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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.

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

COVID-19 in Baja California

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.

WATCH HERE:

The city has also worked with Verizon Wireless to ensure the data-service infrastructure will be able to handle the strain for emergency response, he said. With so many working from home as well as a surge in telehealth calls, it was important to ensure that cellular service remains reliable for emergency calls, he said.

On the issue of homelessness, the mayor said because of the coronavirus, the city had to change its approach.

"There is not enough room, staff under the current model,” he said. That’s why the Convention Center was needed. Around 180 veterans have been moved to the Convention Center and in the coming days, around 200 people from Father Joe’s Villages will be moved there as well.

The city is also looking to increase the capacity at the Convention Center to bring in unsheltered individuals there. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

San Diego Lab Will Begin Testing Its Coronavirus Vaccine In Humans

– 5:10 p.m, Monday, April 6, 2020

A coronavirus vaccine developed in San Diego will undergo human testing this week, the company announced online.

A news release from Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a Pennsylvania-based company with a local Sorrento Valley lab, said it planned to inject the first of up to 40 volunteers on Monday. Doses will be administered to volunteers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Center for Pharmaceutical Research in Kansas City, Mo., where volunteers are still being selected.

Volunteers will receive two doses with the second injection four weeks after the first. The company expects results by late summer.

The biotech firm’s earlier animal testing showed “promising immune response,” the announcement said.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals began developing its DNA vaccine, known as INO-4800, in January. It initially intended to begin human trials by summer but upped that deadline to this month. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

MTS Announces Reduced Bus, Trolley Service In Wake of COVID-19 Rider Declines

– 3:45 p.m, Monday, April 6, 2020

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System announced Monday it will be reducing bus and trolley service effective next week in the wake of COVID-19 related ridership declines. The agency will not cut any service routes, but rather some routes will see a reduction in service.

Effective April 13, about 70% of bus routes will be operating at reduced frequencies, according to MTS officials. Trolley lines will operate at nearly normal schedules, though the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley will revert to mid-January service levels.

The reductions will account for a 25% reduction in weekday service overall.

More than three dozen bus routes will be unaffected by the new schedules, which will be posted online at www.sdmts.com and at all MTS bus and trolley stations later this week.

Route proximity to grocery stores, hospitals and other essential areas were taken into account when determining which routes to maintain and which to reduce service to, according to MTS officials. — City News Service

San Diego County Records 78 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

– 3:30 p.m., Monday April 6, 2020

San Diego County officials on Monday announced 78 new COVID cases, increasing the region’s total to 1,404, but no new deaths.

Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the county’s epidemiology and immunization services branch, said the public should not read too much into the lower numbers, specifically fatalities.

"The fact that that number has not gone up in a couple of days should not indicate anything particular,” McDonald said.

He said there may have been additional reports of deaths but the department waits on laboratory reports to confirm, which can cause delays.

Officials also clarified details regarding the county's public health order that mandates essential workers wear face coverings. A reporter asked whether businesses or employees were responsible for providing the gear.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said employers can either provide it or allow employees to wear their own, but they must make sure all adhere to the county’s public health order.

"It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure compliance with that order," he said.

Meanwhile, the public is strongly recommended to wear coverings but not required. Still, Fletcher said businesses can turn people away for not concealing their faces. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Gov: New 'Antibody' Tests a Critical Step, Min. Wage Hike Is Wait-And-See

– 1:46 p.m., Monday, April 6, 2020

Work on a new coronavirus antibody test from Stanford University is “fundamental” and “foundational” to getting Californians back to work, Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday.

Standing inside the Sleep Train Arena, the former home of the Sacramento Kings basketball team that will double as a temporary medical facility, Newsom laid out plans to distribute 500 ventilators to the national stockpile to assist other states, even as California seeks to procure more, and hinted that an expected minimum-wage increase in January could be on hold.

Researchers at Stanford are working on the state’s first “homegrown serum” or serology test that will determine whether people have immunity to COVID-19, Newsom said.

“This is a deep area of focused concentration,” he said, adding that it will be critical to test people who are asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus, in order to better understand the disease.

Over the weekend, Newsom announced that the test was expected to be FDA-approved and rolled out this week. On Monday, he said he didn’t know whether approval had come yet.

“I believe it’s on track,” he said.

Testing is necessary to get people back into the workforce, Newsom said, and his team is already working on an economic recovery plan. Asked whether an increase in the minimum wage would happen as planned, Newsom said, “That’s January, and we’ll make a determination in real time.”

The state is sending 500 ventilators to the national stockpile because it had substantially more ventilators in its inventory than it expected at the time, though Newsom said the state would continue to procure and refurbish more. California has more than 11,00 ventilators on hand.

“We have a moral and ethical responsibility of sending them to those most in need,” he said.

The state has secured 4,613 hospital beds from added capacity at its existing hospitals or in new locations, such as reopening shuttered hospitals, leasing hotel rooms, federally supported medical stations, the opening of the USS Mercy hospital ship, which is docked in Southern California, and alternative sites like the Kings’ former arena, Newsom said. It has another 5,005 beds that have been identified and are in lease negotiations.

The beds will be needed to handle the expected peak of coronavirus cases in mid-May. Nearly 82,000 healthcare professionals have applied to staff those sites through the state’s new Health Corps website, Newsom said.

As of Monday morning, there were 14,336 positive COVID-19 cases reported in California, 1,185 people in the ICU, 2,509 hospitalizations, and 343 people who have died from the virus. — Erin Baldassari, KQED

San Diego Police Ticket 16 People Over Weekend For Visiting Parks And Beaches

– 12:26 p.m., April 6, 2020

San Diego police over the weekend wrote 16 citations to people who were still showing up to closed parks and beaches. On March 23, the city closed all of its parks and beaches as part of the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

During the weekend, police ticketed five people in Balboa Park and 11 in Ocean Beach, said San Diego police spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi. The Ocean Beach citations were written along Sunset Cliffs, the Ocean Beach Dog Park and Robb Field Skate Park.

Police officers are educating people first before writing citations, but if it's clear someone knew they were breaking the rules, a citation can be written, Takeuchi said. He said he didn't know what people were specifically doing when they were ticketed.

The citations are misdemeanors punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in prison, Takeuchi said. Each citation includes a court date. Between now and that date, the San Diego City Attorney will decide whether to pursue or drop the charges. – Claire Trageser, KPBS Investigative Reporter

Governor Newsom To Provide Update On State’s Emergency Actions To Create Alternate Care Facilities In Response to COVID-19

– 12 p.m., Monday, April 6, 2020

Newsom is expected to give an update on the state's efforts to create alternative care facilities and secure thousands of beds to prepare for the COVID-19 surge.

WATCH LIVE:

California Court Leaders Consider Cutting Bail To $0

– 7:19 p.m., April 5, 2020

California judicial leaders are expected to adopt a statewide emergency order setting bail at zero for lower-level offenses and suspending evictions and foreclosures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis that has crippled the state's court system.

The Judicial Council was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to vote on nearly a dozen temporary rules, including a proposal to hold criminal and juvenile proceedings by video or telephone in order to ensure that defendants are not held in custody without timely hearings.

RELATED: Judges Deny California Inmate Release Request, Cite US Law

In criminal proceedings, the defendant must agree before a court hearing can be held remotely.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, trial courts must protect defendants' constitutional rights to have the assistance of counsel and to be personally present with counsel, and at the same time take steps to protect the health of defendants, judicial officers, court staff, counsel, and all those who are required to be present in court," a report prepared for the meeting said.

The report said courts have been operating with a greatly reduced work force since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order on March 20 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The proposal to lower bail at $0 for misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses is intended to reduce the jail population and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

– Associated Press

California Labor Secretary Goes Facebook-Live with Unemployment Insurance Update

– 6:15 p.m., April 5, 2020

California Labor Secretary Julie Su on Sunday delivered an update on unemployment insurance and worker safety guidelines in the age of COVID-19.

Unemployment insurance processing normally takes about three weeks, Su said, meaning that workers who file for unemployment should expect to wait three weeks to receive funds. So far, the California Employment Development Department has been sticking fairly closely to that timeline, she said. The department is trying to expedite payment processing by waiving certain looking-for-work requirements and redirecting staff to process unemployment insurance applications.

Record numbers of unemployment claims — 6.6 million in the most recent week reported — have sent servers crashing in states across the U.S. Reports that the California's unemployment claims website has crashed are not true, Su said, though she noted the site occasionally goes down for routine maintenance.

“I know it can be frustrating, and we are working very hard,” she said.

Su also clarified that people who believe they've been misclassified as independent contractors — rather than employees — can, and should, file for unemployment insurance. If the department determines an individual was misclassified as a contractor, that individual will receive unemployment insurance, she promised.

For true independent contractors and self-employed Californians, a separate benefit, called "pandemic unemployment assistance," may soon become available, Su said. The department is “working to implement this program,” but still awaiting funds from the federal government for this benefit.

Su delivered an update on the federal stimulus, which she said will provide an additional $600 a week for up to four weeks (Su may have misspoken here; the benefits are federally guaranteed for four months) in unemployment benefits to Californians. Those funds are not yet available, she said, but they will be added to existing state benefit payments. Californians don’t have to “do anything else” to receive those funds.

She also announced the state had begun issuing, or would soon issue, health and safety guidelines for various essential industries, including agricultural workers, grocery workers and skilled nursing facilities. She encouraged workers and others to report businesses not in compliance with health and safety guidelines to Cal/OSHA.

For more details on filing for unemployment and how the process is evolving, visit labor.ca.gov or watch Su’s video update here.

– Susie Neilson (@SusieNeilson), KQED

San Diego County Health Officials Report 117 New Coronavirus Case, 1 Death

– 3:45 p.m., April 5, 2020

County officials on Sunday reported 117 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death.

The increase brings the total of confirmed cases in San Diego County to 1,326 and the death toll to 19, said County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten during an afternoon news conference.

The death reported Sunday was that of a woman in her late 90s.

Wooten added that officials discovered another outbreak in the county, in a congregate care facility, though she did not provide further details. Thus far, officials have identified 17 outbreaks in the county, she said.

Also during Sunday’s news conference, county officials said they would begin enforcing the order for essential workers, such as grocery store and convenience store workers, to wear facial coverings.

“The warnings are over,” said San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox. “We will enforce the order.”

Cox encouraged people who see essential workers violating the facial covering order to report the violators to 2-1-1 San Diego, the county’s emergency services information line.

On another subject, county officials encouraged those experiencing anxiety and depression in light of the coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of county mental health programs and seek out support from family and friends. – Laura McVicker, KPBS Social Media Strategist

– 2:30 p.m., April 5, 2020

Watch press conference here:

Camp Pendleton Issues Shelter In Place Guidelines

- 1:45 p.m., Sunday, April 5, 2020

Marines at Camp Pendleton have been ordered to follow California's "shelter in place" guidelines and face severe penalties if they don't, according to the military base's commanding general.

Brigadier General Daniel Conley on Saturday issued the instructions to Marine Corps Installations West, which includes Camp Pendleton.

"As of March 19, the state of California instituted a `shelter in place' order," Conley wrote. "The order directs all individuals to remain at home or place of residence, except as needed in limited circumstances."

The commander's order said all personnel will curtail their off-duty activities to abide by the California orders.

"Travel while on leave or liberty is only authorized to conduct essential services such as medical needs, groceries, banking, exercise and gas stations," the order said. "While in a leave or liberty status, and while traveling to conduct essential services, all MCIWEST

personnel shall limit travel to within a 30-mile radius of their residence."

Marines are ordered to have a "heightened awareness regarding the spread of this infectious disease."

"Marines and sailors are not authorized to attend social gatherings outside their home, and social contact at private residences will be limited to household members only," the order states.

Violations of the order are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the commander said, and personnel may be subject to "appropriate administrative or judicial action."

Conley is the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West and the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton.

While more than 38,000 military family members occupy base housing complexes, Camp Pendleton expands to a daytime population of 70,000 military and civilian personnel. - City News Service

250-Bed Field Hospital Planned For Palomar Medical Center

– 10:45 a.m., Sunday, April 5, 2020

A 250-bed federal field hospital is planned for Palomar Medical Center, San Diego County health officials announced Sunday.

The "hospital within a hospital" will be installed on the 10th and 11th floors of the Escondido facility as a fully functioning hospital and will add to the capacity of beds needed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

"The facility will be used for those in our community who need it the most," Dr. Nick Yphantides, San Diego County's chief medical officer, said during the announcement outside Palomar Medical Center. "It will be a community-wide resource."

The bed capacity in the region will need to grow in the coming weeks, Yphantides said, '"as a storm begins to reach our region."

The decision about whether the federal medical station will serve COVID-19 patients or other kinds of patients will be made at a later time, depending on "which patients will need it the most," the medical officer said.

Doctors and nurses at Palomar Medical Center will staff the new medical station, officials said.

Officials said it was too early to predict the cost of staffing and supplying equipment to the medical station.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher called the added bed capacity "a positive step forward for our region." – City News Service

Gov. Newsom Launches Website To Collect Essential Medical Supplies

– 10:30 a.m., Sunday, April 5

In an effort to get more medical supplies into the hands of hospital workers statewide amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Newsom has launched a website for people to donate and sell the supplies.

The website, covid19supplies.ca.gov, will allow residents and organizations to donate, sell or trade critical items, such as ventilators, N95 masks and testing materials.

Nationwide, hospitals have struggled with medical equipment shortages as they respond to the surge of patients with COVID-19. California is the latest state to directly ask the public for help.

Beyond the equipment shortages, California is woefully lacking in testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Newsom acknowledged this during a news conference on Saturday, saying “I own that.”

He announced the launch of a COVID-19 Testing Task Force, consisting of medical workers and testing facilities throughout the state, to boost the number of tests distributed statewide.

The task force includes a collaboration with UC San Diego and UC Davis to establish testing hubs.

-- Laura McVicker, KPBS Social Media Strategist

District Attorney Warns Of Identity Thieves And Other Scammers Amid Pandemic

– 4:30 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan on Saturday asked residents to be wary of scammers trying to take advantage of the fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. She also expects a spike in identity theft with the federal government’s relief checks coming.

“We see more charity scams, we see fake cures for the coronavirus being exploited,” Stephan said during an afternoon news conference. She added that county officials are “very, very concerned” that people will be scammed out of their checks, which are part of the $2-trillion relief package passed by Congress last month.

Here are some of her specific prevention tips:

  • Don’t email back any charities before checking the attorney general's charity list. Go to the charity's website rather than clicking links in an email to prevent phishing scams.
  • "Don't believe anyone that tells you they have a cure," said Stephan. Check with your medical professionals and listen to the officials at the county.
  • The IRS will not be calling you or asking for your personal information prior to sending the economic impact payment.

Stephan said another concern with the stay at home order in place is an increase in domestic violence. "It's a reality that home is not safe for everyone." She encouraged individuals to check the resource page at sdcda.org to find lists of available shelters, food, diapers and more.

Stephan also noted that county officials have taken seriously more than 240 tips and reports of price gouging, including masks, milk, water, eggs and toilet paper.

In addition to her warnings, Stephan emphasized that the work of county courts is continuing and 1,000 public employees are still at work protecting the community.

County courts will begin virtual, remote hearings next week. "We're also working on some important initiatives to ensure that there is room in jail for violent predators that should not be released, while allowing proper social distancing and the ability to quarantine," Stephan said. —Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

Saturday Brings 97 New COVID-19 Cases And One Death To San Diego County

– 4:15 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020

County officials on Saturday announced 97 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death in the region.

Photo caption:

Graphic image shows bar chart of COVID-19 cases by date reported from March 7-April 3, 2020.

The total case count is now at 1,209 in San Diego County and the death toll has reached 18. County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the latest person to die was a male in his early 70s.

Photo caption:

Graphic image shows line graph of COVID-19 positive cases, hospitalizations, ICU patients and number of deaths from March 11-April 3, 2020.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said more than 1,000 new tests were reported and that the county has seen a significant increase in the available personal protective equipment (PPE) -- there are 1.5 million units. Also, there are currently 2,026 hotel rooms are available, Fletcher said.

Watch here:

Fletcher also made it a point to say that while elective medical procedures have been postponed, hospitals are still open to people suffering from serious health conditions or a non-coronavirus medical emergency.

Fletcher also announced the launch of a social media campaign that gives residents the opportunity to pledge their "social distancing" commitment publicly. People can go to coronavirus-sd.com to take the #StayHomeSD pledge. —Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

You Can Still Go For A Run In A County Park, But You Can’t Do Yoga Or Sit Under A Tree

– 2 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020

Recreation options continue to dwindle for San Diego County residents amid efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, the county issued an order that closed all parking lots at county parks as well as all ball fields and sports courts. However, county parks and preserves will remain open to foot, bike and horse traffic.

But even those who go to the parks on foot, bike or horse must abide by certain restrictions. “You may walk, run or ride a bike or horse along trails … but keep moving,” the county’s new order states.

However, you can’t play sports like basketball, soccer, tennis or roller hockey. And you can’t engage in stationary activities that keep you in a single area like fishing, yoga, picnicking and reading under a tree, the order states.

Similarly, state parks closed campgrounds and are not allowing vehicular traffic, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation website. But, for the most part, the state is still allowing people to hike in its parks.

On Friday, several state beaches closed for the foreseeable future, including Torrey Pines and Silver Strand State Beaches.

Also, as of midnight Saturday morning, Oceanside and Coronado were among the last cities in the county to close their beaches. The City of San Diego closed its parks and beaches almost two weeks ago, and Del Mar, Imperial Beach, Carlsbad, Encinitas and others followed shortly thereafter. —David Washburn, KPBS Investigative News Editor

Newsom Announces Plan To Significantly Expand COVID-19 Testing In California

– 1 p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2020

Recognizing that testing for COVID-19 has been lacking in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday announced a new state initiative that he hopes will increase the number of tests by five times the current level.

“I own that. You deserve better and more,” Newsom said during an afternoon news conference.

Newsom has formed a task force on testing to better coordinate, collaborate and organize around the issue of testing. The efforts include a collaboration with UC San Diego and UC Davis to create a minimum of five to seven hubs to produce serology tests that can provide results in as soon as five minutes.

The serology test is different from the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or swab test, where the results take as long as 12 days to come back.. The test was developed by Stanford Medicine and will be receiving FDA emergency approval for use “within hours,” Newsome said.

Watch here:

The state has reduced its backlog tests from 59,500 to 13,000 and with the task force, the governor hopes that exponentially more Californians will be tested in the coming weeks.

“I want to see hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tests,” he said. “I want to see everybody tested that needs to be tested.”

Another key part of the task force’s mission is to get medical supplies to where they are needed the most.

“We are managing to gather the data we need to understand what supplies are available,” said Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich, who is the task force co-chairman. “Being able to know what the scarce supplies are, and make sure to distribute them to the hubs where they are scarce.”

On that front, Newsom announced a new website, covid19supplies.ca.gov, where Californians and businesses can donate needed medical supplies.

It allows individuals and businesses to let the state know what supplies they’re offering and also what the state needs and is looking for, he said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Sheriff Deputies Ticket 22 Beach Goers In Encinitas For Violating Stay At Home Order

– 10 a.m., Friday, April 4, 2020

San Diego County Sheriff deputies Friday evening ticketed 22 people who were on the beach in Encinitas for violating the state's stay at home order, the department announced Saturday morning.

Those ticketed "were watching the sunset, having picnics near the beach,'' according to a department news release.

"Everyone is required to stay home, except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or go to an essential job,'' the department tweeted on Saturday. "Complacency is the enemy. Take social distancing more seriously to stop coronavirus.''

The violations carry fines of up to $1,000 or six months in jail or both.

"You can easily transmit coronavirus (without) knowing it, creating a snowball effect,'' another tweet from the department said. "By staying home, you can save lives. The public health orders were not created to follow when convenient.'' — City News Service

San Diego Unified School District Prepares For Distance Learning on Monday

– 7:25 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2020

The San Diego Unified School District announced Friday it has set a "soft launch" for distance learning, which will begin Monday and run through April 24.

The district received the final support necessary after reaching a tentative agreement with the San Diego Education Association. The district now has the full backing of stakeholders to provide all students with the opportunity to finish the school year they started months ago while providing teachers with the professional resources they need, according to Superintendent Cindy Marten.

"This emergency may change the way we operate, but it will not change who we are as educators or who we are as a district," Marten said.

"Our commitment from the beginning of the current health crisis was to find a way to keep students safe, while still providing them the opportunity to continue their education," she said. "We made the decision to close schools to protect students -- before the state required us to do so, and from that moment forward, thousands of dedicated professionals in the district have been working nonstop to come up with a plan to connect students with their teachers."

San Diego Unified is the state's largest district to announce a plan to return formal grading and instruction. Those changes will take effect following the soft launch period. Districts around the state are still working to transition to online and graded instruction.

"This agreement reflects our shared commitment to continue serving students under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable," said SDEA President Kisha Borden.

Starting Monday, computers and/or internet access will be provided to all district students who need them, and teachers will begin communicating with students online. For the three-week period, students will be given credit for work that is done, although material will not be graded. On April 27, graded instruction will resume for traditional schools, and May 11 for year-round schools, for the remainder of the academic year.

For students in TK-12 who need a computer, Chromebooks will be available for check-out, depending on where students attend school, at the following high schools: Clairemont, Crawford, Hoover, Lincoln, Morse, San Diego High and Scripps Ranch. Families will receive information this weekend on when and where to pick up their Chromebooks.

Families who need internet connectivity within the Cox service area should sign up for the Connect2Compete program, which offers free Cox installation and internet services for the next 60 days. — City News Service

Mayor Faulconer Encourages San Diegans To Take Care Of Mental, Physical Health During Pandemic

– 5:30 p.m., April 3, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday urged San Diegans to take steps to take care of their mental and physical health during the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus caused an abrupt change to American lives. In one month, the U.S. went from a strong economy to record-high unemployment, and that has taken a toll on San Diegans’ mental health, the mayor said.

Faulconer said residents should seek out help when they need it, such as talking to their therapist and utilizing resources such as the National Alliance for Mental Health.

And since many are stuck at home, keeping physically fit is also important. The San Diego YMCA has a few online resources on its website for people to keep fit at home.

Meanwhile, the city has ordered 10,000 facial coverings and the order will be distributed to city workers starting next week, Faulconer said.

The mayor also addressed cross-border life, saying the west pedestrian crossing is now closed and people should be using the east facility instead.

Lastly, a lifeguard who contracted COVID-19 has recovered and been medically cleared to return to work. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Number of Local COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1,000 Milestone

– 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020

Photo caption:

Photo credit: County of San Diego

A chart, released April 3, 2020, showing the number of people tested for COVID-19 and the number of positive cases in San Diego.

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County increased by 146 Friday, the largest local increase since the epidemic began and enough to have the county cross the 1,000-case milestone.

There have been 1,112 positive cases confirmed in the county, and an additional death reported Friday of a man in his late 70s, brings the total death count to 17.

Of those positive cases, 211 have been hospitalized and 85 placed in intensive care.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher asked for patience with clarifications on public health orders, stating rapidly changing information sometimes meant messages became muddled.

"We are adapting to new information," he said. "And we must adapt to the newest opportunities to protect each other."

Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said the county had 13 confirmed outbreaks in congregate living centers, which had placed positive individuals in isolation.

All San Diego stores still open and serving the public scrambled Friday to comply with San Diego County's amended public health orders — requiring all employees who work in essential business and interact with the public to wear facial covering — which go into effect at midnight tonight.

These industries include pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations.

Fletcher clarified the public health order to include restaurants after a plea Thursday from Jeff Rossman, president of the San Diego County chapter of the California Restaurant Association. – City News Service

Oceanside To Close Beaches At Midnight, Leaving Just Coronado Open

– 3:00 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020

The city of Oceanside announced Friday it was closing all public beaches effective midnight Friday evening.

This includes all water-based activities, including surfing. The Strand will also be closed for walking and driving except to residents living there in order to access their property. Oceanside beach parking lots are already closed.

Oceanside will join most of the county in shutting down its beaches, with most beaches in San Diego Count closing last week in an attempt to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of the coronavirus. Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego and Solana Beach closed their beaches, trails and parks March 23, while Imperial Beach and the Port of San Diego announced similar closures March 24.

San Diego County health officials amended public health orders Thursday, shutting down park and beach parking lots, effective Friday at midnight.

Coronado's beaches remain open despite calls for their closure from Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Union-Tribune op-ed columnists.

"Closing our beaches is not enjoyable, but that isn't the point. The point is to protect public health and combat #COVID19," Atkins said in a statement on Twitter. "I strongly support the @sdutIdeas appeal for a full closure of beaches and implore Coronado to do so. This is a temporary sacrifice that will save lives." — City News Service

San Diego County Health Officials Give Update On COVID-19

– 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020

Watch the news conference below:

Sailors Give Send-off To Navy Captain Fired Over Letter On COVID-19 Outbreak

– 2:10 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2020

Photo caption:

Photo by U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of his command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday after he complained in a letter about the Navy's response to a shipboard outbreak of the coronavirus.

A large crowd of service members gave a warm send-off to the former captain of a San Diego-based aircraft carrier, whose widely-publicized letter asking for help from Navy leadership regarding a COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship resulted in his firing.

Video footage posted on social media showed a raucous crowd of sailors chanting Capt. Brett Crozier's name as he departed the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is currently docked in Guam, where the Navy is working to move around 3,000 of its sailors off the carrier. More than 100 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.

Crozier was relieved of duty on Thursday, after his letter requesting immediate action from the Navy was also copied to "20 or 30 other people," which may have been conducive to its eventual leak to the media, according to Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.

In a Thursday Pentagon news conference announcing Crozier's firing, Modly said he had no information to suggest Crozier directly leaked the letter, which first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday. However, he did note that the letter was first publicized in Crozier's "hometown paper." Crozier is a Santa Rosa native.

Though Modly credited Crozier for voicing his concerns, he said the letter misrepresented the state of the situation onboard, incited panic, and created the perception that the Navy was only responding to assist the sailors because of his letter.

In the videos, Crozier is seen walking down the ship's gangway amid an eruption of cheers, applause, and chants of "Captain Crozier!" then turning and saluting the crew.

One man who recorded footage is heard saying, "That's how you send off one of the greatest captains you ever had," calling Crozier, "the GOAT" or greatest of all time, and "the man for the people."

Crozier's letter stated the COVID-19 infection aboard his ship would spiral if immediate action was not taken. Modly said similar concerns were also expressed by the ship's medical team.

In his letter, Crozier said the crew had undertaken some measures to slow the virus' spread, including moving a small percentage of the crew off- ship, increasing cleaning of the ship and attempting social distancing wherever possible.

However, he warned, "The current strategy will only slow the spread. The current plan in execution on TR will not achieve virus eradication on any timeline."

Modly said the Navy responded to the outbreak by immediately working to move most of the sailors off the ship, yet Crozier's letter made it appear otherwise. The secretary said Crozier "raised alarm bells unnecessarily" and "demonstrated extremely poor judgment in the middle of a crisis."

Though he called Crozier "an honorable man," he said relieving him of command was in the "best interests" of the Navy, which he said required more focused leadership in the face of various threats, including COVID-19.

"I did not come to this decision lightly. I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interests of the safety and wellbeing of his crew. Unfortunately, it did the opposite," Modly said.

To the USS Theodore Roosevelt's crew, Modly said: "I am entirely convinced that your commanding officer loves you and that he had you at the center of his heart and mind in every decision that he has made. I also know that you have great affection and love for him, as well. But it is my responsibility to ensure that his love and responsibility for you is matched, if not exceeded by, his sober and professional judgment under pressure." — City News Service

California Secures Roughly 7,000 Hotel Rooms To House Homeless During COVID-19 Pandemic

– 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced an initiative to secure hotel and motel rooms to house the homeless population to protect them and the public from the coronavirus.

The initiative, named Project Roomkey, is a first-in-the-nation partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will provide a model for other states, Newsom said.

To date the state has secured 6,867 motel and hotel rooms to house individuals experiencing homelessness, he said.

FEMA will provide 75% reimbursement to the state provided that the rooms are used to house individuals that have been exposed to COVID-19 or are part of the vulnerable population.

The goal of the project is to relieve the stress to the state’s health care system and move people out of congregate settings, such as the bridge shelters, Newsom said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Chula Vista Urging Residents To Continue To Follow Shelter-In-Place Order

– 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 3, 2020

Chula Vista officials on Friday were urging residents to continue to stay home during the pandemic.

“Stay healthy by staying at home,” Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said. The department will now move from an education phase to an enforcement phase, she said.

People and businesses who are not following social distancing and stay-at-home orders could be cited for up to $1,000 fine, six months in jail or both.

“Our goal is not to go and cite people,” Kennedy said. “We’ll be warning people on the first attempt, and then we’ll be citing.”

She reminded residents that they should not congregate in groups of 10 or more, practicing social distancing by staying at least six feet away from another person and if people need to go out for essential business, to cover their faces with masks, bandanas or other types of covering. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla Announces Recovery From COVID-19

– 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 3, 2020

Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Padilla announced Friday he has recovered from COVID-19 and will return home soon to finish recuperation.

On March 14, Padilla, also the California Coastal Commission chairman, became the first local elected official to contract the illness. Five days later, he was admitted to UC San Diego Thornton Hospital's intensive care unit.

He released a statement Friday expressing gratitude.

"Friends — I'm off the ventilator, out of the ICU, and will be home soon. After an intense 3-week battle with coronavirus, the relief and gratitude I'm feeling right now are overwhelming," he said. "I'm so grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff at UCSD Medical Center who saved my life, and who are working tirelessly every day to save more. America's healthcare professionals are true heroes showing undaunted courage on the frontlines of this fight."

"Take it from me: the threat of coronavirus is as serious as it is real. We all need to stay home, and follow County Public Health guidelines to stop the spread and save lives that are at risk. Thank you all for your support during this ordeal — it made a real difference. I'm looking forward to getting back home and back to work very soon! Together, we will get through this." — City News Service

Public Workers Scramble To Comply With County Order To Wear Face Covers

– 8:27 a.m., April 3, 2020

All San Diego stores still open and serving the public will scramble today to comply with San Diego County's amended public health orders — requiring all employees who work in essential business and interact with the public to wear facial covering — which go into effect at midnight tonight.

These industries include pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations.

The California Grocers Associated sought guidance from County officials yesterday on how grocery stores are suppose to acquire face masks for their employees

"with such short notice," The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday.

"The safety of our employees and customers is always our first priority, and even more so during this health crisis," Ron Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association, said in a statement Thursday. "With such short notice given by San Diego County, grocery companies will be scrambling to be in compliance by Saturday's deadline. We look forward to hearing from the County quickly on how it will support grocers securing appropriate face coverings for all its workers by April 4."

Carlsbad To Ban Parking Along Six Miles of Coastline

– 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020

After efforts to keep people from gathering at the beach proved insufficient, the city of Carlsbad announced Thursday it will prohibit parking along nearly six miles of state-owned coastline starting Friday.

Carlsbad closed the northernmost beach controlled by the city on March 23 and has made formal requests that the state follows suit with beaches under its jurisdiction. To date, the state has closed beach parking lots, but not the beach. Most other beaches in the county are closed, resulting in a huge influx of people from miles around to the beaches in Carlsbad.

"We are in the middle of a serious public health emergency, and the city of Carlsbad is going to do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick.

Over the past two weeks, the city's police department has put up signs, handed out hundreds of informational fliers, and had officers at the beach encouraging compliance with the health orders. In spite of these efforts, the city continues to observe and document instances of people gathering and not maintaining six feet of distance from each other.

County public health officials said Wednesday that the county is still in the early days of the outbreak, and April will be a critical month for following all health directives. Otherwise, officials warn that COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization and ventilators will outpace local healthcare capacity, leading to significantly more deaths from the new virus.

The no-parking rule will start Friday at 5 a.m. The area affected includes the east and west sides of Carlsbad Boulevard from Pine to La Costa avenues, Ponto Drive and Ponto Road. City crews will put up signs and barricades in the affected areas.

The Carlsbad Police Department will enforce the new rule with citations that carry fines starting at $50. — City News Service

Mayor Kevin Faulconer Urges Local Industries To Pivot To Making Needed Supplies To Battle COVID-19

— 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulcon on Thursday called on local businesses to pivot to making critical supplies to help during this pandemic.

“It is more important than ever that we are using every resource available to keep San Diego safe,” he said. “So, today I’m calling on our San Diego manufacturing industry to help continue the fight that they are doing to help shift their operations to support the battle against COVID-19.”

He was joined by representatives from Biocom, San Diego Workforce Partnerships and the San Diego Distillers Guild.

Some businesses have already made this transition, such as Seven Caves Spirits, which has transitioned to making hand sanitizers. Faulconer was encouraging other industries to follow suit in making everything from face masks to ventilators.

For the thousands of San Diegans that are out of work because of the pandemic, Peter Callstrom, president and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, said his agency is there to help them find jobs and navigate the unemployment claim filing process.

Imperial County Reports First Coronavirus-Related Death

— 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2

An elderly adult with underlying health conditions is the first person to die in Imperial County from complications of COVID-19, officials announced Thursday.

The patient had recently been diagnosed and was being treated at a San Diego hospital, the county Public Health Department said in a news release. The patient had “minimal local community exposure” and spent time at residences in the county and in Mexicali, the release said.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to the individual’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Dr. Stephen Munday, the county’s health officer, said in a statement. “Any loss of life is tragic, but this is particularly sobering.”

Imperial County is one of the poorest in the state and has one of the highest rates for people with asthma. Its two hospitals have fewer than 300 beds.

County health officials told inewsource last month that they’re prepared to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The county said in its new release that residents “should assume that they have been exposed to the virus and continue to take the necessary precautions.”

As of Wednesday, Imperial County had reported 43 positive cases, six of whom have recovered and are no longer in isolation. Another nine people are waiting for test results and 219 have tested negative. — Jennifer Bowman, inewsource investigative reporter

County Orders Face Covering For Some Essential Workers As COVID-19 Cases Rise To 966

– 4:13 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020

San Diego County officials Thursday announced some essential employees must wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus. That directive comes as deaths from the illness increased by one to 16 and total positive cases grew to 966.

The coverings should not be masks used by health care workers, rather bandanas or scarves. The requirement applies to employees at pharmacies, supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations.

Sheriff Bill Gore said authorities will more aggressively enforce all of the county’s public health orders.

“The days of trying to get voluntary compliance … are really over. So the message is going to go out to all of public safety here in the county that we will start issuing citations,” Gore said.

Violators face up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. People can report entities that are flouting orders to 211.

Officials also recommended that San Diegans wear face coverings when in public. Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the county’s epidemiology and immunizations services branch, said he personally endorsed the idea.

"When you leave your place, cover your face," McDonald said.

Businesses must also have plans in place to ensure social distancing and proper hygiene, which must be posted near the entrance. The county will provide suggested language on its website. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

Rancho Bernardo Postal Service Worker Tests Positive For COVID-19

– 1:15 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Rancho Bernardo postal service worker tested positive for the coronavirus, the United States Postal Service announced Thursday.

The unidentified employee works at the Rancho Bernardo Post Office Annex at 16960, Bernardo Center Drive, according to the Postal Service.

The agency has reached out to the county public health office for guidance but has taken preemptive steps to disinfect the facility.

“We believe the risk is low for employees who work at the Rancho Bernardo Post Office, but we will keep our employees apprised as new information and guidance becomes available,” the Postal Service said in an email statement to KPBS.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization do not believe the novel coronavirus can spread through the mail.

The USPS did not release any other information about the employee or their current condition because of federal privacy laws. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Newsom Suspends California Sales Tax For 12 Months To Assist Small Businesses

– 12 p.m., Thursday, April 2, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the state would be issuing a 12-month sales tax reprieve for small businesses.

More than 1.9 million people have filed for unemployment since March 12, Newsom said, and in response, the state is rolling out a series of initiatives to help.

"The economic consequences are profound," he said.

The state is going to issue a 12-month sales tax reprieve for small businesses, he said. Small businesses won't need to pay the state sales tax receipts for one year and there will be no fines or penalties.

In addition, Newsom said small businesses can take upwards of $50,000 as a bridge loan from their sales taxes with no interest and no fees.

Newsom stressed the importance for California businesses to take advantage of two federal assistance programs coming from the federal stimulus packages.

"We need to be able to get the federal dollars into the state of California," Newsom said.

The first federal program allows any business to apply for and receive an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

The second federal program Newsom pointed to is the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The program offers up to $10 million in loans for business as long as they continue to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Seventy-five percent of the loan has to be used for payroll. Currently, there is $349 billion in the fund and the program will be open for applications starting Friday.

The California Infrastructure Bank will also be providing up to $50 million in microlending opportunities for businesses ineligible for other assistance programs. — Chris Underwood, web producer

Mayor Faulconer Directs All Vacant City Property To Support Expected COVID-19 Patient Surge

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

People experiencing homeless being moved into the Convention Center, which is being turned into a temporary shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic, on April 1, 2020.

– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Mayor Faulconer on Wednesday announced he is directing all vacant city property to be used to support an expected surge in COVID-19 patients.

“Hospitals will need all the help our community can offer,” he said. “We need all hands on deck.”

The properties involved could include city recreation centers, libraries, which are all closed, and even city parking lots, he said. They could be used as field hospitals, space to conduct tests, and anything the state, county or hospitals need, Faulconer said.

An example of this is the SDCCU Stadium parking lot being used by the county Health and Human Services as a mobile testing center, the mayor said.

Earlier Wednesday, the Convention Center opened as a shelter for people experiencing homelessness. Some 400 people have moved there from the city’s downtown bridge shelters. The next step is to move more homeless individuals downtown from other bridge shelters, Faulconer said.

The mayor said he was in talks with state and federal officials, including Sen. Kamala Harris, about getting funding to move people into permanent housing once the pandemic is over.

He was also in talks with Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Govs. Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger about easing some regulations to help with the recovery effort for people affected financially by the pandemic.

Driving home the point that people need to stay home and only go out when necessary, Faulconer said, “Complacency is the enemy.”

If people ignore the shelter at home and social distancing orders, it could crash the hospital system because of the expected surge in cases in the coming weeks, he said.

“Everyone has the power to help stop this from happening,” Faulconer said.

The mayor also announced one San Diego police officer has recovered from COVID-19. To date, seven public safety officers have contracted the disease, including four city lifeguards, two police officers and one firefighter. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

County Health Officials Announce Five More COVID-19 Deaths, Bringing Total To 15

- 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2020

San Diego County officials Wednesday said five additional people died from coronavirus while another 115 tested positive for the illness. That brings the county’s total to 849 cases with 15 deaths, which includes a fatality that was previously identified as “probable,” officials said.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher urged San Diegans to follow public health orders and slow the spread of infection, especially during April. He said the community’s actions over the next 30 days will decide whether the county’s health care system becomes overwhelmed like in New York and Italy.

“We absolutely and unequivocally believe that the month of April is the month that will determine our trajectory as a region,” he said.

Fletcher said that depends on the public staying home, practicing social distancing and not gathering in large groups. However, he said not all residents are adhering to those directives.

“For these San Diegans we plead with you and we ask you that the month of April is the time in which we must all come together; we must all make an absolutely unequivocal commitment that we will shoulder our share of the load,” he said.

The county is talking with police to step up enforcement of public health orders, such as ensuring the closures of nonessential businesses, and may also make recommendations about wearing masks in public, he said.

The residents who died include a 90-year-old woman, an 83-year-old man, a 74-year-old man, a 73-year-old man and a 71-year-old man. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

Students Applying To UC Schools For The 2021-22 School Year Will Not Have to Submit SAT Scores

– 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The University of California system announced Wednesday that it will not require students applying for admission for the 2021-22 school year to submit SAT scores and is also relaxing other admission requirements amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Students, for example, can take college preparatory classes, also known as A-G courses, as pass/fail through the summer of 2020. Additionally, students transferring from community colleges no longer have a cap on how many classes they can take as pass/fail.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is a disaster of historic proportions disrupting every aspect of our lives, including education for high school students, among others,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano in a statement on Wednesday. “The University’s flexibility at this crucial time will ensure prospective students aiming for UC get a full and fair shot — no matter their current challenges.”

Click here for more information on the changes. — Joe Hong, KPBS education reporter

Schools Won't Likely Reopen Due To COVID-19, Teachers Urged To Continue Distance Learning

– 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Photo by Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Gov. Gavin Newsom updates the state's response to the coronavirus, at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Monday, March 30, 2020.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said that schools likely will not reopen this school year due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, but that distance learning will continue.

"Schools are closed but classes are in," Newsom said.

Tony Thurmond, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, added that maximum social distancing is key to flattening the curve in California and that schools will be using distance learning so that students can continue to get an education safely.

"No one knows when it will be safe to return to campuses," Thurmond said. "Out of an abundance of caution, all schools should maximize distance learning."

Newsom said a management labor agreement had been reached statewide and that the state is in talks with teachers unions to advance distance learning.

Google announced that it will be partnering with the state to provide 100,000 points of access for free high-speed internet. In addition, Google will be providing thousands of Chromebooks to students who need them to meet economic rural and equity issues.

Newsom also provided updates regarding the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, he said, there are 774 COVID-19 patients in ICU's, a 16% increase since Tuesday. Newsom said these numbers as well as the overall hospitalization numbers in California, represent the most urgent need for California.

He said the state is preparing for a two-thirds increase in hospital bed capacity and is working to procure more protective gear, masks and ventilators to meet an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California Health & Human Services, said that with the current stay at home efforts California won't reach hospital bed capacity until late May during the first stage of the COVID-19 surge.

"In order to maintain capacity, stay home, hold people accountable," he said. — Chris Underwood, web producer

Convention Center Opens As Temporary Regional Homeless Shelter

– 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2020

San Diego began transitioning residents of the city's crowded homeless shelters into the Convention Center on Wednesday, as officials look for ways to prevent the coronavirus from rapidly spreading among the especially vulnerable population.

The use of the Convention Center as a temporary homeless shelter was first announced last week. Residents of the city's tent shelters are set to start filling up the Convention Center, while the existing tents are due to be used for public health screenings among the homeless. — Andrew Bowen, KPBS metro reporter

San Diego County Releases COVID-19 Cases By ZIP Code

– 8:08 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The county released information late Monday night detailing coronavirus cases by neighborhoods.

Photo credit: San Diego County

A county chart showing COVID-19 cases by ZIP Code is pictured in this screenshot, March 31, 2020.

In a press conference Monday afternoon, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher warned that while information is available by ZIP Code of residence, it may not reflect location of exposure, in addition to the cases unaccounted for.

On their website, the county added more information may become available as individual case investigations are completed.

Otay Detention Center Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

– 5:45 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A person who works at the Otay Mesa Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 after showing symptoms, CoreCivic announced Tuesday.

The detention center is operated by CoreCivic, a private prison company contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service, to hold detainees.

CoreCivic said in a statement the employee's last shift at the facility was March 21 and they are currently being isolated at home. The contractor says that efforts are being made to contact anyone the person may have had contact with at the detention center.

In a statement, CoerCivic said: "The employee who tested positive had no known physical contact with the detainee population at this time. However, a full review is underway and we're working closely with our partners at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals Service on those efforts."

RELATED: Immigration Detention Facilities Could Become Coronavirus Hot Spots

Advocates say the greatest risk of the spread of coronavirus doesn’t come from the detainees themselves, who have been kept isolated from the larger world for weeks and months, but from the guards and other employees at facilities.

Last week, immigration attorney Dorien Ediger-Seto said that when she walked into the Otay Mesa Detention Center last week to deliver papers to a client, she was shocked by what she saw.

She said she witnessed guards and employees at the private facility going about their work without taking necessary precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“None of the guards had gloves, the security guards were not practicing social-distancing, there were signs up telling people to do, but it looked very much like business as usual at the detention center,” said Ediger-Seto, an attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center. — Chris Underwood, web producer

City Outlines Steps Grocers, Workers And Public Can Take To Prevent Spread Of COVID-19

– 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020

San Diego Mayor Faulconer on Tuesday outlined steps grocery stores, employees and customers are taking and can take to keep grocery shopping safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the state's "Stay At Home" order, grocery stores have been designated essential services. Throughout the crisis, grocery stores and workers have been working to keep up with increased demand which increases their contact with the public.

On Monday, county health officials announced that three local food handlers were confirmed to have COVID-19.

"Grocery workers, like our first responders, are on the front lines," Faulconer said. "This is incredibly important. Getting food to San Diegans is important."

The mayor, along with Councilwoman Georgette Gomez and United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135, are asking all San Diegans, shoppers and workers, to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Several steps people can take are:

– Avoid using cash, instead use credit cards or mobile pay apps

– Don't go to the store if you feel sick

– Don't go with the whole family, go in smaller groups

Customers and employees are advised to maintain social distancing as much as possible in stores.

The mayor pointed out that many stores have already adopted practices to protect their employees, but, for stores that haven't taken any measures, employees are encouraged to contact the owners to demand action be taken.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135 is urging food handlers to wash their hands every 30 min and to regularly wash their work stations. The union is also calling on stores to limit their hours in order to allow time for workers to safely restock and clean the stores.

"These workers are on the frontline of our COVID-19 outbreak. They have been working around the clock," Councilwoman Georgette said. "Keeping our community healthy and safe is our number one priority. "

"If you have to go to the stores, be mindful of the people around you." — Chris Underwood, web producer

County Reports Largest Single-Day COVID-19 Increase With 131 New Cases, Two Deaths

- 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Two more deaths and 131 new COVID-19 cases were reported in San Diego County Tuesday, the largest single-day increase thus far, county health officials announced.

Those new cases now bring the total to 734, but Supervisor Nathan Fletcher warned the public not to read too much into the reporting because it can be “influenced by a series of things.”

“We’re still in the early days for the region,” he said. “There is so much we don’t know (such as how many actual cases and when virus spread will peak).”

The county's first case was reported about three weeks ago and the region has only been under a stay-at-home order for less than two weeks. Fletcher said he expects cases will rise as more people get tested.

“It will continue to rise in the foreseeable future,” he said.

There were also two more deaths and one probable death associated with the virus reported, county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. That brings the total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths to nine in the county.

The viral spread has not yet reached its peak in the San Diego region, she said.

Photo credit: County of San Diego

A chart showing the number of tests reported, cases, hospitalizations, ICU stays and deaths from COVID-19 in San Diego on March 31, 2020.

With regards to the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship that docked in San Diego on Monday, county epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said in addition to the one passenger, three crew members had also tested positive for the coronavirus.

When pressed by reporters why he had said there were no reported cases on the cruise ship, McDonald said the extent of the person’s condition was not known at the time.

“We didn’t know the full condition of the patient until that patient arrived at the hospital,” he said. “This specific case and three crew members really had no effect on the disembarkation process for those leaving the ship.”

He said those leaving the ship were asymptomatic and did not have any close contact with the infected individuals.

Approximately 1,200 more passengers disembarked from the ship Tuesday. McDonald said it was done in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current guidelines, which is for cruise ship passengers who are asymptomatic to leave the ship as soon as possible and return home for self-quarantine.

This is different than what the CDC had previously recommended. Cruise ship passengers were previously held in federal quarantine before being allowed to return home. McDonald said at that time, the strategy was to contain the spread of the virus. The strategy now is to mitigate it.

“It is safer and faster and better for all involved to quickly leave the cruise ship and home quarantine,” he said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

California To Release 3,500 Inmates In Attempt To Decrease Coronavirus Spread

— 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31 2020

In an attempt to decrease crowding in state prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Tuesday it's granting release to 3,500 inmates. All were scheduled to be released in the next 60 days.

Lawyers and advocates have been pressing Gov. Gavin Newsom to do more to decrease crowding at prisons and prevent further spread of the coronavirus. They wrote a letter to the governor earlier this week that says there are 122,000 people in the state's 35 prisons, but prisons were designed for a maximum capacity of 85,000.

"With multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases at California’s prisons of staff and incarcerated individuals, unless you take action very soon, it is only a matter of time before California’s jails and prisons become a source of uncontrolled transmission for the COVID-19 virus," the letter said.

As of Monday, there were 26 COVID-19 cases spread across 10 prisons, but the majority of cases were among workers. Now, workers have their temperatures checked before they report for work.

The state is also taking other measures to decrease crowding, including blocking transfer of inmates from county jails to state prisons, and taking some inmates out of dorms where they sleep close together and share showers and sinks. — Claire Trageser, investigative reporter

Positive COVID-19 Case Found In Passenger On Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship

– 1:46 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A passenger aboard the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship docked in San Diego Harbor has tested positive for novel coronavirus, county health officials confirmed Tuesday.

A letter sent Tuesday to all the passengers by Celebrity Cruises instructed them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

"Celebrity Cruises has recently been advised that a person who sailed on Celebrity Eclipse from March 1st through 30th has recently tested positive for COVID-19. Because you were a passenger on the same voyage, it is possible you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19," the letter reads.

After the ship docked, the individual was taken to a hospital with medical issues that were not believed to be related to COVID-19, including possible pneumonia and heart issues, the Union-Tribune reported. Medical staff later diagnosed the patient, who is not a San Diego County resident, with the coronavirus.

County health officials said Monday that no patient aboard the ship had been diagnosed with the illness, and Celebrity Cruises appeared to confirm that earlier this morning before the diagnosis was announced. — City News Service

Gov. Newsom Launches Campaign To Protect Health Of Older Californians; Grants More Relief For Businesses Taxpayers

– 12:51 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Gov. Newsom announced Tuesday the state is stepping up to protect Californians over the age of 65 from the coronavirus by launching the "Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In" campaign.

“No older Californian should be forced to go outside to get groceries or their medication. It’s on all of us across the state to check in on the older adults in our lives — our friends, family and neighbors — to help them during this outbreak," Newsom said. "Each and every one of us must reach out in a safe way to make sure our older neighbors have someone to talk to and have enough food to eat during these difficult times.”

The three part-campaign:

– Asks Californians to call or safely check-in on five of the older folks in their lives;

– Encourages use of new, statewide 24/7 hotline ((833) 544-2374);

– Partners with AARP to better reach older Californians, which includes sending a mailer to residents 65 and older, with useful resources and information to help adapt to the stay at home order.

“Social isolation can be difficult for older Californians even in the best of times,” said Kim McCoy Wade, director of the California Department of Aging. “We have to help aging Californians feel connected – and we must ensure we all have access to any needed services right now. This work will save lives.”

The campaign builds on existing efforts by California Volunteers and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to help older Californians and those who need food assistance.

The governor stressed the importance of making contact with seniors through welfare checks and helping ensure they receive the food and medication they need.

Newsom also announced an executive order aimed at providing more relief to small businesses across the state. All small businesses will have an additional three months to file returns and pay taxes. Additionally, all businesses will have an extra 60 days to file claims for a refund from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration or to appeal a CDTFA decision to the Office of Tax Appeals.

For more information:

– Visit the CDTFA website to find answers on specific topics;

– Phone the Customer Support Center at 1-800-400-7115 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to – 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, except state holidays);

– Call or email a local CDTFA office;

Email or chat with the CDTFA regarding their general, non-confidential tax questions;

– Watch "How To Videos" and other online instructional resources; or

– Write a letter by mail.

— Chris Underwood, web producer

San Diego Police Shut Down Police Academy For Two Weeks Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

– 10:25 a.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The San Diego Police Department announced Tuesday that it is closing down its police academy for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Diego Regional Public Safety Training Institute held at Miramar Community College was training two academy classes containing a total of 185 recruits, SDPD Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said.

"With the health and safety of those recruits and their families in mind, law enforcement leaders in the region have elected to suspend both academies for the next two weeks," Takeuchi said. "Academy staff will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will determine if a longer suspension is needed."

The 122nd class was scheduled to graduate 88 recruits in May and the 123rd class was scheduled to graduate 97 recruits in August, he said.

It was not immediately clear if the closure would affect those graduation dates.

The academy teaches a 25-week program that consists of 928 hours of academic and practical training.

"That training environment requires many hours of in-person and scenario based training that simply cannot be replicated in a virtual format," Takeuchi said. – City News Service

San Diego State University Student Tests Positive For COVID-19

– 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A San Diego State University student who lived on campus has tested positive for the coronavirus, the university announced Monday.

The student started to feel symptoms after moving off-campus, a university official said.

Everyone connected to the university who has had contact with the student has been notified and is "receiving appropriate guidance," according to the official.

"As social distancing guidelines have been in effect, the situation is contained to a small number of individuals," the official said.

Information about the student was not released. – City News Service

San Diego County Confirms 84 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5: 23 p.m., Monday, March 30. 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County increased to 603 Monday, a jump of 84 from Sunday, and includes a San Diego police officer.

The number of deaths held at seven, but 118 county residents are currently hospitalized, 51 in intensive care.

Mayor Faulconer Declares City Employees Disaster Workers

– 5:07 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued an executive order Monday declaring all city employees disaster workers.

Under the California State Emergency Act, city employees will now have the power to assist in efforts to help protect life and property and to help mitigate the effects of the local COVID-19 emergency.

"This is not a crisis that will be solved overnight, but this is a crisis we can all help resolve," Faulconer said.

Faulconer announced that a second San Diego Police officer is confirmed to have COVID-19. The mayor said there are now seven confirmed cases among the city's first responders, including four lifeguards and one firefighter.

The city is pausing the current police academy to prevent the spread of the virus to cadets. All firefighter academies have also been put on hold, as well as an advanced lifeguard course.

More than 5,300 small businesses applied to the city's small business relief fund, the mayor said. If all of those applications are approved, it's possible there isn't enough money in the $6 million fund to cover all the applicants.

Faulconer said they would be looking for other ways to grow the fund to continue supporting local businesses impacted by the outbreak.

San Diego County Issues 2 New Orders Limiting Cruise Ships From Docking

- 3:15 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020

San Diego County public health officials on Monday issued two new public health orders limiting cruise ships from docking in San Diego.

One of the orders bars cruise ships from docking in San Diego after March 31, except for refueling and picking up supplies provided no crew members or passengers disembark. The second order bars passengers and crew members from disembarking without the county public health officer’s (or designate) approval. That includes emergency health evacuations.

The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship that docked in San Diego on Monday had the approval of the county public health officers and was done in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said

The orders are meant to limit the arrival of cruise ships and to better control disembarkations, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. He noted that San Diego has been doing its part to help by accepting the repatriations of Americans from Wuhan and from the Grand Princess cruise ship. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

San Diego Zoo, Safari Park To Close Indefinitely

- 1:42 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020

Both the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park will remain closed until further notice, San Diego Zoo Global announced Monday.

The closure is in accordance with advice from health experts and government officials, the zoo said. Zoo workers will continue to get paid through April 19.

Workers deemed essential will continue to work to care for animals and plants at the parks, the zoo said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Del Mar Fairgrounds Hosting Drive-Thru Food Distribution For Families In Need

- 1:40 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020

The Del Mar Fairgrounds is planning a drive-through food distribution Friday for families in need.

The drive-thru, a partnership between the San Diego Food Bank and Del Mar Fairgrounds, is for low-income families and those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will be on a first-come, first-served basis and there is enough food for 1,000 cars, the Fairgrounds said. For health reasons, there are no food distributions for walk-ups.

The drive-thru distribution begins at 10 a.m. Friday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. For families not able to arrive by car, visit SanDiegoFoodBank.org/GetHelp or call (866) 350-3663. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Gov. Newsom Calls On Retired Health Care Professionals, Students To Help During COVID-19 Pandemic

– 12:45 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he is asking people with a background in health care to sign up with the state in order to help treat the rising number of patients with COVID-19, stressing the need for more health care personnel, stating that "the next few weeks will be critical."

“California’s health care workers are the heroes of this moment, serving on the front lines in the fight against this disease. To treat the rising number of patients with COVID-19, our state needs more workers in the health care field to join the fight. If you have a background in health care, we need your help. Sign up at healthcorps.ca.gov,” said Gov. Newsom.

Newsom said that statewide there needs to be a two-thirds increase in overall capacity for the state's hospital systems in order to meet a predicted surge that's expected to take place over the next several weeks.

Newsom said the state is looking for anyone who has a background in medicine or health care to meet this need. That includes retired doctors, nurses, EMT's and technicians, as well as anyone currently nearing the completion of medical school, nursing school or any other health care related certifications.

Newsom said that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook will be providing up to $25 million in stipends to help provide health care volunteers with childcare, transportation and hotel lodging.

Newsom said he signed an executive order aimed at doing two things: expand the size of the state's health care workforce by temporarily suspending licensing and staffing requirements for health care professionals through June 30 and to add 50,000 hospital beds across the state.

Newsom said that the U.S Army Corps of Engineers is actively identifying sites to be used as triage centers across the state to boost the number of hospital beds. In addition, the state is pursuing more surgical masks and protective gear for health care workers.

They are also seeking 10,000 more ventilators, Newsom said.

During the last four days, the number of hospitalizations in California doubled to 1,442, Newsom said. In addition, the number of ICU patients over that same period tripled across the state.

"The hospitalization numbers, the ICU numbers, are what we are most focused on," Newsom said. – Chris Underwood, web producer

City Of Vista Closes All Parks

-8:50 a.m. Monday, March 30, 2020

The City of Vista announced Sunday that starting Monday it would temporarily close all city parks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

"This is due to the increasing number of confirmed cases in Vista, currently at 10 as of Saturday," the city said in a news release.

The closures include all parks and trails and restrooms, the South Buena Vista off-leash dog area, athletic fields, basketball courts, pickleball courts, playgrounds, skate parks and tennis courts. - City News Service

Five San Diego Food Handlers Test Positive for COVID-19

-6:50 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020

San Diego County health officials said Sunday that five food handlers have tested positive for COVID-19 — four restaurant employees and a grocery store employee.

The grocery store employee who tested positive is from an Albertson's store in Escondido, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said, adding that the store did the right thing by closing, alerting county environmental health officials, following sanitation protocols, then re-opening to customers.

"If you have a sick worker, they must stay home," Fletcher said, urging employers to call 858-505-6814 to report any sick workers.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology, said co-workers of the Albertson's employee who display any symptoms of the coronavirus infection will be sent home, but there are no tests pending in this case.

Health officials also stressed that there is no evidence of COVID-19 association with food. They cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Fletcher also said that the county is increasing inspections of the many food facilities in the region.

Also Saturday, Fletcher said the county is issuing a new public health order, extending indefinitely until further notice all closure orders that were set to expire March 31.

"We still are in the early days," Fletcher said. The closure order applies to schools, nonessential businesses, restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, he said, and anyone 65 or older should continue to quarantine themselves at home. — City News Service

County Reports 519 Cases Of Coronavirus; No New Deaths

-5:45 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020

San Diego County health officials Sunday reported 519 local cases of the coronavirus, up from the 488 reported Saturday, and no new deaths.

The increase in reported cases in the past 24 hours is smaller than in recent days, though officials warn the local outbreak is likely still weeks from reaching its peak and that strict "social distancing" practices are critical to preventing the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.

"I want to thank San Diegans for being patient and following orders to stay at home and use social distancing," said County Supervisor Greg Cox at Sunday's coronavirus press briefing. "That's going to get harder and harder as we get further into this crisis, but it's the best way to slow down the spread of the virus."

Seven county residents have died from COVID-19 so far, while 106 have been hospitalized and 47 admitted into intensive care.

Nearly two-thirds of patients diagnosed with the coronavirus are under the age of 50. While most of the deaths have been among older adults, last week a 25-year-old county resident with no underlying health conditions died from COVID-19. — Andrew Bowen, Metro Reporter

Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship To Dock In San Diego

-4:25 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship is scheduled to dock in San Diego on Monday after reportedly being refused permission to disembark in Chile amid fears of the coronavirus.

There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 among the ship's roughly 1,500 passengers. They are all being ordered to return straight home and spend 14 days in home isolation, per the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for anyone who traveled on a cruise ship through international waters.

Eric McDonald, medical director for the San Diego County Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch, said it could take between 24 and 48 hours for all the passengers to get off the ship.

"At this time the plan is to have those individuals screen for symptoms, have their temperatures taken and they will be disembarking with plans to go straight to their homes of record," he said in a press conference Sunday.

The Celebrity Eclipse boarded in Buenos Aires on March 1, and was later refused permission to dock in Chile amid fears of potentially infected passengers spreading the coronavirus, according to media reports. — Andrew Bowen, Metro Reporter

Watch San Diego County Update On Coronavirus Cases

-2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020

Imperial County Confirms 4 More COVID-19 Cases

-10:15 a.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Imperial County Health Department said it now has results on all 170 coronavirus tests done so far, and 25 people have tested positive for the virus. That is an increase of four from Saturday. So far, there have been no deaths from COVID-19 in Imperial County. – Gina Diamante, News Editor

Costco Adds Another Hour For Senior Shopping

-9 a.m. Sunday, March 29, 2020

Costco is expanding its senior shopping hours due to high demand. Starting this week, Costco warehouses will open from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for members 60 and older. Members with physical impairments will also be able to shop during that time.

Previously, senior hours had only been available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and long lines had formed outside the stores hours before opening. Members with physical impairments will also be able to shop during that time. – Gina Diamante, News Editor

417 Cases In San Diego, 7 Deaths

-2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020

County officials on Saturday reported a seventh death in San Diego County. The latest victim was a man in his eighties with underlying medical conditions. But health officials stressed that people of all ages can be affected by COVID-19. Just yesterday they had reported the death of a 25-year old man who did not have any other known health issues.

“Just these two deaths reflect the sober reality that COVID can affect individuals at all ages,” said Nick Yphantides, San Diego County's chief medical officer.

Yphantides said the United States now has the leading number of confirmed coronavirus cases. There have been 1,800 deaths worldwide.

In San Diego, there are 488 positive cases and 7 total deaths, which is a 1.67% mortality rate. He added that of these cases, 63% are individuals aged 18-49 years old.

“We have lots of data...we look at the percentage of beds available, ICU beds, negative pressure beds, percentage of those beds creeps in the direction of more. All of these indicators are in the favorable position. We are in the calm before some level of expected viral storm,” Yphantides said.

But, he reiterated Saturday that he expects the number of cases to go up. He says the peak of San Diego’s curve will likely arrive in the coming weeks.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Saturday marked the single largest increase in cases overnight since the onset of the outbreak, with an additional 76 new cases.

“While this is not unexpected, it should be a wake-up call to the public to heed very seriously the public health warnings and orders that have been given. We really are asking for the cooperation of everyone out there. If you are not an essential business you should not be open,” said Fletcher.

On the issue of potential cross-border contamination between Tijuana and San Diego, county epidemiologist Eric McDonald said San Diego county officials are working with Mexican authorities through daily updates. He said the county has a standard process that it uses with Baja California via the binational disease surveillance system. – Shalina Chatlani, KPBS Science & Technology Reporter

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

– 2:00 p.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom gave an update Saturday on COVID-19 in the state and the number of ventilators available to treat patients after a tour of Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale. The facility is refurbishing hundreds of ventilators to be returned back to the state’s stockpile.

Newsom said that the state of California hasn’t received any ventilators yet from the federal government, and is looking toward the private market for opportunities. He says in this time of crisis, numerous manufacturers and companies throughout Silicon Valley are stepping up to provide resources.

“The state of California, for example, had 514 ventillators that hadn’t been looked at and unboxed since 2011. Many of the batteries… they quite literally were not working,” Newsom said.

The CEO of San Jose-based Bloom Energy, K. R. Sridhar, said the company plans to refurbish and send out more than one hundred ventilators on Saturday alone. The company has already completed work on 80 ventilators and sent them back to the state.

“The healthcare workers, the state employees, who are all facilitating this, there’s an incredible amount of essential service workers helping us as common citizens,” Sridhar said.

“When you see one of them, I think for us, as the average resident in California, the minimum we can do is reach out and say thank you,” he said.

Newsom said California has currently procured over 4,000 ventilators. Over a thousand need to be refurbished. The goal is to get to 10,000.

“That’s the spirit of California, that’s the spirit of this moment. Take responsibility, take ownership,” Newsom said. “Three hundred-fifty manufacturers have come to the state saying we want to offer a similar approach to retooling our facilities and meeting this moment.”

Newsom said that overnight from Friday to Saturday the number of patients admitted into ICU went up 105% in California, while hospitalization numbers went up about 38%.

“If you’ve got old equipment, send it our way, and we’ll send it right here to this facility,” Newsom said. “We can bend those curves by bending to the entrepreneurial capacity we know resides in the state and across the nation.” – Shalina Chatlani, KPBS Science and Technology Reporter

California News Updates: Farmworkers wary of COVID-19 Spread, Surge In Cases Threatens Hospital Capacity, Restaurants Hit Hard

-11:00 a.m., Saturday March 28, 2020

California farms are still working to supply food to much of the United States amid the coronavirus. But some farmworkers are anxious about the virus spreading among them. Many travel in groups to fields and say employers show no regard for social distancing. Some farms are keeping workers spaced out and asking them to wear gloves and use hand sanitizer. If workers are sidelined by illness, it could jeopardize crop yields and disrupt the food supply.

California is beginning to see the surge of coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm hospitals. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said California's cases grew 26% in a day. Johns Hopkins University tallied more than 4,700 California cases as of Friday afternoon, with at least 97 deaths. State officials have been preparing for a surge in hospitalizations and have scrambled to create the estimated 50,000 additional beds that could be needed. Help arrived Friday in the form of the Navy hospital ship Mercy that docked in the Port of Los Angeles. It has 1,000 beds and will be used to treat non-COVID-19 patients to free up hospitals for virus cases.

California's restaurant industry, which has been hit hard by restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus, is warning that 30% of its businesses could close permanently without help from the state. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom sent Friday, the California Restaurant Association says directives that have closed sit-down dining rooms around the state have nearly decimated the industry. Among its proposals in a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the group wants a delay in planned minimum-wage increases and a postponement in property and other tax payments. The California Labor Federation says it would strongly oppose any effort to roll back scheduled minimum wage increases. – Associated Press

Imperial County Reports 21 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

– 8:55 a.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020

Health officials in Imperial County say they have now confirmed 21 cases of COVID-19. The new number was released late Friday, and is an increase of four from Thursday. County officials say they have tested 170 people. 140 of those tests came back negative. Results are still pending for nine tests. – Gina Diamante, KPBS Editor

San Diego Taking Applications For Small Business Relief

– 8:53 a.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020

At a Friday Afternoon press conference, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that the city's $6.1 million small business relief fund is now accepting applications. The fund will provide loans and grants between $10,000 and $20,000 to help local businesses of under 100 employees stay afloat and limit job losses during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses can apply at SanDiego.gov. – Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS Immigration Reporter

MTS To Continue Regular Bus, Trolley Service Through April 12

– 8:21 a.m., Saturday, March 28, 2020

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will continue running normal weekday and weekend service through April 12, transit officials announced Friday.

"We want our riders to know they can depend on us right now," said MTS CEO Paul Jablonski. "There have been a lot of changes in everyone's lives lately. Transit service will stay the same at least through April 12 to afford our passengers needed transit in the safest environment possible.

"Trolley and bus service will continue to be monitored," he said. "If MTS makes changes, we will be sure that everyone knows when and if service levels are going to change."

To keep passengers and employees safe, MTS has implemented strict sanitizing procedures on all vehicles and stations.

Additionally, MTS implemented the following strategies to help with social distancing:

— increased the distance separating passengers from the bus operator to 6 feet. The standee line was moved 48 inches toward the rear of the bus;

— provided every operator with hand sanitizer and gloves;

— for security personnel checking fares on trolleys, all inspections are done on station platforms instead of onboard trolleys. Visual inspection of fares is allowed;

— all MTS vehicles are cleaned daily, with additional deep cleanings using bleach to disinfect, and other solutions recommended by the CDC;

— disinfectant is used to wipe down exposed surfaces nightly;

— posted personal hygiene rules on vehicles;

— posted social distancing messaging on all electronic signage and at trolley stations;

— established handwashing stations at all trolley stops; and

— increased daily cleanings on the internal and external surfaces of trolleys and at major transit stops. -City News Service

San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Increase By 76 To 417

– 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2020

San Diego County health officials Friday reported 76 new COVID-19 cases Friday — the largest day-over-day increase to date, along with two deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 417 and the death toll to five.

The virus claimed the lives of a man in his mid-50s and a man in his early 80s, according to officials.

Of the positive-testing individuals, 85 have been hospitalized, with 38 of those patients listed as critical.

A 25-year-old pharmacy technician and resident of San Diego County died of the illness in the Riverside County community of La Quinta on Wednesday, according to that county's public health officer, but his death was not included in the San Diego County data.

San Diego County health officials also confirmed the death of one of the passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship, who was among those who had been placed under federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. His death was also not included in the county figures.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology, said the 86-year-old man was one of a handful of patients from the cruise ship remaining in the county. The majority were sent home after their two-week quarantine. — City News Service

First San Diego Police Officer Tests Positive For COVID-19

- 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2020

Photo credit: 10News

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

A San Diego police officer from the Western Division became the first law enforcement officer in the city of San Diego to test positive for COVID-19, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Friday.

Three lifeguards from San Diego Fire-Rescue Department have also tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, he said. That brings the number of public safety professionals who have tested positive to six, he said.

Recognizing that the weekend is here, Faulconer reminded San Diegans that city parks, beaches and hiking trails are all closed.

“They stayed at work for you, stay at home for them,” he said, referring to public safety and healthcare professionals who are still working during the pandemic while many people are home sheltering in place.

Also, small businesses that have been negatively affected by the pandemic can start applying for microloans through the city’s small business relief fund at 5 p.m. Friday.

Details on how to apply for the loans are on the city’s website, sandiego.gov/coronavirus. — Alexander Nguyen, web editor

San Diego County Confirms Three New COVID-19 Deaths

– 2:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2020

San Diego County health officials confirmed three new COVID-19 related deaths Friday afternoon, bringing the total number of deaths to six.

The deaths included one man in his mid-50s and another male in his early 80s. The county also reported the death of a 25-year-old male San Diego County resident in Riverside County. Officials said the man contracted the virus outside Riverside County but had been self-quarantining in La Quinta when he died.

Additionally, an 86-year-old man who had been a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship and was in federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar died at a San Diego-area hospital Friday, county health officials confirmed.

He was not a San Diego County resident and therefore won't be included in the county's count.

County officials also announced that quarantine operations at MCAS Miramar have ended.

Oceanside Councilman Forfeits Salary To Help Local Residents, Businesses

– 2:19 p.m., March 27, 2020

Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez announced Friday he would give up the salary he earns in his council post to help local residents and businesses as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.

"In this time of great need and uncertainty for Oceanside residents, I have decided to forfeit my salary as an Oceanside city councilman and ask that the amount be directed to the programs the city is launching to help the businesses and residents affected by the current shutdown," he said in a statement. "Cooperation and solidarity are demanded of us in this time of great crisis."

Rodriguez, a former Marine, added that the city "will be acting to assist residents and local employers" and said he is "hopeful these programs will lessen the financial impact on our friends and neighbors."

"We will get through this by following the advice of our public health officials to ensure we all remain safe and healthy, and each of us doing our part to keep our city moving forward," said Rodriguez, a real estate agent and farmer.

Oceanside City Council members earn $2,832.75 a month, or $33,993 yearly. – City News Matters

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

– 1:00 p.m., Friday March 27, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference Friday at the Port of Los Angeles to announce the arrival of the USNS Mercy hospital ship and to provide a state update on the COVID-19 outbreak.

Newsom and Mayor Garcetti both declared their enthusiasm over the arrival of USNS Mercy which will be used to treat non-COVID-19 patients which will free up bed space in the region's hospitals for people who need treatment for COVID-19.

Newsom and Garcetti gave thanks to President Donald Trump for deploying the Mercy to Los Angeles. The mayor said the ship immediately becomes the largest hospital in the city — at full capacity increasing the area's available hospital beds by two-thirds.

He said the Mercy will be a "COVID-19-free bubble" to take stress off medical centers.

"By every person who comes in ... every bed not taken in Los Angeles by the great work of the men and women here will mean one more bed for the surge the governor spoke about," Garcetti said. "This truly is mercy on the water."

Mercy is staffed by more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff, and 70-plus civil service mariners who operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the medical facility running.

The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults, according to the Navy. This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their intensive care units and ventilators for those patients.

Newsom also added that the state government had procured 109 million surgical masks as well as millions of gloves and gowns for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients. The state has procured nearly 5,000 ventilators. Newsom said the state goal is 10,000 to support the anticipated influx of COVID-19 cases in the coming tests.

Newsom also announced the state has issued an order banning evictions of tenants who have been directly impacted by COVID-19. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19.

Gov. Newsom Declares Moratorium On Evictions Because Of COVID-19

– 12:55 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday issued an executive order banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020.

The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19.

The tenant would be required to retain documentation but not required to submit it to the landlord in advance. And the tenant would remain obligated to repay full rent in “a timely manner” and could still face eviction after the enforcement moratorium is lifted.

The order takes effect immediately and provides immediate relief to tenants for whom rent is due on April 1.

Applications Open Late Friday For San Diego Small Business Relief Fund

– 12:25 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020

Photo by Andi Dukleth

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

San Diego small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for the city's Small Business Relief Fund starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

The $6.1 million fund provides grants and micro-loans ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 to help local small businesses retain employees and stay afloat amid various federal, state and local public health orders aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the economic relief package last week, which has since increased from an initial $4 million announced by the city to $6.1 million.

The program is open to businesses that can show they have sustained economic hardship due to COVID-19, have a city business license and have been in operation for at least six months, Faulconer said in an announcement earlier this week.

Businesses with more than 100 employees, nonprofits and home-based businesses are among those ineligible for the fund.

Applications will be posted at 5 p.m. at sandiego.gov, according to city officials. — City News Service

Legoland California Extends Closure Until April 15

– 12:25 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020

Citing the ongoing pandemic and recent changes in the COVID-19 situation, Legoland California extended its temporary closure Friday until at least April 15.

The closure includes the main park, water park, Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Hotels.

"The health and safety of our guests and our staff remains our top priority and we'll continue to follow the safety measures recommended within the federal, state and CDC guidelines," park spokesman Jake Gonzales said in a statement.

Visitors with pre-existing reservations during the closure can cancel for a full refund or reschedule without penalty or additional charge — excluding the month of July 2020, and Dec. 26 - Jan.3, 2021.

For more information, visit Legoland.com/covid-19/. — City News Service

Jamul Casino to Extend COVID-19 Related Closure For Another Two Weeks

– 12:25 p.m. March 27, 2020

Jamul Casino will extend its coronavirus-related closure for another two weeks, after initially planning to reopen at the end of the month.

The casino is now slated to reopen April 12, following its closure last week in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The safety and well-being of their tribal members, guests, and team members of Jamul Casino are of the utmost importance to the tribe, and they have issued a declaration of emergency to respond to the crisis," according to a statement released Thursday.

Jamul was one of several tribal casinos in San Diego County that announced it would close its doors to protect the public and employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Barona Resort & Casino, Golden Acorn Casino, Sycuan Casino Resort and Viejas Casino & Resort have also closed their doors to the public.

"The Tribes are united in this decision to close for the health and well-being of the community, their guests and approximately 9,000 employees," a joint statement announcing the closures last week read. "Despite this closure, it is their hope that they can continue to provide emergency services for their respective communities." — City News Service

Nurse At Women's Detention Facility In Santee Tests Positive For COVID-19

– 8:25 a.m. March 27, 2020

Nine employees of a women's detention facility in Santee are self-quarantining today after a nurse at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus.

The nurse, who works at Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility, has been isolating at home since feeling ill on Sunday, according to Lt. Ricardo Lopez of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The nurse did not have any contact with inmates, but nine employees are self-quarantining at home "out of an abundance of caution," Lopez said.

Thirty-one employees of the sheriff's department have experienced flu- like symptoms and have self-quarantined during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Lopez. Two others, aside from the nurse, have been tested for COVID-19. Those results are pending. -City News Service

San Diego COVID-19 Cases Doubled Since Sunday

– 6 p.m. March 26, 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases in San Diego County rose to 341 Thursday, an increase of 64 cases over Wednesday, the county reported.

That's the largest increase since the outbreak began; the number has doubled since Sunday.

Of the positive-testing individuals, 69 have been hospitalized, with 31 of those patients listed as critical. County health officials stopped counting non-county residents Thursday, but there were 20 positive-testing individuals in that category Wednesday.

The county also reported a third county death — a woman in her 80s. — City News Service

San Diego-Area Reported Crime Dips Amid Coronavirus Crisis

– 5:16 p.m. March 26, 2020

Reported crime in the San Diego area has decreased notably since the coronavirus pandemic led Gov. Gavin Newsom to direct Californians to shelter in their homes as much as possible as a means of slowing the spread of the disease, local law enforcement officials said Thursday.

For the San Diego Police Department, calls for service dipped by 11% over a five-day period ending last Thursday, as compared with the comparable time span the previous week, according to SDPD public-affairs Lt. Shawn Takeuchi. "It's very calm out there," he noted this afternoon.

While stressing he could not conclusively tie the trend to the societal restrictions spurred by the COVID-19 emergency, Takeuchi said it was "safe to say that with businesses ... shuttered, with schools not in session, it's reasonable to believe that less calls (would be) made to the San Diego Police Department."

Likewise, officials with the police departments in Chula Vista and Oceanside described significant drops in service calls over the last several weeks, though they could provide no hard numbers.

The California Highway Patrol, for its part, has reported dramatically lessened traffic throughout the San Diego region since the public health crisis began prompting societal shutdowns across the state and nation. -City News Service

City Faces $109M Budget Shortfall Due To Economic Impact Of COVID-19

– 4:30 p.m. March 26, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday that the city is facing a $109 million revenue shortfall over the next four months due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $109 million figure comes from projections that the city will lose $26 million in sales taxes and $83 million in hotel tourism taxes, the city's second and third largest revenue sources.

The city's adopted budget for 2020 is $4.3 billion.

The city is expected to receive some relief from the federal government's $2 trillion stimulus package, however, the mayor and Councilman Scott Sherman expect that "difficult decisions" will have to be made in order to balance the budget.

Sherman said that "core services" will be a priority for the city moving forward and that cuts to non essential city services are expected. – Chris Underwood, web producer

– 3:15 p.m., March 26, 2020

An 87-year-old woman became the third person from San Diego County to die of COVID-19, county chief medical officer Dr. Nick Yphantides announced Wednesday.

She is the second person to die in the county from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. On Tuesday, the county announced a 76-year-man died from the disease. Over the weekend, a San Diego man in his early 70s died in Santa Clara County. Even though he didn't die in San Diego County, health officials included his death in the total count because he was a county resident.

“We are still in the eye of the (virus) storm,” Yphantides said. There is evidence of substantial spread of the virus in the county, he added.

Yphantides reiterated what county officials have been saying since the pandemic started, there are not enough testing kits for everyone. That’s why the county is recommending that people with mild to moderate symptoms not get tested so that tests can be prioritized for medical workers, people with severe symptoms and people with underlying health conditions.

He did acknowledge that more testing would improve the epidemiology modeling, but right now the county does not have that capacity.

As part of the county’s effort to increase hospital capacity to fight the virus, Rady Children’s Hospital announced that it will increase the age for admission up to people in their mid-20s to free up beds at other hospitals for adult patients. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Padres Cancel Opening Day, Provide Lunch To Local Health Care Workers

– 12 p.m., March 26, 2020

Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day, but the San Diego Padres announced it has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Major League Baseball previously announced that it would delay the season by two weeks but the team said it is unsure when baseball season will return.

However, in recognition of Opening Day, the Padres said the team is partnering with Phil's BBQ to provide meals for UCSD Health and the San Diego Blood Bank. Also, God Bless America will be played at an empty Petco Park in solidarity with the country.

The Padres said the organization would be in contact with ticket holders regarding postponed games. – Chris Underwood, web producer

Coronavirus-Stricken Chula Vista Councilman Padilla Making Progress In ICU

Photo by Courtesy photo

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

– 7:11 a.m., March 26, 2020

Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla is making "slow, steady progress in overcoming COVID-19," Ashleigh Padilla, his daughter, wrote Wednesday.

The councilman remains on a ventilator in the ICU, but he is now in stable condition, she wrote.

“My dad is a fighter, and he’s fighting through this -- with the help of amazing doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who are caring for him. We’re hopeful that he’s reached a turning point and will be home soon."

San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Jump To Nearly 300

– 6:10 p.m., March 25, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in San Diego County reached 297 Wednesday, an increase of 55 from Tuesday, tying the highest day-over-day increase in COVID-19 cases so far.

Of the nearly 300 positive-testing individuals, 59 have been hospitalized, with 29 of those patients listed as critical. The number of coronavirus deaths in San Diego County — two — remained unchanged.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's medical director of epidemiology, presented a bleak report at an afternoon briefing, stating that if social distancing is not maintained by the public, and cases double every three days, the county's hospital beds will be filled by April 14. Even if the cases double every six days, healthcare providers are likely looking at full bed capacity by mid-May, he said.

Of the 297 people in San Diego County with positive diagnoses, health officials said 277 are county residents and 20 are not. Men testing positive outnumbered women 185-112.

Of the 59 patients who have been hospitalized, 57 are county residents. Twenty-eight of those hospitalized were in intensive care units, as was one non-county resident.

Cases in patients between 20 and 59 formed the bulk of the total, 236 overall or 79% of cases.

McDonald said that statistic probably represented a testing bias, as members of the military, first-responders and healthcare workers fall most frequently into that age group and those groups are tested at rates much higher than the general population.

McDonald said the county would, beginning Thursday, cease counting non-county residents in daily coronavirus updates. — City News Service

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

– 4:30 p.m., March 25, 2020

The San Diego City Council Wednesday unanimously approved an immediate eviction moratorium to provide relief to residents and businesses facing financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council, which convened an emergency meeting, also unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar small business relief fund proposed last week by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The emergency law temporarily halting evictions in San Diego will last until May 31. Tenants must demonstrate a "substantial decrease in income or medical expenses" caused by COVID-19 in order to qualify. It will not relieve a tenant of their requirement to pay rent or restrict a landlord from recovering rent at a future time.

"San Diegans shouldn't have to worry about losing their home or storefront during this public health emergency, and now relief is here," Faulconer said. "The temporary eviction moratorium is accompanied by millions of dollars to help small businesses stay afloat and keep San Diegans employed. I applaud the city council, city attorney and city staff for taking quick action to help our community." — City News Service

County Officials Reiterate Need For Community Commitment To Social Distancing, Hygiene

– 2:30 p.m., March 25, 2020

San Diego County officials on Wednesday reiterated the importance of community commitment to the county's COVID-19 guidelines regarding social distancing, isolation and hygiene.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that things are expected to get worse and that the county is expecting more cases and more deaths in the coming weeks.

"The actions that we're taking will mitigate that," Fletcher added.

County epidemiologist Dr. Eric McDonald said that moving forward, the county will no longer include non-county residents in the county's official case count. — Chris Underwood, web producer

Right now, about 20% of all local COVID-19 cases required hospitalization, 9% required intensive care, and about 1% of patients have died, McDonald said.

The county has received about 30% of the medical supplies the county has been asked for from the state of California, said Robert Sills, the head of San Diego County's Public Health Preparedness and Response(PHPR) Branch.

The county has made another request for more equipment and that right now, they are prioritizing equipment for healthcare workers who are actively assessing and treating patents, as well as first responders transporting patients.

Currently, 50% of the county's supply of ventilators are available for use. The county has placed orders with manufacturers for more ventilators, but Stills admits that at this time, it's unknown if there are enough ventilators without knowing how many cases the county will see. – Chris Underwood, web producer

Newsom Announces Mortgage Relief For Californians Affected By COVID-19

– 12:45 p.m., March 25, 2020

Four of the five major national banks have agreed to a 90-day forbearance on mortgage payments for those affected by COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi and JP Morgan Chase have all agreed to waive mortgage payments for 90 days. Bank of America was the only one that did not commit to the 90-day forbearance. The bank has only committed to a 30-day forbearance, Newsom said.

State-charter banks and credit unions have also agreed to the 90-day forbearance. Newsom said it is important to have a coordinated relief effort for families instead of a patchwork of relief like what happened during the housing bubble collapse in 2008.

There is no income requirement for mortgage relief, but there needs to be evidence that the homeowners have been affected by COVID-19, Newsom said. But it won’t be as laborious as it was during the housing crisis in 2008, he added.

More than 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 13. Under the stimulus package deal that was just reached, the federal government will add $600 on top of the state benefits, Newsom said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Father Joe's Testing for COVID-19 Among Homeless As It Plans Transition

– 12:03 p.m., March 25, 2020

Father Joe's Villages screened four people with flu- like symptoms at its homeless shelters, the nonprofit announced Wednesday as it discussed its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One member of a family and three single women were showing symptoms similar to coronavirus Tuesday, the organization's leaders said. Two of the individuals were sent to emergency departments and the other two were sent to self-isolation in motel rooms San Diego County has secured for that purpose.

"We are awaiting test results. It's very possible that none of these individuals have COVID-19; it is cold season," said Dr. Jeffrey Norris, Father Joe's medical director. "We have not yet seen a positive test among those experiencing homelessness. We have been following our procedure, and those showing symptoms were quickly removed from shared spaces and the spaces were sanitized."

Norris said test results after an initial swab could take three to five days. – City News Service

Civilian Employee At Navy Childcare Facility Tests Positive For COVID-19

– 10:35 a.m., March 25, 2020

A civilian employee working at the Naval Air Station North Island child development center tested positive for COVID-19, the Navy announced today.

The employee tested positive on Sunday and Navy leadership was notified on Monday.

The individual is currently at home taking precautions consistent with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Navy officials said.

Naval Base Coronado's public health emergency officer conducted a contact investigation to determine whether any staff or children may have been in close contact with the employee and possibly exposed. After careful review of the case and taking into account the employee's nearly 14-day absence from the facility since March 11, the fact that no children or employees are showing any COVID-19 symptoms and the thoroughly extensive daily sanitation standards practiced by the staff, the officer made the decision to continue operations at the North Island child development center. – City News Service

San Diego County Jury Service Suspended Through May 22

– 10:30 a.m., March 25, 2020

Prospective jurors in San Diego County are cleared from jury service through May 22 in light of the California Chief Justice's recent order suspending all state jury trials for two months to stem the spread of the coronavirus, court officials said Wednesday.

County residents summoned to appear for jury service any time between March 16 and May 22 can consider their jury service fulfilled, according to a statement from the San Diego Superior Court.

Earlier this week, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye issued an order suspending all jury trials for 60 days, in which she said recent statewide health directives and the closures of numerous institutions such as schools have made it "nearly impossible for courts to assemble juries." – City News Service

San Diego County Reports Second COVID-19 Death, Two Infant Cases

– 8:31 p.m., March 24, 2020

San Diego County officials announced Tuesday that another person has died from COVID-19.

The person who died was a 76-year-old man with underlying health issues, according to Public Health Office Dr. Wilma Wooten. The county also reported two cases of coronavirus disease in infants, a 6-week-old boy and a 4-month-old girl. Both are currently isolated in their homes.

Wooten said cases are increasing daily and that she doesn't expect things to get better anytime soon.

“Things are likely to get worse before they get better. We do not believe that the local wave of COVID-19 cases has yet crested,” said Wooten. “It’s incumbent upon on all of us to do our part to flatten the curve.”

County officials reiterated the importance of continuing social distancing and isolation as a way to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus.

Separately, officials also commented on the county's policy towards retail gun stores.

Sheriff Bill Gore stated they can remain in operation for now, but that walk-in customers are prohibited. Customers will need to make appointments with retailers in advance to purchase firearms or ammunition. Gore said this is in accordance with the county's health order on social distancing to prevent groups or gatherings.

Gore said that the sheriff's department wants people to engage in voluntary social distancing versus the department having to enforce it on the public. However, if necessary, the department is prepared to issue citations, such as fines up to $1,000 or jail time up to 6 months.

"While we must be mindful of the governor’s executive order we also need to ensure that we do not create further public safety risks by driving firearms into an underground or off books black market," Gore said.

So far, no citations have been issued, according to Gore.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher also reiterated the county's efforts to support local business and residents by imposing a moratorium on evictions for renters. He also said that the county has received its first shipment of medical supplies from the state.

Also, Fletcher said that about $950,000 has been granted out from the county emergency fund to individuals who are in need of financial assistance. — Chris Underwood, web producer

San Diego Unified To Close Schools Indefinitely, Launch Online Learning

– 7:30 p.m., March 24, 2020

San Diego Unified School District announced late Tuesday that school facilities will remain indefinitely closed during the coronavirus pandemic until public health officials determine it is safe for students to return to school.

It also announced a “soft launch” of online instruction on April 6, when schools were originally planned to reopen. Teachers will begin online instruction and determine which of its more than 100,000 students are unable to participate.

On April 27, the district will officially move to formal instruction and grading but schools will remain closed.

San Diego Unified, in a joint decision with Los Angeles Unified, closed all of its more than 200 schools on March 16. Other school districts across the county followed suit. have. — Joe Hong, Education Reporter.

City Of San Diego Gives Update On COVID-19 Outbreak

– 4:30 P.M., March 24, 2020

Watch the news conference below:

San Diego Mayor Faulconer announced Tuesday the city has moved homeless families who had been staying at Golden Hall into hotel rooms to make room for single homeless women from the city's bridge shelters.

Also, Faulconer said that the city is moving towards passing a moratorium on evictions in the city of San Diego, similar to a county ordinance announced the same day. In addition, the city is working to prepare an economic relief package for businesses and residents financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Supervisors OK Moratorium on Evictions For Residents, Small Businesses

– 1:51 p.m., March 24, 2020

The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a moratorium on evictions for both residents and small businesses located in the unincorporated area in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The policy, which was put forward in a resolution sponsored by Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Kristin Gaspar, will give authority to the county's chief administrative officer to work with financial institutions to halt foreclosures and foreclosure-related evictions; and allow the county Housing Authority to extend the deadline for recipients, including those who receive Section 8 support.

The protections are provided retroactively to March 4, when Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency over the pandemic.

Fletcher said the resolution "is a prudent step to protect folks in a period of economic distress."

– City News Service

UCSD Health Starts Antiviral Drug Trials For COVID-19

– 11:50 a.m., March 24

UC San Diego Health along with three other UC Health medical centers are launching clinical trials for antiviral drug treatment for COVID-19, the university announced Tuesday.

"Physician-scientists at four University of California Health medical centers — UC San Diego Health, UC San Francisco, UC Irvine Health and UC Davis Health — have begun recruiting participants for a Phase II clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of treating adult patients with COVID-19 with remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has shown activity in animal models and human clinical trials of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, Ebola, Marburg and other viruses," UCSD said in a statement.

The drug, remdesivir, has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment, but it's undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of multiple viral diseases, including COVID-19.

The trials are set to begin with small groups of participants, all of whom will be patients hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19. They also have to be patients in the UC Health system.

“Due to the evolving, fluid nature of this research and what we’re learning daily about the virus and about improving treatment, the trial is designed to be adaptive, to shift investigation to the most promising avenues,” said co-principal investigator Dr. Constance Benson, professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health.

The trial will run through April 1, 2023, and will involve an estimated 440 participants. — Chris Underwood, web producer

San Diego Hospitals Launching Drives For Personal Protective Equipment

– 10:40 a.m., March 24

UC San Diego Health launched a donation website Tuesday to help those on the front lines in the fight against novel coronavirus, joining other hospitals and health organizations as they manage limited supplies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained daily life across communities, countries and continents, but has particularly impacted the health care industry, according to a UC San Diego Health statement. County health officials have acknowledged some shortfalls on supplies, while other supplies have a deep reservoir from which to draw.

Photo caption:

Photo by Bennett Lacy

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

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

– 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 23

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

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

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

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

Gov. Newsom Closes State Parks, And Beaches

– 3:30 p.m., Monday, March 23

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

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

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

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

– 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 23

Watch the news conference live here:

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

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

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

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

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

– 11:30 a.m., Monday, March 23

Watch the news conference live here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Diego County Announces First Corona-Related Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Makes ‘Major Disaster Declaration’ For California

3:22 p.m. Sunday, March 22

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

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

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

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

City Of San Diego Closing Park And Beach Parking Lots

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH: San Diego County To Give Updates On Coronavirus Pandemic

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

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

Watch Live:

Coronado Naval Base Sailor Tests Positive For COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Diego County COVID-19 Cases Rise to 159

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

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

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

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

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

Confirmed Cases by City of Residence Report (updated weekly)

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

Some San Diego Jail Inmates May Be Released Early

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

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

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

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

Other actions the district attorney said are being taken include:

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

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

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

-City News Service

Rancho Santa Fe Resort To Close For A Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Council Candidate Tests Positive For Coronavirus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over 1.2 million N95 and surgical masks

Over 130,000 surgical gowns

Over 470,000 gloves

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

30 million N95 and surgical masks

10,000 ventilators

2 million swabs

200,000 RNA extraction kits

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

UC San Diego, Manufacturers Increase COVID-19 Testing Capacity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus National Roundup

12 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

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

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

Coronavirus International Roundup

12 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

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

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

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

SDSU Postpones Graduations, Planning Virtual Ceremonies

11 a.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus Cases In San Diego Rise To 131

6 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus In ‘Every Municipality” In The County: Wooten

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

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

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

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

However, the county did release the breakdown by city:

Photo credit: County of San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6th San Diego Based Sailor Tests Positive For Coronavirus

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

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

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

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

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

US And Mexico To Curb Border Travel To Control Coronavirus

9 a.m., March 20, 2020

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

Chula Vista Councilman In Hospital After Coronavirus Symptoms Worsen

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

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

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

Photo by Courtesy photo

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

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

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

8 p.m., March 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

Governor Gavin Newsom Issues Statewide 'Stay-In' Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayor Asks San Diegans To Lend Helping Hand During Pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North County Transit District Reduces Service Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

– 3:37 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

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

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

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

Weekend COASTER Service:

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

Weekday COASTER Service:

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

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

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

– 3:30 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some San Diego Shelters Again Open To New Homeless People

– 12 p.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Diego County Closes Libraries, Cancels Curb Side Pickup

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Prompts Closure Of Fashion Valley, Premium Outlets

– 8:47 a.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

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

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

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

Fitness Centers Close, Childcare Restrictions Take Effect

– 6:13 a.m., Thursday, March 19, 2020

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

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

San Diego Based Hospital Ship To Respond To Coronavirus Pandemic

– 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo caption:

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

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

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

– 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Read more here

Photo caption:

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0-17: 0 cases

18-64: 47 cases

65+:13 cases

Read more here

Photo caption:

Photo by Matthew Bowler

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

Trump Administration Prepares To Close Border To Asylum-Seekers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo caption:

Photo by Zoë Meyers / inewsource

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Cody Dulaney, inewsource

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

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

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

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

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

–Medi-Cal health coverage

–CalFresh food assistance

–CalWORKS

–Cash Assistance for Immigrants; and

–In-Home Supportive Services

USD, SDSU Ask To Move Out Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

– 8:42 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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

– 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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

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

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

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

Read more here

San Diego City Council Passes Moratorium On Evictions

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

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

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

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

City Council President Georgette Gomez echos that sentiment.

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

Read more here

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

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

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

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

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

Read more here

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

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

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

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

All bathrooms in the city parks are also closed.

Photo caption:

Photo by Andi Dukleth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California Confirms More Than 500 COVID-19 Cases

11 A.M., March 17, 2020

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

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

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

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

Mayor Faulconer Closes Bars, Clubs To Slow Spread Of Virus

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo caption:

Photo by Bennett Lacy

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

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

3 P.M., March 16, 2020

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

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

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

The order goes into effect at midnight.

The complete orders are:

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

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

Read more here

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Matthew Bowler

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

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

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

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

The Metropolitan Correctional Center holds about 1,000 inmates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cancelled until further notice.

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

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

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

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

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

Encinitas Union School District Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

Sailor Aboard USS Boxer Test Positive For Coronavirus

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

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

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

Chula Vista Suspends Operations Except Public Safetys

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

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

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

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

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

Read more here

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

Harrah's Resort To Close For Two Weeks

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

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

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

Read more here

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

North County Firefighters To Suspend Most Public Interactions

Photo credit: Cal Fire San Diego

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

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

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