WATCH: Gov. Newsom Gives Updates On Coronavirus Response
Friday, May 29, 2020
This is a breaking news blog for all of the latest updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Get our complete coronavirus coverage here →
WATCH: Gov. Newsom Gives Updates On Coronavirus Response
– 12 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020
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– 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020
Taxable sales in the San Diego region were down nearly $2.3 billion in March, according to a San Diego Association of Governments report released Thursday.
The new SANDAG report, "COVID-19 Impact on the San Diego Regional Economy: Consumer Spending," estimates the region's taxable sales went from an average of $5.3 billion each month prior to March 15, down to nearly $3 billion in April. That represents a decrease of about 44% or roughly $2.3 billion.
"Our Chief Economist Ray Major and his team are working around the clock to support local elected officials and other decision-makers with relevant data and analysis to manage this pandemic," said SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata. "These reports have been essential tools to determine next steps in the region's economic road to recovery."
The report estimates the largest losses in taxable sales are to apparel stores, down 83%, and restaurants, down 67%.
Businesses that remained open and fared well during this time frame were food markets and big-box retail stores such as Costco, Target and Walmart. — City News Service
6 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020
Beginning Monday, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train service sidelined by the COVID-19 crisis will be partially restored to Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo, rail officials announced Thursday.
Next week's adjustments will be the first step to restoring full operation of the line, bringing back service along 100 miles of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo coastal rail corridor, known as LOSSAN.
A temporarily reduced Pacific Surfliner schedule went into effect March 23 in response to shelter-in-place orders implemented by local municipalities and the state due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some trains and bus connections have continued to operate as authorized essential services, providing options for those who must travel. Those connections have been especially important for the San Luis Obispo region, since a portion of its airline service has been suspended, according to the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency. — City News Service
Mayor Faulconer Announces Expansion Of Slow Streets Program
– 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020
Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday announced the expansion of the Slow Streets program.
The program closes streets to traffic to give residents space to walk, ride a bike while practicing social distancing. The program was tested in five neighborhoods, including North Park, Emerald Hills and Pacific Beach.
The mayor said the program will be expanded to 100 additional blocks in the city. The locations of those blocks have not been announced.
"I've been working with City Councilmembers and community leaders to identify locations that will make a great Slow Streets, but also want to hear from you," he said.
Residents can voice their opinion by at sandiego.gov/slowstreets. — Alexander Nguyen, KPBS web producer
– 4:15 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020
San Diego County's beaches can reopen Tuesday for passive uses like sitting in a beach chair and sunbathing, it was announced Thursday, continuing the county's gradual reopening even as public health officials reported 117 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths.
The newest data increases the county cumulative totals to 7,100 and 260 deaths. County health officials recorded 3,699 tests Thursday, raising the cumulative total number of tests to 147,286.
The five deceased ranged in age from 64 to 97 and all had underlying medical issues.
The 117 tests Thursday comprise 3% of the total number of tests, and the 14-day rolling average testing positive is just 3.1%, giving officials like Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, a reason to believe the region's cases have "peaked."
As a result of numbers trending in the right direction, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors Greg Cox said Thursday the county would allow beaches across the county to open for passive recreation and would allow individual jurisdictions to decide if they wanted to open the beaches for those purposes as well.
A few restrictions remain, however, as the county still has a ban on team sports like football and volleyball. Additionally, beach parking lots and piers remain closed. The reopening of boardwalks is up to each coastal city, and as always, social distancing and facial coverings are the rules when near people who aren't a member of the household. — City News Service
– 10:52 a.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020
CVS Health announced Thursday that it will open seven additional drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites across San Diego County tomorrow, as part of its goal to establish 1,000 testing locations across the country by the end of the month.
The new San Diego County sites are among 91 slated to open across California on Friday, with the ultimate goal of processing up to 1.5 million tests per month nationwide, subject to availability of supplies and lab capacity.
Patients will utilize self-swab tests in their car while monitored by pharmacy technicians, who will provide the test kit and instructions. Tests will be sent to an independent third-party lab, with results available in about three days, according to CVS Health.
Patients must register in advance at CVS.com beginning Friday to schedule an appointment.
A complete list of testing sites is available here. – City News Service
– 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced on Wednesday the city of San Diego will distribute $1 million in funding for two new arts programs through the Commission for Arts and Culture. The programs will directly support artists in San Diego while also ensuring more public art is available for San Diegans to enjoy, and are part of the city’s $1.25 million plan for emergency arts funding relief.
"Our arts community has been hit particularly hard," Faulconer said.
The two initiatives, SD Practice and Park Social will focus on creating and sharing public art and providing financial opportunities for individual local artists.
Jonathon Glus, the commission's executive director, described each of the new initiatives and the ways they can provide relief directly to artists.
Glus said that the SD Practice will add to the city's extensive civic art collection, which includes more than 800 works of art and began taking shape during the Works Progress Administration era during the Great Depression.
"SD Practice is going to allow us to build on that tradition," Glus said. — Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS arts editor
Legoland, SeaWorld Among Plan Reopening As COVID-19 Cases Rise To 6,983
– 3:45 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Representatives from SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, the U.S.S. Midway Museum and other large tourist attractions had a phone meeting with San Diego County officials Wednesday to seek permission to reopen by July 1, as the county reported 101 new COVID-19 cases and a half- dozen more deaths.
Wednesday's numbers raise the cumulative totals to 6,983 cases and 255 deaths.
The theme parks are taking steps to open for Stage 3 of Gov. Gavin Newsom's four-stage plan, and while the meeting with county officials was private, the parks announced they have moved onto an official reopening request with the state.
"LEGOLAND California Resort, The USS Midway Museum and SeaWorld San Diego reviewed its collective re-opening safety plan with county of San Diego officials today," a joint statement from the parks said. "While the attractions will all be ready to reopen on July 1 if authorized, the plan now moves on to state officials for additional review and guidance. As the San Diego attraction coalition, we were greatly appreciative to county staff for the opportunity to present our reopening plan to them today."
That plan calls for temperature and wellness checks for employees, masks for everyone entering the parks, reduced capacity inside the parks, plastic shields at food stations, a six-foot separation for entry and ride lines and regularly disinfecting common touchpoints.
The parks said Tuesday they would present county officials with these plans to reopen and ask for feedback.
David Koontz, spokesman for the Midway Museum, said the call "went very well," but did not offer any additional information.
CORRECTION: The previous version of this blog story incorrectly identified the San Diego Zoo as part of the group pushing to reopen.
– City News Service
County And Rady Children's Hospital Announce COVID-19 Testing Initiative
– 3:39 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Rady Children's Hospital and San Diego County announced a collaborative COVID-19 testing initiative Wednesday aimed at testing up to 2,000 children and their families per day.
The COVID Collaborative for Children will provide testing for Rady's young patients, as well as their parents and caregivers regardless of symptoms, county and Rady representatives said at a Wednesday morning news conference.
The testing is optional and will be provided during the patients' existing appointments, according to Rady COO Nicholas Holmes. Children who appear at Rady's urgent care or emergency care departments will also be offered the test regardless of their purpose for visiting. – City News Service
– 6:29 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020
A recently renovated Super 8 motel in South San Diego will be available as temporary housing for homeless families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday.
While nearly 1,300 homeless individuals are being housed at the San Diego Convention Center, homeless families have been moved to motel rooms through the county's Regional Task Force on the Homeless, a city official said.
The motel on Palm Avenue in the Egger Highlands community was originally intended for the City Attorney's Office's San Diego Misdemeanants At Risk Track Program for repeat misdemeanor offenders with drug addiction.
Faulconer said plans to use the site for the SMART Program "are on hold for the moment because there's nothing that takes precedence right now more than our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."
The motel is making available 42 units, shared kitchen and communal spaces, a fitness room, laundry facilities and more.— City News Service
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–3:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020
San Diego County health officials reported 85 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, raising the county total to 6,882 cases. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 249 for the third day in a row.
The number of cumulative reported tests rose by 3,908 to more than 140,000. The 85 latest cases represent 2% of the total tests, dropping the county's rolling 14-day average to just around 3%.
San Diego County's public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, said the data showed "it appears we may have peaked." She said the next 21 days would represent another litmus test for the county's handle on the illness, with reopenings Tuesday and Wednesday and a several week-long incubation period for the illness to follow.
Wooten urged residents to remain vigilant but said things were looking better and better for the region. — City News Service
– 1 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020
In an announcement that will delight shaggy-haired residents statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday cleared the way for barbershops and hair salons to open in counties that have been cleared to move deeper into California's reopening roadmap, including Orange County.
As of Tuesday, 47 of the state's 58 counties — including San Diego — have been granted those variances, which are based on criteria such as the rate coronavirus infections and deaths and availability of testing and contact-tracing.
The variances allow counties to move deeper into Stage 2 of the state's reopening roadmap, most notably allowing the resumption of limited dine-in service at restaurants and in-person shopping at retail establishments.
"Along those lines, they (counties) will be able to add in barbershops and hair salons to those regional variations starting today," Newsom said, adding that the businesses will have to operate with substantial safety modifications. — City News Service
No Additional COVID-19 Deaths Reported on Memorial Day
- 5:18 p.m., Monday, May 25, 2020
The county released this update on Monday evening:
Of 3,700 tests reported to the County yesterday, Sunday, May 24, 2020, 3% were positive new cases.
The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests, shown in the first attached chart, is 3.2%, which meets one of the key metrics monitored by the County.
San Diego County resident total cases are now at 6,797, an increase from yesterday of 96.
1,244 or 18.3% of cases have required hospitalization.
370 or 5.4% of all cases and 29.7% of all hospitalizations had to be placed in intensive care.
No additional local deaths due to COVID-19 have been reported Monday. The countywide total remains at 249. — San Diego County
- 3:35 p.m., Monday, May 25, 2020
The California Department of Public Health on Monday announced the statewide reopening of in-store retail shopping, a major step in California's emergence from shutdown orders issued in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The retail guidance for in-person shopping that is already in place for certain counties, including San Diego, now applies statewide, officials said.
Retail does not include personal services such as hair salons, nail salons and barbershops.
Monday's announcement came as Gov. Gavin Newsom released guidelines for resuming in-person services at churches and other houses of worship. — City News Service
– 12:20 p.m., Monday, May 25, 2020
California says churches can resume in-person services but the congregations will be limited to less than 100 and worshippers should wear masks, avoid sharing prayer books and skip the collection plate.
The state Department of Public Health released a framework Monday for county health officials to permit houses of worship to reopen. Most have been limited to online and remote services since March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order took effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
With progress being made, Newsom has been relaxing those restrictions for restaurants, stores and other businesses.
Several thousand churches had vowed to defy Newsom’s order on May 31, which is Pentacost Sunday, a major holiday for many Christians. — Associated Press
– 11:50 a.m., Monday, May 25, 2020
Barona Resort and Casino announced their reopening plan today, which welcomes patrons back to the casino on Wednesday after a two-month closure due the coronavirus pandemic, casino officials said. Barona Resort and Casino is the eighth tribal casino to restart operation in San Diego County.
Barona's first phase of re-opening will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Table games will be limited to a maximum of three players per table and every other slot machine will be turned off to further encourage space between players.
Patrons and staff will be screened for high temperatures and symptoms of the novel coronavirus before entry, a casino report said. All will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing. – City News Service
142 More COVID-19 Cases Reported In San Diego County
– 5:45 p.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020
San Diego County on Sunday reported another 142 cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 6,701 cases and deaths remaining at 249.
The total number of cases requiring hospitalization is 1,232 and cases requiring intensive care are 369, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported.
Of the 4,548 tests reported to the county Saturday, 3% were positive new cases.
The estimated number of recovered COVID-19 patients is 4,677, the agency said.
The 14-day rolling-average percentage of new positive cases among county residents is 3.3%. — City News Service
San Diego Archdiocese Looking To Have In-Person Services In June
– 1:35 p.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020
Some 1.3 million Roman Catholics in the San Diego County diocese are being invited to attend in-person Masses as early June 8 after closing for COVID-19 in mid-March, church officials said this weekend.
Parishes may adopt different logistics, such as indoors, outdoors or a hybrid.
The announcement comes as churches statewide looked forward to guidance Monday from Gov. Gavin Newsom on how they can reopen.
"After a great deal of discussion, we concluded that the first weekend for the public celebration of the Eucharist in our parishes should be the feast of Corpus Christi, June fourteenth," Bishop Robert McElroy said in a letter written Friday and posted Saturday on a private Facebook group. "This seems a beautifully symbolic and joyful feast in which to bring together anew our Eucharistic communities."
But McElroy said a weekday opening has been suggested. Full story here. – City News Service
Some Major San Diego Malls Reopened This Weekend; Others Reopen Next Week
– 8:35 a.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020
Some major shopping malls in the San Diego area reopened Saturday amid easing COVID-19 restrictions while others will reopen next week.
Simon Property Group reopened Fashion Valley Mall at 7007 Friars Road, Las Americas Premium Outlets at 4211 Camino De La Plaza and Carlsbad Premium Outlets at 5620 Paseo Del Norte.
Simon's website details the group's COVID-19 protocols including taking the temperatures of employees when they report to work, separating desks and workstations by at least six feet or putting a barrier between them, requiring face masks, frequent breaks for hand washing and enhanced sanitizing and disinfecting.
Westfield shopping malls in San Diego, La Jolla and Mission Valley are scheduled to reopen Friday. – City News Service
City Urges Public To Follow Health Precautions During Memorial Day Weekend
– 8:25 a.m., Sunday, May 24, 2020
San Diego city leaders are urging residents to continue obeying orders regarding COVID-19 precautions during the Memorial Day weekend amid concerns of violations by businesses and the public.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said that Thursday, the county's first day back to in-person dining and in-store retail was largely a success, though one Pacific Beach restaurant and bar made headlines when videos and pictures shared over social media showed large groups of patrons standing in close quarters without masks.
The restaurant, El Prez, was shut down Friday by county officials as a result. San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the restaurant would "remain closed until further notice" for violations of the public health order.
Faulconer issued a warning to business owners, saying "The same thing will happen to any businesses that operate with a flagrant disregard for the safety of others." Read the full story here. – City News Service
San Diego County Reports 3% Positive Testing Rate With 125 New Cases, 7 New Deaths
– 2:20 p.m., Saturday, May 23, 2020
San Diego County health officials announced 3,795 new tests reported on Friday. Of those, 125, or 3%, were positive cases for a 14-day rolling average positive rate of 3.4%.
The total positive cases for San Diego County residents is now 6,559; 1,224 (18.7%) required hospitalization and 369 (5.6%) went to intensive care.
Seven new deaths were reported, for a total of 249 deaths in the region. – KPBS Staff
San Diegans Head To Beaches At Start of Memorial Day Weekend
– 2:20 p.m., Saturday, May 23, 2020
As San Diegans headed for area beaches on the start of the Memorial Day weekend, Lifeguard Services officials said beachgoers seemed to be following county health guidelines issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, it was still early to gauge crowd estimates at all coastal beaches, but at La Jolla beaches, it was a "pretty routine" day, according to Marine Safety Lt. Maureen Hodges of Lifeguard Services.
"Lifeguards made some rescues," Hodges said. "But so far, we're off to a good start here in La Jolla."
Lifeguards were focusing on water safety and making sure runners and walkers kept moving on the sand, Hodges said. She encouraged beachgoers to come to the beach, get their exercising in, then leave.
"We want all San Diegans and visitors to enjoy our beaches," Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said Friday. "However, the public health rules that are in place must be followed this weekend. We expect a lot of visitors and will work closely with our partners at San Diego Police Department to make sure everyone stays safe."
The rules for beaches and shorelines state that only walking and running are allowed. "No stopping, sitting or lying down," the rules state.
In the ocean, only swimming, surfing, kayaking and single-person paddling are allowed.
In San Diego bays, single-household recreational boating is allowed, along with fishing, but not from the shoreline. No swimming on the bay and Mission Bay Park.
Boardwalks, piers, parking lots and Fiesta Island are closed.
Gatherings and non-physical distancing activities are not allowed anywhere.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday asked San Diegans to "follow public health rules that keep us safe."
"We've all worked so hard, so let's enjoy our progress but not give up the gains we've made," Faulconer said. – City News Service
Bars, Wineries Allowed To Serve Alcoholic Drinks To Go, With Food
– 11:50 a.m., Saturday, May 23, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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
– 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.
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
– 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
– 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.
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
– 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
— 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
– 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.
"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
– 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
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.
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
– 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
– 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
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