of the 2019-2020 season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The cancellation includes all of the concerts through May.

In a written statement, Martha Gilmer, the San Diego Symphony CEO, said: “Now more than ever, we need the support of our patrons. I respectfully ask that ticket holders consider donating the value of their ticket back to the San Diego Symphony. Their tax-deductible donation today means that the next time they are able to join us at Copley Symphony Hall for a concert, the orchestra will be here to share the joy of live music with them once more, as a healthy, vibrant and financially secure organization. Though our current season was unexpectedly cut short, we can find comfort in the anticipation of the 2020-2021 season which we announced on April 5.”

Performances in other San Diego communities are canceled, including:

– April 25 Music Connects in Foothills United Methodist Church

– May 12 Bronfman Plays Schumann at The Conrad in La Jolla

Those who have tickets to a canceled event could either:

– Donate the value of their tickets.

– Exchange tickets for one of the 2020–2021 indoor season concerts.

– Put tickets on their account for future use.

The symphony is encouraging fans and supporters to follow the musicians virtually on social media. – Chris Underwood, KPBS Web Producer

California To Give Cash Payments To Immigrants Hurt By Coronavirus

— 1 p.m., Wednesday 15, 2020

California will give cash payments to immigrants living in the country illegally, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday, using a mix of taxpayer money and charitable contributions to give 150,000 adults $500 each during the coronavirus outbreak.

California has an estimated 2 million immigrants living in the country illegally. They are not eligible for the $2.2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress last month, which gives cash payments to most Americans plus boosts unemployment benefits by $600 per week.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” said Newsom, who noted 10% of the state's workforce are immigrants living in the country illegally who paid more than $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.

WATCH here:

Taxpayers are kicking in $75 million for the money, while a group of charities has committed to raise another $50 million for a total of $125 million. A group of charities has already donated $5.5 million for the fund, including the Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor.

Newsom said the money will not be distributed based on income. "Their personal information will not be required to get those support,” he said.

California has been the most aggressive state in the nation when it comes to giving benefits to immigrants living in the country illegally. Last year, California became the first state to give taxpayer-funded health benefits to low-income adults 25 and younger living in the country illegally. This year, Newsom had proposed expanding those benefits to seniors 65 and older. *— Associated Press

City To Expand Efforts To Move San Diego's Homeless Into Convention Center

– 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Plans were announced Tuesday to extend COVID-19 outreach efforts to San Diego's transient population as part of the city's Operation Shelter to Home campaign, which has moved hundreds of homeless individuals into the San Diego Convention Center.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the next phase of the shelter efforts will be to move people living on the streets into the venue, which he said could accommodate 1,500 people.

"That convention center beacon is more important now than ever, particularly for folks that are unsheltered," Faulconer said.

WATCH:

The mayor said the initial phase involved moving more than 800 homeless individuals from the city's shelters, including those run by the Alpha Project, Veterans Village of San Diego, and Father Joe's Villages.

Now, city outreach teams are working to encourage those living outdoors to consider taking shelter in the convention center, where they can receive food, showers and sleep in beds that are spaced to provide proper social distancing.

The mayor said 89 homeless people were brought into the convention center by city and police department outreach teams since Friday.

Faulconer said everyone admitted to the convention center is medically screened for COVID-19 and other illnesses, then given daily checkups once admitted.

Anyone who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms is isolated and/or transferred to an off-site medical facility.

"This is incredibly important for this very vulnerable population, many of whom has underlying health conditions," Faulconer said.

Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe's Villages, said: "It's absolutely critical that we continue to take people off the streets. That's going to make all the difference in the world in reducing the risk of contagion, not only amongst those who are on the streets, but in the general population."

The ultimate goal of Operation Shelter, according to the city, is to help individuals end "their cycle of homelessness, with the goal of ultimately reducing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in San Diego." — City News Service

Testing For Homeless, Local Job Opportunities Touted At County Update

– 3:51 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, 2020

San Diego County officials announced on Tuesday new testing opportunities for the region’s vulnerable homeless population and highlighted local job opportunities for residents seeking work during a daily news conference on the government’s coronavirus response.

Officials said two local organizations are working together to test all homeless individuals housed at the San Diego Convention Center for COVID-19. The testing will be administered by Family Health Centers of San Diego and funded by Lucky Duck Foundation.

The process will begin Thursday with 150 tests a day and grow to 250 until all are tested, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

In a news release, the city of San Diego said the convention center’s population will grow as it will welcome inside more of the city’s unsheltered population.

Fletcher has previously said that 13 homeless individuals tested positive for coronavirus, but none of them were located at the convention center.

As of Tuesday, overall 1,930 people have tested positive for the illness in San Diego County, an increase of 83 from the previous day, officials said. An additional six people died from COVID-19, bringing that total to 53.

As the virus continues to spread, so does its impact on the economy. Statewide more than 2 million residents applied for unemployment but the San Diego Workforce Partnership announced hundreds of local jobs are available.

Peter Callstrom, the partnership’s CEO, said at the conference that more than 300 positions were open.

“These are everywhere from Qualcomm to Home Depot to Scripps — they’re all over the place and it’s a very dynamic time so we really encourage people to sign up, go there and avail these resources,” Callstrom said.

Callstrom said the partnership also has resources for local businesses affected by the global outbreak. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

Parking Free In San Diego Because Of Coronavirus Pandemic

– 3:20 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Photo caption:

Photo by Katie Schoolov

A parking meter is seen in Hillcrest, April 3, 2017.

San Diegans may have missed this in the rush of news in recent weeks all metered parking is free in the city.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued an executive order setting the entire city on Sunday and holiday parking rules as of March 16, which means no payment at parking meters and no time limits in parking spots. You can also park in yellow commercial zones, but still can't park in red or white zones, or blue zones unless you have a handicap permit.

City spokeswoman Racquel Vasquez said many other cities have also stopped using parking meters.

"Suspending the use of parking meters and city-operated parking lot payment devices is all to curb the exposure to COVID-19 on meter surfaces," she said.

Chula Vista is also not enforcing parking meters downtown; Oceanside is still enforcing parking meters but has suspended street sweeping enforcement; and, National City is not enforcing street sweeping rules.

Of course, if you are out and about for a non-essential reason — such as visiting a closed park or trail — you can be cited no matter where you park. — Claire Trageser, KPBS Investigative Reporter

WATCH: San Diego County Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Pandemic

– 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

Council Defers Police-Regulated Business Permits Due to COVID-19

– 1:51 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance Tuesday deferring fees and renewing permits for businesses requiring police regulation for 120 days in light of economic slowdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ordinance would allow the more than 2,900 businesses in San Diego which require police regulation to defer late fees for police permits and to extend those permits for businesses renewing between April 1 and June 30.

They would have an additional 120 days from their renewal dates to pay.

Businesses or occupations that require police regulation include adult entertainment businesses, pawn shops, firearm dealers, pool rooms, massage therapists and tobacco retailers. Costs of the permits range from $25 per event for going-out-of-business sales all the way up to $9,320 per year for outcall nude entertainment businesses.

On March 30, Mayor Kevin Faulconer directed the Office of the City Treasurer to defer all business tax certificates for 120 days, but that left businesses that need police regulation in a strange position.

Those businesses or occupations generally must acquire a business tax certificate as well, so while one permit was deferred for shuttered businesses, one bill was still coming due.

Councilman Scott Sherman gave comment on the ordinance before voting yes, stating that he wanted the city to enforce permits equitably.

"If I can't open my doors for three months, I shouldn't be charged by the city for three months," he said. "It's a basic fairness issue."

According to city staff data, the loss of revenue due to the deferments will amount to $157,844.

Businesses and residences still need police permits for burglary or panic alarms. – City News Service

Government Awards COVID-19 Aid to Airports in San Diego

– 1:49 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Airports in San Diego County will receive more than $91.6 million in government aid to help respond to plunging demand created by the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday.

The airport receiving the most funding in the region is San Diego International with $91.2 million, while Brown Field Municipal and Gillespie Field in El Cajon will each receive $157,000.

Montgomery-Gibbs Executive's share is $69,000, and Bob Maxwell Memorial Airfield in Oceanside will receive $30,000.

The funding is part of the Trump administration's newly created Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Airport Grant Program. U.S.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the FAA will award $10 billion to the nation's airports, with about $1 billion going to 188 airports in California.

"This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation's airports during this crisis and save workers' jobs," she said.

The funding will support continuing operations and replace lost revenue resulting from the sharp decline in passenger traffic and other airport business due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The funds are available for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments.

"Thank you to the dedicated men and women from the FAA's Office of Airports for creating an entirely new program in record time to assist airport sponsors in desperate need of these funds," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. – City News Service

Newsom Gives Outline For Reopening California But No Date

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday revealed an outline for lifting coronavirus restrictions in the nation's most populous state.

He wants to see hospitalization numbers flatten and decline before he begins rolling back stay-at-home orders. But he said things won't look the same when the state reopens.

WATCH:

Newsom said waiters at restaurants will likely be wearing masks and gloves. And he said public schools could stagger the times when students arrive to maintain social distancing.

California has been under a statewide stay-at-home order since March 19. Since then, more than 2 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits. — Associated Press

San Diego Small Businesses Must Apply By Tonight To Get COVID-19 Relief Funds

– 7 a.m., Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Qualifying small businesses in the City of San Diego must apply by Tuesday night for money from the city's Small Business Relief Fund, which recently received more than $300,000 in donations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

GoFundMe, Qualcomm and Cal Coast Credit Union have contributed $100,000 each in a bid to encourage others to donate to the relief fund, aimed at helping local small businesses retain employees and stay afloat, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Monday.

The Small Business Relief Fund was started with $6.1 million and has drawn more than 9,000 applicants for grants and micro-loans, a demand that has far exceeded the available funds.

Qualifying businesses can apply by 11:59 p.m. today at www.sandiego.gov/SBRF.

To be eligible, businesses must be located within San Diego, have a valid San Diego business tax certificate, less than 100 employees, documentation showing the business has been operational for at least six months and an ability to demonstrate economic hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak. – City News Service

San Diego Zoo Begins Virtual Celebration For 50th Anniversary Of Earth Day

– 6 p.m., Monday, April 13, 2020

San Diego Zoo Global Monday began a virtual Earth Day celebration, where online visitors can participate in activities and gain access to educational resources while learning ways to co-exist with nature.

The zoo's programs for Earth Day's 50th anniversary include allowing participants to study animal behavior, view and classify photos taken on remote trail cameras, a gorilla-themed coloring project for children and an Earth Day nature scavenger hunt.

Earth Day is celebrated globally on April 22 and was first celebrated in 1970. — City News Service

Mayor Falconer To Announce $300,000-Plus In Private Donations, Launch New Effort to Help Small Businesses

– 4:20 p.m., Monday, April 13, 2020

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry will announce more than $300,000 in private donations to launch a new partnership that will expand the City’s Small Business Relief Fund and allow the community to make donations of any size to support local businesses.

Coronavirus Cases Rise Again In San Diego County, 2 New Deaths Reported

– 4 p.m. Monday, April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 death toll in San Diego County neared four dozen Monday, with two new fatalities reported, raising the county total to 47. Health officials announced 43 new cases of the virus, lifting the total to 1,847.

Both new deaths were women, one in her late 90s, the other aged 100.

The number of hospitalizations grew from 415 to 420, and the number of patients in intensive care rose from 152 to 156. The county estimates 556 positive-testing individuals have recovered.

The trends over the weekend appeared favorable, with slow growth and few additional deaths, but health officials warned against reading too much into the figures. Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's director of the epidemiology branch, said the public should be looking at long-term trends, and those trends are still increasing.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher reported that 13 homeless individuals in the county were among those who have tested positive for COVID-19 — to date, no temporary residents of the San Diego Convention Center have tested positive. — City News Service

California To Strategize With Oregon, Washington On Post-Coronavirus Economic Recovery Plan

– 2:00 p.m., Monday, April 13, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he will announce a detailed plan on Tuesday for lifting coronavirus restrictions, a decision he says will be made without “political pressure” in an apparent message to President Donald Trump declaring himself the ultimate decision-maker of when states can reopen.

Newsom provided few details of his plan on Monday, saying it would be an “incremental release of the stay-at-home orders," a decision made in coordination with the governors of Washington and Oregon that will use “science to guide our decision-making and not political pressure.”

On Monday, Trump posted a message on Twitter noting that some people are saying that it's up to the governors to open up the states, not the president or the federal government. “Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect,” Trump wrote. "It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons.”

Newsom and Trump have been political enemies, clashing about abortion rights and the environment, but both men have praised the other's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump has even used some of Newsom's comments in a campaign ad.

On Monday, Newsom continued nursing that delicate dynamic by seemingly expressing his independence from Trump while also stressing their partnership.

“I have have all the confidence in the world moving forward that we will maintain that collaborative spirit in terms of the decision-making that we make here within the state of California as it relates to a road map for recovery,” Newsom said.

California has more than 23,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 680 deaths. But the number of hospitalizations, including those placed in intensive care, have held steady in recent days; a sign the virus might not be as catastrophic in California as state officials had feared.

ICU hospitalizations rose 2.9% on Sunday to 1,178, leaving thousands of beds available should there be a surge of patients.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.– Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 43 New Coronavirus Cases, No New Deaths

– 2:30 p.m., Sunday, April 12, 2020

San Diego County officials reported 43 new coronavirus cases in the county on Sunday and no new deaths.

Officials provided the updated numbers in a new release issued Sunday afternoon, in lieu of their daily press conference.

In California, the number of coronavirus cases rose to 21,794, 1,169 more than what was reported Saturday. Forty-two new deaths were reported statewide, bringing the total virus-related deaths in the state to 651, according to the California Department of Public Health.

In total, there are 1,804 confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Diego County and 45 deaths connected to the virus. Of those 1,804 cases, 415 cases have required hospitalization and 152 patients had to be placed in intensive care.

Officials said Saturday that the number of cases in San Diego had not yet "peaked" in the county, but commended residents for “flattening the curve” by strictly following social-distancing guidelines. – KPBS Social Media Strategist Laura McVicker

San Diego Mayor Encourages Home Worship On Easter, Passover

– 8:15 a.m., April 12, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has urged San Diegans to celebrate Easter and Passover from home to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Stay-at-home orders will be strictly enforced on Easter Sunday, said Faulconer, who added that he believed the majority of San Diego faith organizations have adapted to the public health orders despite their impact on the holidays.

"Those traditions, of course, will be different this year, and they must be different to help keep everyone safe," Faulconer said. "COVID-19 is an equal opportunity disease that is affecting people across the globe regardless of race or religion."

Pastor Miles McPherson of Rock Church said at a City Hall news conference that worshippers should focus on the meaning of Easter rather than the physical limitations caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Rabbi Devorah Marcus of Temple Emanu-El said her synagogue, like congregations of various faiths, has been streaming its services from an empty room featuring just the leader.

"At the beginning of this process, it definitely felt strange, but we have all found new ways to connect more deeply across all of the electronic media and to feel closer than ever," Marcus said.

Marcus said her congregation was referring to the current times as "sacred distancing" rather than social distancing, "which implies loneliness and isolation."

Preparations for online religious services come as several churches across the nation contend their local public health orders restricting religious public gatherings are unconstitutional.

On Friday, the Campo-based Abiding Place Ministries was denied a motion for a temporary restraining order against San Diego County's public health directive to hold an Easter Sunday service.

The county advised church leaders they could stream their Easter service online, but said church members must stay at home. – City News Service

COVID-19 International and National Headlines

– 5:21 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic that has crippled big-box retailers and mom-and-pop shops worldwide may be making a dent in illicit business, too. In Chicago, one of America’s most violent cities, drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the mayor ordered the city to shut down, compared with the same period last year. Overall, Chicago’s crime declined 10% last month, a trend playing out across the U.S. Much of the decrease has taken place because of tougher security policies and gang truces. But the imposition of near-total limits on movement is likely driving it down further.

Walt Disney World plans to stop paying wages to 43,000 workers in about a week while allowing them to keep their benefits for up to a year as they stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. The deal with the workers unions was announced on Saturday. This is the largest wave of furloughs since the theme park resort closed in mid-March. Workers will be able to keep their medical benefits for the length of the furlough period, or up to a year. Seniority and wage rates will remain unchanged for the workers whose furloughs start April 19. About 200 workers will remain on the job.

Iran will begin reopening government agencies after a brief nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has killed more than 4,300 people in Iran, which is battling the worst outbreak in the Middle East. Authorities had ordered most government agencies and businesses to remain closed for a week after the Nowruz holiday ended on April 4. State media say government offices outside the capital will reopen, with a third of employees working from home. Businesses outside Tehran were also allowed to reopen. In Egypt, police used tear gas to disperse villagers after they tried to prevent the burial of a physician who died from the virus, fearing it would spread the disease. – Associated Press

SD County Announces 68 New Cases of COVID-19 And A New Position To Coordinate Testing

– 3:43 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

At a press conference Saturday afternoon, county officials announced one new death and 68 new positive cases of COVID-19 in San Diego county. The death was of a man in his early eighties.

While officials said that San Diego has not yet "peaked" in the number of cases in the county, they commended residents for “flattening the curve” by strictly following social-distancing guidelines.

Officials also warned against relaxing any of the current safety precautions, which they say have bought medical professionals time to prepare for the eventual peak of the pandemic in the county.

Watch here:

"It would be the greatest shame to throw away all of that progress and to waste all of that sacrifice because we got impatient, because we got anxious, because we lost focus," said county supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

"We have to trust what we’re doing. We have to trust the path that we’re on. We have to trust our public health experts, doctors and their advice, and we have to trust one another to stay the course and see this through."

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said that only after the cases in the county peak would they be able to reevaluate relaxing some social-distancing guidelines, and only in a gradual way.

Supervisor Fletcher also announced that the county would be soon identifying a “testing coordinator” to help integrate all of the different testing efforts in the county.

“The availability of widespread rapid testing is a foundational piece of any effort that must accompany any consideration of reopening our society,” he said.

There are a total of 68 new positive cases among San Diego residents for a total of 1,761 confirmed positive cases. 1,077 new tests were performed, with a total of 24,430 total tests throughout San Diego County.

Fletcher announced 443 estimated recovered cases, 396 hospitalizations, including 144 ICU patients, and a total of 45 deaths in the region.

There will be no public briefing from the county tomorrow and residents were reminded to celebrate the holiday by staying home. – KPBS Staff

Navy Says USS Theodore Roosevelt Has 550 COVID-19 Cases

– 1:58 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

The U.S. Navy on Saturday announced 103 new cases of coronavirus onboard the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, bringing the number of positive cases on the ship to 550.

"As of today, 92% of the USS Theodore Roosevelt crew members have been tested for COVID-19, with 550 positive and 3,673 negative results,'' Navy officials said Saturday.

In response, 3,696 sailors have moved ashore, which includes 518 who were taken off the ship since Friday.

The Navy issued new COVID-19 guidance on Friday, saying:

"Individuals identified as having confirmed or probable COVID-19 will be placed under isolation and evacuated off the ship as soon as practical, if developing more severe symptoms.''

The Navy added that "the majority of COVID-19 patients will have mild symptoms and can remain on ship and be monitored until meeting return-to-work criteria.''

The nuclear-powered ship's outbreak has been in the spotlight since Capt. Brett Crozier sent a memo pleading for help after dozens of people on the ship had tested positive. Crozier was fired, leading to the acting Secretary of the Navy's eventual resignation.

In his memo, Crozier urged that about 90% of the ship's more than 4,000 sailors be moved ashore and into quarantine, saying "decisive action is required.'' – City News Service

WATCH: Governor Newsom Delivers Video Update Urging Californians To Stay Home This Weekend

– 12:25 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

In a recorded video message, Governor Newsom warns that going out this weekend may jeopardize the significant progress California has made in bending the curve against the spread of the coronavirus. With a message from The Rock, he urges residents to stay home despite the holiday weekend.

San Diego Mayor, Religious Leaders Urging San Diegans To Celebrate Passover, Easter From Home

– 6:10 p.m., Friday, April 10, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer gathered with local religious leaders Friday to urge San Diegans to celebrate Easter and Passover from home in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Stay-at-home orders will be strictly enforced on Easter Sunday, said Faulconer, who added that he believed the majority of San Diego faith organizations have adapted to the public health orders despite their impact on the holidays.

"Those traditions, of course, will be different this year, and they must be different to help keep everyone safe," Faulconer said. "COVID-19 is an equal opportunity disease that is affecting people across the globe regardless of race or religion."

Watch here:

Pastor Miles McPherson of Rock Church said at the City Hall news conference worshippers should focus on the meaning of Easter rather than the physical limitations caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Rabbi Devorah Marcus of Temple Emanu-El said her synagogue, like congregations of various faiths, has been streaming its services from an empty room featuring just the leader.

"At the beginning of this process, it definitely felt strange, but we have all found new ways to connect more deeply across all of the electronic media and to feel closer than ever," Marcus said.

Marcus said her congregation was referring to the current times as "sacred distancing" rather than social distancing, "which implies loneliness and isolation."

Preparations for online religious services come as several churches across the nation contend their local public health orders restricting religious public gatherings are unconstitutional.

On Friday, the Campo-based Abiding Place Ministries was denied a motion for a temporary restraining order against San Diego County's public health order in order to hold an Easter Sunday service.

The county advised church leaders they could stream their Easter service online, but said church members must stay at home.

The Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi in the San Joaquin Valley has drawn national attention for not heeding directives against public gatherings.

The church's landlord recently changed the building's locks, unbeknownst to its pastor, Jon Duncan, who said in a televised interview that, "We don't believe a virus cancels the First Amendment." — City News Service

County Officials Remind San Diegans To Maintain Social Distancing During Easter, Passover

– 3:41 p.m., Friday, April 10, 2020

Four more San Diegans have died from the novel coronavirus and an additional 65 have tested positive as county officials on Friday urged residents to refrain from gatherings over the holiday weekend.

The new numbers bring the region’s total deaths to 44 and positive cases up to 1,693.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher discouraged public gatherings but said celebrations can be enjoyed with the people you live with and asked residents to communicate with those who don’t have the same opportunity.

“If you’re blessed and fortunate to have a household unit that you can physically be around you should enjoy and appreciate it but it’s a good weekend to reach out to someone,” Fletcher said.

The county earlier this week banned people from collecting in public groups of any size and encouraged them to turn online to stream religious services.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology and immunizations services, acknowledged that San Diegans have made sacrifices over the last several weeks — from job losses and school closures to missing opportunities to visit loved ones in medical facilities.

But he said the impact is significant.

“What it really means is saving lives,” McDonald said. “So for those who have made those sacrifices, we thank you and want to let you know it directly affects other people's lives and wellbeing, so thank you.”

Officials also said on Friday an estimated 373 patients have recovered from the virus. That’s an increase from 201 earlier this week. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Gov. Newsom Defends Efforts To Support Nursing Homes With COVID-19 Infections

– 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 10, 2020

Photo caption:

Photo by Rich Pedroncelli AP

Gov. Gavin Newsom, pictured on Monday, says California has reduced a backlog of testing. The state is asking for contributions of medical supplies with a new website.

Gov. Gavin Newsom began his daily press briefing Friday with some numbers on COVID-19 in nursing homes and other group facilities serving the older Californians.

  • Of 1,224 nursing homes, 191 have reported infections, for a total of 1,266 sick residents/staff
  • Of 7,461 licensed group homes, 94 have reported infections, involving 370 sick patients/staff.

"You may say that sounds relatively modest. But that doesn't give you the entire picture," said the Governor.

Referencing recent headlines from around the state, he insisted that supporting nursing homes is "part of the overall strategy" for state officials.

"We've put out new specific guidelines and strategies," he said, referring to a March 3 list of recommendations from California public health officials that includes basic ideas such as designating staff who will be responsible for caring for suspected or known COVID-19 patients, and ensuring that they are trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment.

Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services agency, added the state is committed to providing PPE to health care staff in the facilities. In addition, Governor Newsom said the state has "SWAT teams" of "trained nurses" who will now be redirected from regulatory duties to "saturate those areas of concern and focus" with more site visits.

He did not offer much detail beyond that, other than suggesting those nurses would help local facilities "identify, isolate, quarantine, trace and track" COVID-19 cases.

Noting that many nursing homes have established relationships with local hospitals, Newsom said he is not recommending homes send COVID-19 positive cases to those hospitals, but to other facilities, the state has identified, including the USNS Mercy, the U.S. Navy's hospital ship that is currently docked in the Port of Los Angeles.

Finally, Newsom said that the state is also working with FEMA to support daily meal delivery to home-bound elderly Californians, utilizing the help of local restaurants.

"Meals on Wheels alone can't do what is required to protect our seniors,” he said. "We have well over 1 million people isolated at home." — Rachael Myrow, KQED

5 Scripps Health Hospital Campuses Now Equipped With Rapid COVID-19 Tests

– 8:08 a.m., Friday, April 10, 2020

Five Scripps Health hospital campuses in San Diego County are now equipped with a point-of-care test that can detect coronavirus in as little as five minutes.

The test, which will be used to screen for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients requiring quick diagnostic turnaround, can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes, a hospital statement said Thursday. The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27. – City News Service

San Diego Manufacturing PPE With 3D Printers At Downtown Library

The city of San Diego showcased an initiative Thursday to manufacture personal protective equipment via 3D printers at the San Diego Central Library, which city leaders hope will help address widespread shortages of protective equipment for local medical workers.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said a dozen of the downtown library's 3D printers are being used to print face shields for local hospitals.

The printers can collectively produce about 50 face shields per day at a time when they are at a premium.

While the library remains closed to the public per local public health orders, its infrastructure is being utilized as part of Faulconer's order issued last week making all city properties available for COVID-19-related uses.

"Our community cannot afford to have our medical staff compromised," Faulconer said. "These face shields are very important. They provide an additional barrier to keep medical staff safe while they are on the front lines."

Faulconer said each shield takes about two hours to print from materials that cost about $2.50. The San Diego Public Library Foundation, which is funding the project, has also committed to purchasing an additional three printers to increase production.

Hospitals and other healthcare providers will receive the shields free of charge, Faulconer said.

Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder said these kinds of face shields are "almost impossible to get right now" due to a variety of factors, including a lack of raw materials needed to produce them. In addition, the shields are not conducive for re-use due to a concern of spreading COVID- 19, meaning "most of them can be used once and have to be thrown out."

The mayor said the concept was born out of a "unique partnership" between local schools, healthcare organizations and libraries, which started when Francis Parker science teacher Denver Guess reached out to a former student's parent, who worked for Scripps.

"A lot of San Diegans have come together to make this a reality," Faulconer said. "This partnership is going to save lives, truly." — City News Service

Bank, Transportation Employees Ordered To Cover Faces While On The Job

– 3:39 p.m. Thursday, April 9, 2020

More essential workers in San Diego County are required to wear cloth face coverings. Officials announced on Thursday that bank and public transportation employees must adhere to the order beginning Monday.

The amendment comes as four additional people died, bringing the total fatalities to 40, and an additional 98 people tested positive for the coronavirus. The countywide tally now stands at 1,628 cases.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher acknowledged the increase was the largest jump in five days, but again warned against making interpretations. ‘

“(It) is not anymore a cause for alarm than a lower total from a couple of days ago is cause for relief,” Fletcher said.

Officials also launched a new data dashboard that shows current and past information about coronavirus in San Diego. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

San Diego Business Survey Shows Layoffs Still to Come

– 3:24 p.m., April 9, 2020

Despite the unprecedented downsizing of the last few weeks, a majority of layoffs are yet to come, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation announced Thursday.

In a three-week survey of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic slowdowns released Thursday, the survey indicated that while there a few local companies still hiring, the worst is still to come. Of 681 respondents, 379 employers plan to eliminate 14,524 jobs, approximately 68% of their total workforce.

The ZIP code with the largest loss of employment, perhaps unsurprisingly, is 92101, which encompasses downtown San Diego. That area is looking at 7,162 lost jobs and an average revenue decline of 60%.

The survey, developed in partnership with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center, the Downtown San Diego Partnership and National City Chamber of Commerce, will remain open for the foreseeable future.

A San Diego Regional EDC statement said the organization wanted to chart how businesses were feeling going forward, even into an eventually economic recovery.

The survey found that small businesses are more likely to embrace remote work, with 85% of those respondents using remote workers being small businesses. Overall, 42% of employers surveyed are having employees work remotely.

Despite the bleak picture, some companies are still hiring. According to the survey, more than 11% of firms are still planning to fill positions. Nearly 19% of those firms still hiring are in the professional service industry.

Information and communication technologies, healthcare, defense and "other," make up another 43% of hiring respondents. – City News Service

Oceanside's Left Coast Donates 3,000 N-95 Masks to City's First Responders

– 3:22 p.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

Oceanside's Left Coast Extracts announced Thursday that the company has donated 3,000 N-95 masks to the city's first responders, including paramedics, firefighters, hospital staff and police officers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment across the nation prompted its donation, along with the number of COVID-19 cases rising in Oceanside.

The city has seen two to three confirmed cases each day since March 28, with 34 cases in the city overall as of Wednesday.

"We wanted to give back to our community by using the resources we have," said Left Coast representative Alex Kometas. "We know that there has been a strain on systems that supply important medical supplies. We had a resource and we saw a way to help."

The masks were acquired with the help of a manufacturer Left Coast works with for the packaging of its products.

Kometas said the company is also planning to make a donation to the city of Los Angeles, where masks were recently mandated for workers in essential businesses. – City News Service

California Will Put Caregivers Into Hotels to Ease Infection Rate

– 1:20 p.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan on Thursday to make thousands of hotel rooms available at a "deep discount" to employees in California hospitals and those working at nursing care facilities, as well as first responders.

The state has contracted with 150 of its "nicest hotels" to open rooms to "our heroes, our caregivers so that they can be there to focus on the needs of our most vulnerable patients," Newsom said.

His announcement came against the backdrop of new data from the California Department of Public Health on Thursday, which showed a significant number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among California health care workers: 1,651 out of 16,957, or roughly 10%.

The new measures will help medical workers and caregivers avoid exposing their families to the virus, and will also help shorten long commutes to work, Newsom said. Eligible caregivers will receive vouchers and stipends toward their hotel room, and low-income workers will not have to pay at all.

Newsom emphasized that the new health care workers lodging program, which is located at Caltravelstore.com, would not compete with resources devoted to Project Roomkey, a recently-announced program to move as many as 15,000 homeless Californians into hotel rooms to fend off COVID-19 transmission. Newsom said on Thursday that Project Roomkey had secured 8,072 hotel rooms for homeless Californians and that close to 2,000 people had moved into them so far.

Newsom did not say how much the health worker hotel program will cost, but he said that FEMA would reimburse the state for a portion of the cost.

Eventually, he said, he hopes to open additional rooms to California grocery workers and logistics workers, such as warehouse and transportation workers. — Julia Scott, KQED

Scripps Health Launches Five-Minute COVID-19 Test

– 10:45 a.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

Scripps Health Thursday announced the launch of the fastest available point-of-care test for detecting the coronavirus at its five hospital campuses in San Diego County.

The test, which will be used to screen for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients requiring quick diagnostic turnaround, can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes, a hospital statement said. The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27.

"Testing is a critical part of the overall response to the coronavirus pandemic," said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health. "Today, Scripps moves that important tool to the front line of our fight against this devastating disease. The ability to deliver results in minutes at our hospitals for patients exhibiting possible symptoms of COVID-19 will allow our physicians to make faster and better decisions about delivering the best care needed."

The assay runs on Abbott's ID NOW infectious-disease-testing platform, a 6.6-pound, toaster-sized portable device that uses molecular technology to deliver reliable and accurate results.

For COVID-19, the platform looks for the novel coronavirus RdRp gene in throat, nasal, nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs taken from patients who might be infected.

The ID NOW system joins several other platforms already in use at Scripps laboratories for in-house testing for COVID-19, as well as outside testing capacity provided through Quest Diagnostics. – City News Service

San Diego County Asian Pacific Islander Orgs Issue Statement Against COVID-19 Hate

– 9:41 a.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

More than 50 Asian Pacific Islander organizations in San Diego County released a joint statement Thursday denouncing xenophobia, racism and acts of violence toward Asian and Pacific Islander communities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The organizations called upon the county community to avoid the use of harmful language relating to COVID-19, including labels such as "China coronavirus," "Chinese coronavirus" and "Wuhan Virus."

"Use of such language has led to an alarming increase in consequences ranging from unintended microagressions to acts of violence and hate towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," the organizations' joint statement says. "We urge elected officials and community leaders to lead by example by publicly condemning and standing against xenophobia and racism."

Asians make up 16.74% of the county's population, according to Word Population Review statistics cited by the groups.

"Let's be very clear: neither race nor ethnicity caused the coronavirus — and the hate we are seeing towards the API community is not only wrong but it's dangerous," Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, said in a statement. "Defeating this disease demands that we come together as a people and show our strength and resilience. There is no room for any hate at any level."

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate said in February that there are 30,000 Asian/Pacific Islander-owned businesses in San Diego County alone and that scares about the respiratory illness have slowed trade.

The organizations urge anyone who has experienced or witnessed an act of hate as a result of COVID-19 to report it at pacarts.org/StopAPIHate. – City News Service

USNS Mercy Crew Member Tests Positive For Coronavirus

– 8:15 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A crew member aboard the USNS Mercy hospital ship has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Navy.

The crew member is currently isolated aboard the ship and will soon transfer off the ship to self-monitor for severe symptoms, Navy Public Affairs Officer Lt. Joseph Pfaff said in an email statement.

“The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board,” he said.

The Mercy was deployed from San Diego to Los Angeles at the end of March to help care for non-COVID-19 patients to relieve some pressure on the local hospital system. L.A. has one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus cases in California.

The sick crew member will not affect the Mercy’s ability to receive patients, Pfaff said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Mayor Faulconer, County Commit $25M For Behavioral Health Services

– 5:48 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A $25 million fund for San Diego area behavioral health providers to bolster their services for those struggling with mental illness or addiction was outlined Wednesday by city and county elected officials.

The Behavioral Health Impact Fund will provide funds to local service providers "to treat, stabilize and house" individuals experiencing mental illness and substance abuse issues, by helping behavioral health organizations acquire properties to expand their service capacity, according to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Faulconer, who was joined at a Wednesday news conference by county Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher, said the fund "was in the works well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and now it will go into effect when the need is greater than it's ever been before."

Faulconer said the fund would address the city and county's efforts to combat homelessness at the same time local governments are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as the homeless are among the "most vulnerable to this virus."

The fund will support service providers' efforts to "buy, expand or renovate a facility to increase their capacity to serve these individuals," according to Faulconer.

Fletcher said motels are one example of properties that could be purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic and converted into facilities for these organizations.

The fund is financed by a settlement of redevelopment litigation and was approved by a unanimous Tuesday vote by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, as well as a San Diego City Council vote in March.

Details on how organizations can apply for funds will be released later. Potential projects must be approved by both a city and a county representative.

"The cost of building these types of facilities can be beyond the means of most nonprofits," Cox said. "Now this fund will play an important and critical role in helping this region cope with and recover from the corona crisis." — City News Service

County Announces Five More Deaths; Urges San Diegans To Gather Virtually For Religious Holidays

– 5:05 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Five more residents have died and an additional 76 have tested positive for the virus in San Diego County. That puts the region’s total deaths at 36 and confirmed cases at 1,530, officials said Wednesday.

County health representatives extended their condolences to the families of the individuals who have died from COVID-19.

They also announced an amendment to the public health order that bans all public gatherings. Previously, the order blocked people from collecting in groups of 10 or more.

Supervisor Greg Cox acknowledged the limitations would be difficult for faith-based communities to celebrate the upcoming holidays of Passover and Easter, but he encouraged them to engage in the virtual services offered by many places of worship.

"Keep the faith, but please keep it online," Cox said.

Passover begins Wednesday evening while Easter is Sunday. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Governor Newsom Asks For $1.4 Billion To Buy Personal Protective Equipment

– 2:05 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Saying, "We need to go boldly. We need to not play small ball,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday he will be asking state legislators to spend up to $1.4 billion to secure a monthly supply of personal protective equipment to protect California healthcare workers and other essential personnel on the COVID-19 front lines.

“California is in a position to leverage the supply chain,” he said, referencing the fact many state and local governments have found themselves in competition with each other and even with the federal government in trying to stockpile and distribute critical materials.

Newsom referred to this sort of competition as a “zero-sum game,” adding he wants to advance a “framework of collaboration and help “increase supply.”

On Tuesday night, Newsom announced that he had secured contracts to import an ongoing supply of 200 million masks per month.

But face masks can also be reused, thanks to technology from Battelle, a Columbus, Ohio-based company, which has received FDA approval to use its method to sterilize N95 face masks at scale. Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, highlighted this crucial innovation and said their machines will soon be used in California.

Newsom declined several opportunities to criticize the Trump Administration’s performance in getting and sharing critical supplies, but he did express exasperation about what he described as “one-off” offers from all sorts of entities. “I got 500,000 masks. I got 2 million masks…” He added, “We were running into walls. We’re in a position to do something bold and big.”

Along those lines, he encouraged suppliers to continue reaching out through the state government's COVID-19 website.

You can watch the Governor's full press conference by clicking below.

— Rachael Myrow, KQED

SDGE Encourages Customers Affected By Coronavirus To Apply For Online Utility Bill Discounts

– 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2020

San Diego Gas & Electric on Wednesday encouraged customers facing financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic to apply online for bill discount programs.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing financial strain for many individuals and families in the region, SDG&E's discounts can save them 30% or more off their monthly utility bills.

The utility offers bill discount programs to support customers year-round. Many people who previously could not take advantage of these income-based programs may now be able to do so due to lost wages, the company said. Those who recently lost their job, even if they are receiving unemployment benefits, may also be eligible for other programs.

California Alternate Rates for Energy provides a 30% or more discount on monthly bills. Qualification is based on participation in certain public assistance programs or household income as of Wednesday. No additional documents are required to apply.

A customer who doesn't qualify for that alternate rates program may qualify for Family Electric Rate Assistance, which provides income-qualified households of three or more with a reduced electric rate (18% discount) on their monthly bill.

In order to raise awareness of those programs, SDG&E launched a marketing and public outreach campaign, which will also promote the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The low-income program is federally funded and helps low-income households with their energy bills. The program is overseen by the California Department of Community Services and Development and administered by nonprofit agencies that have funding available to help residents with up to $1,000 on their energy bills. Additional funding is also expected with the recent passage of the federal economic stimulus package.

In mid-March, in response to the pandemic, SDG&E voluntarily began to suspend service disconnections due to nonpayment. The disconnection moratorium will remain in place until further notice, according to the utility. At the same time, the company is urging customers who are struggling to pay their utility bills to call the customer contact center at (800) 411-7343 to make payment arrangements.

The company is temporarily waiving late payment fees for business customers whose finances have been impacted by the coronavirus. The company does not charge residential customers late payment fees. — City News Service

San Diego Seals, National Lacrosse League Cancel Remainder Of Regular Season

– 10 a.m, Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The National Lacrosse League and its local team, the San Diego Seals, announced Wednesday the remainder of the regular season will be canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

League officials said they were looking at scenarios to return to play when all stakeholders and health officials deem it possible. There was no timeline given on when decisions will be made. The league suspended regular season play on March 12 due to COVID-19.

"With three weekends left in the regular season and the uncertainty about resumption during that time, we decided it is in the best interests of our players, coaches, staff, partners and fans to remove any uncertainty. Our goal is to find the best, and safest, solution for resumption of play, but what that looks like, and when that occurs, cannot be determined today," said League Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz.

"Our primary focus is the long-term health of all involved in the sport of lacrosse from a personal and a business standpoint, and we are consulting with our board, medical and municipal authorities, as well as leadership in other organizations across sports and entertainment, to determine when we will be able to effectively move forward. Whenever that is, we have plans in place that continue to evolve, and we will be ready to restart the process correctly and effectively." – City News Service

San Diego Mayor Faulconer Announces Funding For Homeless Operations At Convention Center

– 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020

As hundreds of unsheltered San Diegans were moving into the San Diego Convention Center Tuesday, the City Council approved a $3.7 million state emergency funding grant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population.

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez collaborated with the council to secure the grant, which will add to approximately $1.6 million in state-backed emergency funds from San Diego County and $1.7 million from the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for the same purpose.

This grows the total additional resources directed to "Operation Shelter to Home" at the San Diego Convention Center to $7.1 million, which has partnered with the city to temporarily repurpose the center as a regional homeless shelter.

"The convention center has undergone a remarkable transformation in just a few days, becoming an extraordinary symbol of San Diego rising to this occasion and using every resource at our disposal to fight COVID-19," Faulconer said.

Before Wednesday morning, more than 800 people experiencing homelessness will have moved into the center, which was empty just 10 days ago. More than 200 individuals from Father Joe's Villages Paul Mirabile Center and scores more from the temporary shelter on the ground floor of Golden Hall began transitioning to the tourist destination Tuesday, freeing up space at the Mirabile shelter on Imperial Avenue.

According to the city's own figures, it would pay $1.2 million per month for the 829 individuals currently in the center, but was shooting for a goal of 1,500 individuals and a monthly bill of $2.8 million, or $1,866 per person per month.

Those with chronic health conditions will be placed at the nearly vacated Father Joe's Paul Mirabile Center where medical support staff can assist them. These moves help centralize services, a statement from Faulconer's office said, and can maximize staffing. With more space than current shelter facilities, the convention center allows for physical distancing between individuals.

Mayor Faulconer addressed the council before the vote to emphasize the convention center is part of a coordinated regional approach to help sheltered and unsheltered individuals remain healthy during the COVID-19 crisis. Faulconer and other public officials announced on March 23 that the center would be repurposed. – City News Service

San Diego County Records 12 New Coronavirus Deaths, Largest Single-Day Increase So Far

– 3 p.m., Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The same day San Diego County officials began reporting estimated numbers of people who have recovered from coronavirus, they also reported the greatest one-day increase in deaths.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced on Tuesday an additional 12 people died from COVID-19, bringing the total to 31.

However, Fletcher also provided new data that estimates 201 people have recovered from the illness.

The county also reported an additional 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the region’s total up to 1,454.

Officials have previously said there may be a lag in the time it takes for the department to be notified of a death or confirm a fatality was due to a specific infectious disease. That delay can mean deaths that may have occurred over several days are publicly reported in one day. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

Newsom Says Curve Appears To Be Flattening in California

– Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The coronavirus curve — a metric public health officials use to monitor the spread and anticipate the peak number of cases — appears to be flattening in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

A very steep upward slope to that curve would indicate a potentially catastrophic spike in cases that would threaten to far outstrip the capacity of the health care system. A flatter curve means cases would be spread out and thus, more manageable.

“That curve continues to rise but just not at the slope that was originally projected,” Newsom said in his daily briefing, citing social and physical distancing as the cause for the reduction in anticipated COVID-19 cases.

The number of confirmed positive cases climbed nearly 11% over Monday’s number to 15,865, Newsom said. Hospitalizations rose 4.1% to 2,611 and ICU cases increased 2.1% to 1,108. Thirty-one more California residents died from the virus, bringing the death toll to 374.

“Our thinking around [a peak in] May, and late May in particular, means it follows this idea of flattening,” said Mark Ghaly, director of the state’s Health and Human Services Agency, “It’s not just the reduction down, it’s moving it out.” — Erin Baldassari, KQED

MiraCosta College Plans to Create Face Shields, Other Equipment for Hospitals

– 11:46 a.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020

MiraCosta College could soon be manufacturing thousands of face masks, hundreds of face shields, and scores of decontamination boxes as part of a statewide effort to ramp up production of personal protective equipment in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it announced today.

Instructors at MiraCosta College's Technology Career Institute in Carlsbad — using the institute's machine and engineering shops and 3D printers — have already developed prototypes and are ordering parts for hospital face shields.

Officials hope to begin manufacturing up to 100 face shields daily by the end of the week, said Linda Kurokawa, MiraCosta's director of community education and workforce development at the college.

Prototypes of decontamination boxes that will use UV lights and sensors to disinfect various medical equipment should be completed by early next week. In addition, students in a sewing and upholstery class are being recruited to stitch up to 1,000 face masks per week using elastic bands and fabric Kurokawa purchased from a local crafts store.

"It's going to take everyone in California to step up and do their part, and that includes us," Kurokawa said. "It feels wonderful to be part of a community that is doing what it can to save lives."

Face masks and face shields will be sent to Rady Children's Hospital for distribution. The decontamination boxes will be sent to hospitals and medical centers throughout the region.

"As soon as we can get our protocols, logistics, and approvals in place, we plan on moving forward," Kurokawa said.

The Technology Career Institute is part of the college's community education and workforce development department and is designed to provide not- for-profit, accelerated job training in advanced manufacturing, engineering, health care, security and more.

The MiraCosta College Maker Lab at the Oceanside campus — part of the college's design department — is equipped with seven 3D printers, and Instructional Associate Chris Boehm last week developed prototypes for a face mask, face shield and a vent splitter — which can essentially allow a single ventilator to be used for two separate patients at the same time.

As soon as he gets the go-ahead, Boehm said he plans on fabricating a number of pieces of personal protective equipment for use at local hospitals and medical centers.

"We certainly wouldn't be able to mass produce anything, but if we could use the maker lab to make even 100 face shields or 250 vent splitters, that would be enough to perhaps save more than a few lives," Boehm said. "I'm just so grateful MiraCosta College has an opportunity to have a positive impact on our community and it really underscores what a community college is all about." – City News Service

Coronavirus Relief Proposals On Next Poway City Council Agenda

– 9:54 a.m., April 7, 2020

The City Council Tuesday will consider two relief efforts, including a moratorium on commercial evictions, to help those affected by the coronavirus.

In an official memorandum, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus proposed that the city suspend commercial evictions until May 31. "It is important to note the federal and state government have issued increased protections for landlords that do not make mortgage payments, suspending foreclosure and eviction proceedings by most financial institutions," the memo read.

If passed, the urgency ordinance will protect commercial tenants from being evicted for nonpayment of rent if they can "demonstrate that they have suffered one or more financial impacts related to COVID-19," according to a document. The proposed ordinance "is not a moratorium on the payment of rent, and tenants who qualify "shall remain responsible for (the) ultimate payment of rent," according to city documents.

Council members on Tuesday will also consider a loan program, titled Poway Emergency Assistance Recovery Loans (PEARL). Vaus, in a second memorandum, proposed creating the program to help small businesses get back on their feet. PEARL would complement existing federal and state programs, and "provide a financial bridge to businesses to survive the current emergency."

In the memo, Vaus requested the council's input and direction on a loan program, including the types of businesses that qualify, loan amounts and terms, and a funding source. Both the San Diego city and county governments recently passed moratoriums on evictions for residents and business owners.

On March 16, the county — in partnership with the San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego and other major regional players — also launched the San Diego COVID-19 Community Fund and asked the public to donate.

The $1.3 million fund focuses on three key areas impacting San Diegans: food insecurity, rental and utility assistance and income replacement - - also known as gap funding.

During its March 25 emergency meeting, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar small business relief fund proposed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

On March 24, the San Marcos City Council approved the COVID-19 Business Sustainability Program that sets aside up to $3 million for short-term business loans.

The Poway City Council will meet via teleconference starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. More information on how to participate in the meeting can be found online. – City News Service

Essential Businesses In SD County Must Post COVID-19 Guidelines Near Entrances

– 7:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Authorities Tuesday will begin citing essential businesses that have not complied with the requirement to post social-distancing and sanitization guidelines near the entrance of their businesses.

All employees of grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants open for to-go orders, fast-food eateries, convenience stores and gas stations must also wear a facial covering at all times as part of a county health order that went into effect at midnight on Saturday.

Although the county is not mandating that residents wear face coverings, essential businesses can deny entry to customers whose faces are not covered, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Monday.

"If an individual business chooses to say that you need to have a face covering to come into their business, that is a determination that those businesses can make," he said. – City News Service

San Diego Mayor Calls On Med Students, Retired Health Care Workers To Register With State For Expected COVID-19 Surge

– 5:25 p.m., Monday, April 6, 2020

Following in the state’s footsteps, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Monday called for health care professionals to come forward to help in the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

He is asking for all medical residents, nursing students, retired health care workers or those who have switched professions to sign up for California’s Health Corps.

“San Diego City is known for its expertise in science and health care and medicine,” he said. Now is the time for San Diego to step up, he said.

Health professionals can sign up at sandiego.gov/coronavirus.

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