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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

March 2021: 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.

San Diego County Reports 290 New COVID-19 Cases

– 6:10 p.m., Wednesday, March 31, 2021

San Diego County reported 290 new COVID-19 cases today increasing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 270,287.

An updated death toll was not announced because of Cesar Chavez Day.

More than 1.73 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to San Diego County, according to the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency and more than 1.64 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to everyone in California age 50 and older beginning Thursday, then everyone age 16 and up on April 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last Thursday. — KPBS Staff

Pfizer Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Younger Teens

– 11:52 p.m., Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12.

The announcement Wednesday marks a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before the next school year.

Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus.

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic.

In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots. — Associated Press

San Diego Reports 290 New COVID-19 Cases, Impacting Some Asylum Seekers

– 4:17 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, 2021

San Diego County reported 290 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and a slight uptick in the number of county residents hospitalized with the coronavirus.

According to San Diego County Health and Human Services data, hospitalizations increased to 198 from the previous day's 190. Of those, 68 were being treated in intensive care units, unchanged from Sunday's count.

The latest infections increased the county's cumulative caseload to 269,770, about 19% of county residents. The death count remained unchanged at 3,547.

Of 6,676 tests reported Monday, 4% returned positive.

Among those who tested positive this week were 70 teenage asylum seekers being housed in the San Diego Convention Center, a U.S. Health and Human Services representative announced. — City News Service

70 Migrant Teens At Convention Center Test Positive For Coronavirus

– 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Several dozen of the teenage asylum seekers being housed in the San Diego Convention Center have tested positive for COVID-19, a U.S. Health and Human Services representative announced.

More than 500 asylum seekers, all girls between 13 and 17 years old, have been transferred to San Diego from a U.S. Border Patrol facility in Texas. As of Tuesday, 70 had tested positive — including 59 from pre-transfer screenings, another six since arriving in San Diego and five girls who were exposed texted positive Sunday.

An HHS spokesperson said none of those cases is serious, though all of the teens are symptomatic.

The asylum seekers are separated into pods of about 50, which won't intermingle. HHS Acting Regional Director Bonnie Preston said Monday that the girls who tested positive are being sheltered away from the rest of the migrant teens under COVID-19 protocols. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 290 COVID-19 Cases, As Migrants Test Positive

– 7:24 p.m., Monday, March 29, 2021

Several dozen of the teenage asylum seekers being housed in the San Diego Convention Center have tested positive for COVID-19, a U.S. Health and Human Services representative announced Monday, while local public health officials reported 290 new infections among county residents and an uptick in hospitalizations.

More than 500 asylum seekers, all girls between 13 and 17 years old, were transferred to San Diego from a Border Patrol facility in Texas. As of Monday, 33 have tested positive — including 27 from pre-transfer screenings and another six since arriving in San Diego.

None of the cases are serious, according to the HHS, and all of the teens are symptomatic at this time.

The asylum seekers are separated into pods of about 50, which won't intermingle. HHS Acting Regional Director Bonnie Preston said the girls who tested positive are being sheltered away from the rest of the migrant teens under COVID-19 protocols.

Around 250 more teens were scheduled to be flown into San Diego on Monday, for a total of around 750 youths held at the San Diego Convention Center.

According to San Diego County Health and Human Services data released Monday, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations

increased to 198, from the previous day's 190. Of those, 68 were being treated in intensive care units, unchanged from Sunday's count.

The latest infections reported by the HHSA increases the county's cumulative caseload to 269,770. The death count remained unchanged at 3,547. – City News Service

33 Migrant Children Seeking Asylum Test Positive For COVID-19

– 5:00 p.m., Monday, March 29, 2021

More than 30 of the more than 500 unaccompanied migrant children being held at the San Diego Convention Center, girls between the ages of 13 and 17, have tested positive for COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today.

At least 27 of the girls, who were transferred to California from a Border Patrol facility in Texas this weekend, tested positive for the virus. HHS Acting Regional Director Bonnie Preston said the cases stem from the Texas facility.

Another six girls tested positive after taking rapid tests while at the convention center. None of the cases are serious, according to the HHS, and all are symptomatic at this time.

The asylum seekers are separated into pods of about 50, which won't intermingle.

Preston said the girls who tested positive are being sheltered away from the rest of the migrant girls under COVID-19 protocol. – City News Service

Del Mar Vaccination Super Station Closing Temporarily Closing

– 2:55 p.m., Monday, March 29, 2021

The Scripps Del Mar Fairgrounds Vaccination Super Station will be closed March 31, April 3 and April 4 due to the low number of COVID-19 vaccine doses that were delivered to Scripps Health last week.

KPBS Tracker: Vaccines In San Diego County

Patients with appointments those days should have their appointments automatically rescheduled via the MyTurn online appointment system, said Scripps in a statement. – KPBS Staff

Americans Declaring Victory Against Virus Too Early, Biden Says

– 1:38 p.m., Monday, Marcy 29, 2021

Too many Americans are declaring virus victory too early, President Joe Biden and a top health official declared Monday, appealing for mask requirements and other restrictions to be maintained or restored to stave off a “fourth surge" of COVID-19. The head of the CDC said she had a feeling of “impending doom” if people keep easing off.

The double dose of warnings came even as Biden laid out hopeful new steps to expand coronavirus vaccinations, with all adults to become eligible over the next 5 weeks. Biden announced plans to expand the number of retail pharmacies that are administering vaccines, and investments to help Americans get to vaccination sites. But the optimism was tempered by stark warnings about the potential for another wave of cases.

“This is deadly serious,” Biden said, urging governors to reinstate mask mandates and other restrictions that some states have been easing.

Hours earlier, during a virtual White House health briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, grew emotional as she reflected on her experience treating COVID-19 patients who are alone at the end of their lives.

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope," she said. "But right now, I’m scared.” — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 205 COVID-19 Cases, 7 Deaths

– 5:10 p.m., Sunday, March 28, 2021

San Diego County is reporting 205 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 269,480 and the death toll to 3,547.

Of 13,216 tests reported Sunday, 2% returned positive.

The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the county decreased Saturday to 180, from the previous day's 197. Of those, 59 were in intensive care units, down from Thursday's 70.

There were two community outbreaks reported Sunday, with 54 cases associated with those outbreaks. There have been 14 community outbreaks over the past seven days.

More than 1.66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to San Diego County, according to the county's Health and Human Services Agency, and more than 1.57 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

The HHSA on Sunday reported 885,647 people — or 32.9% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines, and 537,245 people — or 20% — have been fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to everyone in the state age 50 and older beginning April 1, then to everyone age 16 and up on April 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 226 COVID-19 Cases, 15 Deaths

– 5:00 p.m., Saturday, March 27, 2021

San Diego County is reporting 226 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths.

Saturday's data from the Health and Human Service Agency increased the county's cumulative totals to 269,275 cases and 3,540 deaths.

Of 11,937 tests reported Saturday, 2% returned positive.

The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the county decreased Saturday to 180, from the previous day's 197. Of those, 59 were in intensive care units, down from Thursday's 70.

There were no community outbreaks reported Saturday. There have been 16 community outbreaks over the last seven days.

More than 1.66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to San Diego County, according to the county's Health and Human Services Agency, and more than 1.57 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

The HHSA on Saturday reported 869,504 people — or 32.3% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines, and 527,691 people — or 19.6% — have been fully vaccinated. — City News Service

Three New Vaccine Sites Opening Next Week As County Reports 422 COVID-19 Cases

– 6:25 p.m., Friday, March 26, 2021

Three new COVID-19 vaccination sites will open next week, San Diego County public health officials announced Friday, as they reported 422 new infections and five deaths.

A clinic will begin administering vaccines from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the North Inland First United Methodist Church, 341 Kalmia St. in Escondido. Appointments are required for the walk-through clinic which will have the capacity to vaccinate 250 people daily.

Starting Tuesday, vaccinations will be administered from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, at the Mountain View Educational Cultural Complex, 4343 Ocean Blvd. in Southeastern San Diego. The appointment-based walk- up clinic will have the capacity to administer 500 doses initially but can ramp up to 1,000 each day. The new clinic replaces the Central Region Immunization Clinic at 3177 Ocean View Blvd., which had a capacity of 100 vaccinations each day.

COVID-19 vaccines will also be available on Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at a one-day, walk-up, no-appointment clinic at the Sherman Heights Community Center, 2258 Island Ave. A total of 300 doses will be administered that day on a first-come, first-served basis exclusively to residents of the 92102 and 92113 ZIP codes. Proof of residence such as a driver's license or utility bill will be required. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 210 COVID-19 Cases, 11 Deaths

– 6:52 p.m., Thursday, March 25, 2021

COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to everyone in the state aged 50 and older beginning April 1, then to everyone aged 16 and up on April 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday, as San Diego County public health officials reported 210 new infections and 11 deaths.

Of 17,596 tests reported Thursday, 1% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 2.5%.

The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the county decreased Thursday to 217, from the previous day's 227. Of those, 75 were in intensive care units, down from Wednesday's 82.

While San Diego County remains in the red tier of the state's four- tiered reopening blueprint, Fletcher explained three possible ways the county could move into the orange tier, which would allow for additional business openings and increased attendance limits. – City News Service

Gov. Newsom: All Adults Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine April 15

– 11:20 a.m., Thursday, March 25, 2021

Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will extend COVID-19 vaccine eligibility on April 1 to everyone aged 50 and older, then to everyone aged 16 and older on April 15.

The news comes as President Joe Biden doubled his original goal on COVID-19 vaccines by pledging that the nation will administer 200 million doses by the end of his first 100 days in office. The administration had met Biden's initial goal of 100 million doses earlier this month — before even his 60th day in office — as the president pushes to defeat a pandemic that has killed more than 545,000 Americans and devastated the nation's economy. – City News Service, Associated Press

Brazilian Virus Variant Found In San Diego

– 4:17 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The number of COVID-19 vaccines arriving in San Diego County will increase by around 10% for the second consecutive week, county officials announced Wednesday, as two new cases of the Brazilian variant of the illness were reported in the county.

The new strain of the virus first discovered in Brazil may be more effective in resisting vaccines, said Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the county Health and Human Services Agency's Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch. He added that it's not clear if the variant makes symptoms of COVID-19 more severe or makes the virus more easily transmissible.

One case was reported in a resident with no travel history and one in a non-resident who had traveled overseas. Neither was vaccinated and neither has been hospitalized.

"This virus evolved all the time," McDonald said Wednesday. "We just need to be more vigilant about all the things we are already doing."

He said it was possible that a vaccine booster shot to deal with the Brazil, South African and U.K. variants — as well as any other mutations — could be possible in the future. — City News Service

Masks And Gloves Are Saving Lives — And Causing Pollution

– 4:04 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Disposable masks, gloves and other types of personal protective equipment are safeguarding untold lives during the coronavirus pandemic. They're also creating a worldwide pollution problem, littering streets and sending an influx of harmful plastic and other waste into landfills, sewage systems and oceans.

In Northern California, environmental groups are tracking the issue along the coast — and trying to do something about it.

The Pacific Beach Coalition recently noticed a dramatic increase in discarded PPE on beaches in and around the city of Pacifica, south of San Francisco, where it's been doing monthly cleanups for nearly 25 years.

Volunteers record what they pick up to gauge what might end up in the ocean. Until 2020, the litter was mostly cigarette butts and food wrappers. — Associated Press

San Diego County Inching Toward Orange Tier

– 6:12 p.m., Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The county Health and Human Services Agency announced 243 new COVID-19 infections and four deaths Tuesday, raising the cumulative totals to 268,160 cases and 3,498.

State numbers released Tuesday kept San Diego County firmly in the red tier of the state's four-tiered reopening blueprint, with an adjusted daily case rate of 5.5 new infections per 100,000 people.

The testing positivity is 2.4% and the county's health equity metric — which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions — is 3.4%, both in the orange tier. — City News Service

Small Risk Still Exists To Catch COVID-19 After Vaccines, UCSD, UCLA Find

– 11:26 a.m., Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Although the risk is tiny, infection from the virus causing COVID-19 after receiving vaccines is possible, a report published by a team of investigators revealed today.

In a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine published Tuesday, a group of researchers from UC San Diego School of Medicine and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA report COVID-19 infection rates for a cohort of health care workers previously vaccinated for the novel coronavirus.

"Because of the compulsory daily symptom screening of health care personnel, patients and visitors, and the high testing capacity at both UC San Diego Health and UCLA Health, we were able to identify symptomatic and asymptomatic infections among health care workers at our institutions," said co-author Dr. Jocelyn Keehner, an infectious disease fellow at UCSD.

"Moreover, we were able to describe the infection rates in a real- world scenario, where vaccine roll-out coincided with a surge of infections. We observed a low overall positivity rate among fully immunized health care workers, supporting the high protection rates of these vaccines," Keehner continued.

The authors looked at pooled data from UCSD and UCLA health care workers who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines between Dec. 16, 2020 and Feb. 9 — including 36,659 first doses, 28,184 second doses — a period that coincided with a significant surge in COVID-19 infections in the region.

Within this group, 379 individuals tested positive for the virus at least one day following vaccination, with the majority — 71% — testing positive within the first two weeks after the first dose. Of the group, 37 health care workers tested positive after receiving two doses, which is when maximum immune protection is expected to be achieved with both vaccines.

The authors estimate absolute risk of testing positive for the virus following vaccination was 1.19% for health care workers at UCSD Health and 0.97% at UCLA Health — both higher than the risk identified in the Moderna and Pfizer clinical trials, which were not limited to health care workers. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 189 New COVID-19 Cases

– 5:14 p.m., Monday, March 22, 2021

San Diego County officials reported 189 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the cumulative number of coronavirus cases to 267,917. No deaths were reported Monday and the death count remained 3,494.

Of 4,928 tests reported Monday, 4% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests is 2.9%.

The number of hospitalizations dropped to 226 from Sunday's 249. Of those, 84 were in intensive care units, a drop of nine from Sunday's 93. — City News Service

County Opens New Vaccination Site At San Diego State

– 12:04 p.m., Monday, March 22, 2021

Beginning Tuesday, anyone eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in San Diego County will be able to book an appointment at a new county-operated site opening at San Diego State University's Viejas Arena.

Through a partnership between SDSU and the county, Viejas Arena will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointment availability depends on vaccine supply, which remains limited across the state and nation.

"SDSU and the County of San Diego have a long-standing and strong partnership working together to address pressing public health issues in our region," SDSU President Adela de la Torre said. "Our teams are both attentive to the need to expand vaccine access, and Viejas Arena is a convenient location for both our campus and the public."

The university, in partnership with the county's Health and Human Services Agency, also is working to expand the existing community health worker program, which focuses on testing and vaccine outreach across San Diego County's most underserved communities.

"Together, we have already expanded access to COVID-19 testing, sustained a project that is improving contact tracing efforts, and also are offering direct support to those who speak languages other than English," de la Torre said. "These collaborative efforts have direct and positive impacts on the daily lives of our community." — City News Service

AstraZeneca: US Data Shows Vaccine Effective For All Adults

– 11:56 a.m., Monday, March 22, 2021

AstraZeneca says that its COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection among all adults in a long-anticipated U.S. study.

The results raised hopes that the findings could help rebuild public confidence in the beleaguered shot in other countries and were a step toward clearance for American use.

AstraZeneca said Monday the vaccine was 79% effective overall at preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 — including in older people — and that none of the study volunteers who were vaccinated were hospitalized or developed severe disease.

The company also said its experts did not identify any safety concerns related to the vaccine, including finding no increased risk of rare blood clots identified in Europe. — Associated Press

County Plans New COVID-19 Vaccination Site At SDSU's Viejas Arena

– 5:50 p.m., Sunday, March 21, 2021

San Diego State University officials announced Sunday that county officials have approved a COVID-19 vaccination site at the school's Viejas Arena. The new site is set to open on Tuesday, March 23.

In an email to students and staff, SDSU officials said the site will operate Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Vaccine appointments must be made through the county’s website.

"While vaccine supply remains limited across the state, the county’s plan is to open the site offering 200 second doses the first day, with a plan to scale up to 750 first and second doses on the second day, dependent on vaccine supply," the email said. "The county’s ultimate goal is to offer a total of 1,500 doses each day at Viejas Arena to members of our regional community." – KPBS Staff

County Reports 192 New COVID-19 Cases, 2 Deaths

– 5:25 p.m., Sunday, March 21, 2021

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported 192 new COVID-19 infections and two deaths Sunday.

Health officials on Sunday reported 797,640 — or 29.7% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and 495,175 people — or 18.4% — have been fully vaccinated.

Nearly 1.44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to the region and more than 1.4 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

The latest statistics from the county Sunday brought the cumulative number of coronavirus cases to 267,728 and the death count to 3,494.

Of 9,785 tests reported Sunday, 2% returned positive.

County Reports 359 New COVID-19 Cases, 1 Death As Petco Site Closes For Padres

– 9:48 a.m., Sunday, March 21, 2021

The county's first and largest vaccination super site at Petco Park, which administered more than 200,000 Moderna vaccines, has closed in preparation for Padres opening day.

The Petco Park site has closed multiple times due to lack of vaccines, but with the Padres preparing for opening day, its closure was inevitable.

Meanwhile, San Diego County health officials reported 359 new COVID-19 infections, and one death Saturday.

The latest statistics from the county bring the cumulative number of coronavirus cases to 267,536 and the death count to 3,492.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported more than 761,000 — or 28.3% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and more than 480,000 people — or 17.9% — have been fully vaccinated.

Nearly 1.44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to the region and more than 1.36 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

The HHSA also reported 288 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in San Diego County Saturday. Of that number, 93 were being treated in intensive care units, an increase of two from the previous day.

Of 13,247 tests reported Saturday, 3% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average is 2.8%. — City News Service

County Reports 421 COVID-19 Cases, 13 Deaths As Petco Site Prepares To Close

– 5:48 p.m., Friday, March 19, 2021

The county's first and largest vaccination super site at Petco Park will close Saturday as San Diego County public health officials reported 421 new COVID-19 infections and 13 deaths Friday.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported more than 761,000 — or 28.3% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and more than 480,000 people — or 17.9% — have been fully vaccinated.

Nearly 1.44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to the region and more than 1.36 million have been logged as administered. This number includes both county residents and those who work in San Diego County.

The latest statistics from the county bring the cumulative number of coronavirus cases to 267,177 and the death count to 3,491. Nine men and four women died between Jan. 6 and March 18.

The HHSA also reported 258 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in San Diego County, unchanged from Thursday. Of that number, 91 were being treated in intensive care units, an increase of seven from the previous day.

Of 11,792 tests reported Friday, 4% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average is 2.8%. — City News Service

CDC Changes School Guidance, Allowing Desks To Be Closer

– 10:33 a.m., Friday, March 19, 2021

Students can safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks but should be kept the usual 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or chorus practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines.

The revised recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has sharply limited how many students some schools can accommodate. Some places have had to remove desks, stagger schedules and take other steps to keep children apart.

Three feet “gives school districts greater flexibility to have more students in for a prolonged period of time,” said Kevin Quinn, director of maintenance and facilities at Mundelein High School in suburban Chicago.

In recent months, schools in some states have been disregarding the CDC guidelines, using 3 feet as their standard. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC's community interventions task force.

“We don’t really have the evidence that 6 feet is required in order to maintain low spread,” she said. Also, younger children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus and don't seem to spread it as much as adults do, and “that allows us that confidence that that 3 feet of physical distance is safe.” — Associated Press

County Officials Address Challenges Of Vaccinating Homebound Seniors

– 5:09 p.m., Thursday, March 18, 2021

San Diego is having a tough time vaccinating homebound seniors, who are at a higher risk of developing complications or death after contracting COVID-19.

“This program has been challenging. There’s a lot of difficulties involved both in terms of these individuals usually having underlying health conditions so teams have to stay on-site much longer,” said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher during a news conference Thursday. “There’s also been challenges with the transport of the vaccine — with what's required in terms of storage.”

Fletcher added that it often takes more than an hour to vaccinate one homebound resident. County officials have said homebound seniors can call 211 to schedule a vaccination appointment.

“We did have a provider on early when we announced the upstart of the program — that provider did about three dozen vaccines then came to the realization that they could not continue and so we’ve had to pivot.”

Fletcher said currently mobile firefighter crews, part of Operation Collaboration, and Sharp HealthCare teams have been going out delivering vaccines to homebound seniors. Chula Vista has a similar program, but overall progress has been slow.

“We’re trying to get it back on track and moving a little bit faster,” Fletcher said. “Short answer is it’s a very challenging situation. It’s very difficult.”

He added that caregivers have already been prioritized for vaccinations. — Matt Hoffman, KPBS general assignment reporter

More Vaccines Coming, But Demands Outpacing Supply

– 4:13 p.m., Thursday, March 18, 2021

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said more vaccines are on the way -- 10% more next week than this week, in this case -- but the supply still is not keeping up with demand. Nevertheless, the 30 vaccination sites in the county had room to expand.

"We are well-positioned," Fletcher said. "We can do significantly more doses each day than we are doing."

The county's first and largest vaccination super site will close Saturday. The Petco Park site, which has provided more than 200,000 Moderna vaccines, has closed multiple times due to lack of vaccines, but with the Padres preparing for opening day, its closure was inevitable.

The county, UC San Diego, the city and Padres opened the superstation on Jan. 11. Five other superstations are operating in La Jolla, Chula Vista, La Mesa, San Marcos and Del Mar, even as the last one faces supply issues of its own.

Fletcher said the county would like to cooperate with UCSD on vaccine sites in the future, indicating a future one is "expected" at the San Diego Convention Center once the supply of vaccines increases and occupancy at the other several dozen sites begins to fill.

More than 754,000 — or 27.7% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and more than 471,000 people — or 17.5% — have been fully vaccinated.

According to county Supervisor Nora Vargas, 95.3% of seniors in the county's south region have received at least one dose, part of a concerted effort to inoculate the county's most vulnerable residents.

Of 15,929 tests reported Thursday, 3% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average is 2.8%.

As of Wednesday, there were 284 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in San Diego County, 84 of whom were in intensive care units. — City News Service

Biden Says US To Hit 100 Million Virus Goal Fn Friday

– 3:53 p.m., Thursday, March 18, 2021

With the U.S. closing in on President Joe Biden's goal of injecting 100 million coronavirus vaccinations weeks ahead of his target date, the White House announced Thursday the nation is now in position to help supply neighbors Canada and Mexico with millions of lifesaving shots.

The Biden administration revealed the outlines of a plan to “loan” a limited number of vaccines to Canada and Mexico as the president announced the U.S. is on the cusp of meeting his 100-day injection goal “way ahead of schedule.”

“ I’m proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met our goal," Biden said. He promised to unveil a new vaccination target next week, as the U.S. is on pace to have enough of the three currently authorized vaccines to cover the entire adult population just 10 weeks from now. — Associated Press

San Diego Chamber Launches `Time To Vaccinate' Campaign For Businesses

– 3:26 p.m., Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce began "Time To Vaccinate" today, an education and awareness program offering resources and information employers can use to encourage their workforce to get the COVID-19 vaccine when they are able.

"A key part of getting our region open and back in business safely is ensuring our workers get the vaccine when it's their turn," said Jerry Sanders, chamber president and CEO. "By joining the Time To Vaccinate program and pledging to provide time and flexibility for employees to receive vaccines, we are all working together to support our region's recovery."

According to Sanders, by publicly stating a company's commitment to support vaccines for employees, businesses show they are ready and willing to do their part to help end the pandemic. — City News Service

Some San Diego County Schools Planning Mid-April Reopening

– 11:32 a.m., Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Three San Diego County school districts have all announced plans to reopening for either in-person or hybrid learning starting mid-April.

Cajon Valley Union School District will return to a pre-pandemic schedule of full-time school, five days a week, after spring break on April 12, it was announced Wednesday.

The district serves more than 17,000 students in 27 schools in the East County of San Diego. It has consistently been the first public school district in the county to move toward reopening and returning to "normal" while other districts take a cautious approach, including becoming the largest county district to get a waiver last fall for in-person education.

The San Diego Unified School District is planning for an April 12 opening as well, but for hybrid in-person/online learning or just online, depending on the comfort level of families. Students will be able to return to school four days a week for six hours a day.

The Chula Vista Elementary School District has plans for two-, three-hour cohorts of students with 155 minutes of instruction beginning April 12 with a hybrid option. —City News Service

Del Mar Racetrack Eyes Spectators In Stands When Horse Racing Season Starts

–3:24 p.m., Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Del Mar racetrack could soon see spectators in the stands once again this summer. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club officials are optimistic and hope to make an official announcement soon.

They say due to such a large venue, they can host people comfortably with proper social distancing when the summer season opens July 16.

Last season, only owners of horses running in the race were able to watch.

Along with summer racing, this year's fall season will feature the Breeders Cup Championship races. — KPBS staff

San Diego County Advancing To Red Tier; Indoor Dining, Movie Theaters Opening

– 11:56 a.m., Tuesday, March 16, 2021

San Diego County will move back into the less restrictive red tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening blueprint Wednesday, allowing limited indoor operations of restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, museums and aquariums and selected other businesses.

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond confirmed the move Tuesday, which will be officially announced by the state around midday when it does its weekly update of county rankings in the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which governs business restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State officials modified the blueprint last week when the state reached a 2 million threshold for COVID vaccine doses administered in low-income communities hard-hit by the pandemic. The modification allowed counties to move more quickly through the blueprint's four color-coded tiers, allowing San Diego County to escape the restrictive purple tier when its case rate fell below 10 per 100,000 and maintained that level for two weeks.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said the county's testing positivity rate will be 6.8 new daily cases per 100,000 population this week. The rate last week was 8.8 per 100,000 residents.

A move to red tier will allow for indoor dining and movie theaters at 25% capacity or 100 diners — whichever is fewer, as well as gyms operating at 10% capacity indoors, and museums, zoos and aquariums at 25% indoors. — City News Service

New Oceanside Vaccination Site Has The National Guard Delivering Shots

– 8:22 p.m., Monday, March 15, 2021

A new COVID-19 vaccination site is opening in Oceanside Tuesday at the North Coastal Health and Human Services Facility.

This is one can delivery up to 700 vaccines per day and is located in the 92058 ZIP code, identified by the state as being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

"This is in the middle of a Latino community," said Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez. "Two Latino communities will be able to walk here that would be the Crown Heights community and also Eastside."

Sanchez unveiled the new site Monday along with San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond.

"This clinic is going to play a vital role in vaccine distribution to one of the communities hardest hit by COVID-19," Desmond said during a news conference. Matt Hoffman, KPBS General Assignment Reporter and Melissa Mae, KPBS Reporter

Del Mar Vaccination Site Prepares For Mid-Week Closure As Vaccine Pool Expands

– 6:33 p.m., Monday, March 15, 2021

Vaccine eligibility expanded in San Diego County Monday, even as the Del Mar Fairgrounds COVID-19 vaccination super site prepares for a mid-week closure due to lack of vaccine supply.

While people with underlying health conditions are now able to sign up for vaccination appointments, Scripps Health said the number of vaccines it received this week necessitates shutting down the Del Mar site Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following a weekend shutdown that started Friday. The site is scheduled to be open Thursday.

Patients who had appointments at the super station on one of those days are being rescheduled automatically through the MyTurn online appointment system.

Medical guidance suggests patients can wait up to six weeks between doses of the vaccine without losing any efficacy.

So far, 709,220 — or 26.4% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and 430,379 people — or 16% — have been fully vaccinated. — City News Service

Petco Park Vaccination Site Closing For Good Saturday

– 4:17 p.m., Monday, March 15, 2021

San Diego County’s first vaccine superstation is getting ready to close to make way for Padres baseball.

The site in Petco Park’s tailgate parking lot will close permanently at the end of Saturday, UC San Diego Health said.

UCSD, which operates the site, is working to ensure everyone who got their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine there will be able to get their second dose before the super station’s closing.

The super station has administered more than 200,000 vaccines, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all those given in the county so far. — Kim Swain, KPBS Evening Edition Producer

Vaccine Shortage Temporarily Closes Del Mar Fairgrounds Super Station

– 1:07 p.m., Monday, March 15, 2021

A vaccine shortage is forcing Scripps Health to close Del Mar Fairgrounds vaccination super station for several days this week, the hospital system announced Monday.

The vaccination station will close Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after Scripps Health received fewer than expected vaccines this weekend.

Patients with appointments on those dates are being scheduled through the MyTurn appointment system. — KPBS staff

COVID-19 Vaccines Available Beginning Monday For Those With Underlying Medical Conditions

Starting Monday, COVID-19 vaccinations are available for San Diego County residents ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher made the announcement last week but added that first appointments may be hard to find. The underlying medical conditions that qualify someone for a vaccine include, but are not limited to: cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic pulmonary disease, sickle cell, obesity and Down syndrome.

A complete list of those eligible can be found on the county's website. People who qualify will not have to show documentation of their illness but will be asked to sign a self-attestation that they meet the criteria. – KPBS Staff

San Diego County Reports 198 COVID-19 Cases, 8 Deaths

– 5:45 p.m., Sunday March 14, 2021

San Diego County is reporting 198 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 265,471 and the death toll to 3,452.

With Sunday's data, the total number of cases in the county rose to 265,471 and the death toll edged up to 3,452.

Of 10,349 tests reported Sunday, 2% returned positive.

There were three community outbreaks reported Sunday with 15 reported in the last seven days. Cases associated with those outbreaks totaled 55.

On Monday, vaccine eligibility will expand again, this time to people with underlying health conditions, subject to vaccine availability.

All told, 709,220 — or 26.4% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and 430,376 people — or 16% — have been fully vaccinated.

A possible change to California's COVID-19 reopening schedule could have San Diego County promoted to the less-restrictive red tier by as early as Wednesday, according to county officials. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 384 COVID-19 Cases, 10 Deaths

– 5:30 p.m., Saturday March 13, 2021

San Diego County is reporting 384 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 265,273 and the death toll to 3,444.

Of 11,433 tests reported Saturday, 3% returned positive.

Meanwhile, vaccine shortages have closed the Del Mar Fairgrounds COVID-19 vaccination super site through Sunday.

On Monday, vaccine eligibility will expand again, this time to people with underlying health conditions, subject to vaccine availability.

All told, 678,267 — or 25.2% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and 385,938 people — or 14.4% — have been fully vaccinated.

A possible change to California's COVID-19 reopening schedule could have San Diego County promoted to the less-restrictive red tier by as early as Wednesday, according to county officials.

The red tier will feature a limited allowance of indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and other businesses and services. — City News Service

San Diego Projects To Move To Red Tier After State Hits Equity Mark

– 1:37 p.m., Friday, March 12, 2021

California on Friday announced it has administered 2 million vaccine doses to people in vulnerable, low-income ZIP codes.

This will allow counties to more quickly reopen activities such as indoor dining and indoor gyms at reduced capacity. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that he would tie reopening standards to ensuring that the people most impacted by the pandemic are protected against the virus.

By hitting the 2 million mark, the state will reassess counties and allow them to move to the red tier within 48 hours instead of waiting until Tuesday.

The state said Friday that the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Contra Costa and Sonoma can reopen more businesses as of Sunday. On Tuesday, the state expects 13 more counties to move into the red tier, including Sacramento, San Diego, Riverside and Ventura. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 430 COVID-19 Cases, 9 Deaths

– 6:24 p.m., Thursday, March 11, 2021

Vaccine shortages will close the Del Mar Fairgrounds vaccination super site Friday through Sunday as San Diego County public health officials reported 430 new COVID-19 infections and nine deaths Thursday.

With Thursday's data, the total number of cases rose to 264,527 and the death toll edged up to 3,422.

Of 16,204 tests reported by the county Thursday, 3% returned positive and the 14-day rolling average declined slightly from 3.2% on Wednesday to 3.1% Thursday.

The humber of hospitalizations declined to 314, with 99 people in intensive care beds. On Wednesday, those numbers were 343 and 97, respectively.

On Monday, vaccine eligibility will expand again, this time to people with underlying health conditions, subject to vaccine availability.

All told, 678,267 — or 25.2% of San Diego County residents over the age of 16 — have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines and 385,938 people — or 14.4% — have been fully vaccinated.

A possible change to California's COVID-19 reopening schedule could have San Diego County promoted to the less-restrictive red tier by as early as Wednesday, according to county officials.

California's Department of Public Health modified the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to lead with opening activities when vaccines have been deployed to the hardest-hit communities. The modification will shift Blueprint tier thresholds to allow slightly higher case rates per 100,000 population once more inoculations have occurred in the communities suffering the most, allowing counties to move to less restrictive tiers. – City News Service

State Loosens Restrictions For Breweries, Distilleries And More

– 3:52 p.m., Thursday, March 11, 2021

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Thursday updated public health guidance that allows reopening with modifications in breweries, wineries, distilleries, bars and sleepaway camps.

Starting Saturday, breweries, wineries and distilleries that do not serve meals may open outdoors only with modifications in the purple and red tiers. The modifications include a reservations system and enforcing a 90-minute time limit per customer. On-site consumption must end by 8 p.m.

Indoor operations at breweries, wineries and distilleries can resume at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, in counties under the orange tier. Those in the yellow tier can cap the capacity at 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer.

Breweries, wineries and distilleries that do serve food will continue to follow restaurant guidance previously set forth by the state.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said he’d been working with the San Diego Brewers Guild and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office for several weeks to establish a reopening plan.

“I am glad breweries will now be able to open under the same guidelines as wineries,” said Fletcher in a statement. “This is good for brewers, good for our economic recovery and good for San Diego County."

Bars that don’t serve food, however, will remain closed in purple and red tiers but can operate outdoors in orange-tiered counties. Yellow tier bars can begin indoor operations at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

The state is also allowing overnight sleepaway camps to resume June 1 with modifications in red, orange and yellow tiers. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS Web Producer

Biden Wants All Adults Vaccine-Eligible By May 1

– 3:36 p.m., Thursday, March 11, 2021

President Joe Biden will use his first prime-time address on Thursday night to announce that he is directing states to make all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine no later than May 1.

That’s according to two senior administration officials who briefed reporters ahead of Biden’s evening address on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. The officials say the president will also say that there is a good chance Americans will be able to safely gather in small groups by July 4.

Biden is also expected to stress that the “fight is far from over.” But he’ll say the nation will be in a “far better place” by the Independence Day holiday if Americans wear masks, follow public health guidelines and get vaccinated when it is their turn. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to keep the focus on the president’s address. — Associated Press

COVID-19 Vaccines Soon Available To Patients With Underlying Medical Conditions

– 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Starting next Monday, COVID-19 vaccinations become available for those 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher made the announcement Wednesday but added that first appointments may be hard to find and people will need to show documentation for medical conditions.

Officials said underlying medical conditions include, but are not limited to: cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic pulmonary disease, sickle cell, obesity and Down syndrome.

Fletcher said with vaccinations rising in key areas of the state and local infection rates falling, he’s expecting San Diego to be out of California’s most-restrictive purple reopening tier as soon as next week. Moving to the less-restrictive red tier allows for limited indoor operations at restaurants and gyms. It also means more schools can reopen.

Officials announced on Wednesday they would begin closing a 200-bed federal field hospital set up in Escondido to deal with the surge in hospitalizations. Coronavirus ICU admissions and hospitalizations have been steadily falling in San Diego County. At the same time, plans were revealed to convert the downtown San Diego Convention Center into a vaccination site, once more doses arrive to the region.

Some 14,000 doses of the new single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are now in San Diego, but supply issues are still slowing, and in some cases pausing, vaccinations.

“We are very hopeful — I’ve seen the president say multiple times that by May every adult who wants a vaccine will have access to it — that’s great,” Fletcher said. “We’re in March so we need that to start trickling down here to the counties so we can start getting it into arms.”

The county is also launching a new media campaign that will have TV ads running in English and Spanish, hoping to reach those hesitant about getting vaccinated.

Right now, nearly 25% of San Diegans aged 16 and over have received at least one dose, while around 13% of county residents are fully vaccinated. With some appointment delays piling up, officials are saying it is OK if second dose appointments are pushed beyond the recommended six-week window.

“Folks having to delay past 42 days — that is OK — you should still try to get your shot as early as you can,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director for the county’s epidemiology and immunization services department. “And you don't need to repeat a first dose —- that’s a very common question.” – Matt Hoffman, KPBS General Assignment Reporter

San Diego County Plans For Earlier-Than-Expected Promotion To Red Tier

– 5:02 p.m., Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A possible change to California's COVID-19 reopening schedule could have San Diego County promoted to the less-restrictive red tier by as early as next Wednesday, county officials announced this Wednesday, while reporting 349 new infections and eight additional deaths.

California's Department of Public Health modified the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to lead with opening activities when vaccines have been deployed to the hardest-hit communities. The modification will shift Blueprint tier thresholds to allow slightly higher case rates per 100,000 population once more inoculations have occurred in the communities suffering the most, allowing counties to move to less restrictive tiers.

The initial goal of the vaccine equity metric is to deliver a minimum of 2 million doses to the hardest-hit quarter of the state as measured by the Healthy Places Index. The state estimates it will deliver the 2 million doses to that quartile this week.

The floor for the most-restrictive purple tier will move to 10 daily cases per 100,000 population once the state hits that benchmark. As of Tuesday's state update, San Diego County has a case rate of 8.8 per 100,000 — enough to qualify for one week of the proposed changed red tier. – City News Service

San Diego County Remains In Purple Tier, But COVID-19 Numbers Improve

– 2:20 p.m., Tuesday, March 9, 2021

San Diego County will remain in the most-restrictive purple tier of the state's four-tiered coronavirus reopening plan, it was announced Tuesday, but there is a still a possibility to be promoted to the less-restrictive red tier by the end of the month.

According to state data released Tuesday, San Diego County has an adjusted case rate of 8.8 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. To be promoted to the red tier — and its limited allowance of indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and other businesses and services — the county must report a daily case rate of fewer than 7 per 100,000 and then maintain that rate for two weeks.

By these numbers, the earliest the county could move to the red tier is March 30. The California Department of Public Health assesses counties on a weekly basis and schedules updates for Tuesdays.

The testing positivity percentage is 3.3%, placing the county in the orange tier. While the testing positivity rate for the county qualifies it for orange, the state uses the most restrictive metric — in this case the adjusted case rate — and assigns counties to that tier. The county's health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions, is 4.5% and is also in the orange tier. – City News Service

Scripps Del Mar Fairgrounds Vaccination Super Station Closing Friday Through Sunday

– 1:28 p.m., Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Scripps Health announced Tuesday that the Del Mar Fairgrounds Super Station will be closed Friday, March 12 through Sunday, March 14 due to a shortage in COVID-19 vaccines.

The station will reopen Monday, March 15.

Patients who had appointments at the Scripps Del Mar Fairgrounds Vaccination Super Station on one of those three closed days are being rescheduled for either Thursday, March 11, or early next week automatically through the MyTurn online appointment system.

A small number of appointments at that site on Wednesday will be rescheduled to Thursday because of a programming error on the MyTurn system.

However, patients with second dose appointments will be rescheduled from Friday, Saturday and Sunday to Monday, March 15.

The MyTurn system is expected to notify patients of these changes. – KPBS Staff

COVID-19 Vaccine Made Available To Convention Center Shelter Residents, Staff

– 6:13 p.m., Monday, March 8, 2021

The single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be made available Tuesday and Wednesday to shelter residents and staff of Operation Shelter to Home at the San Diego Convention Center, the mayor’s office said in a release Monday.

City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Firefighters and Lifeguards will administer the vaccinations on-site Tuesday and Wednesday.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria had announced on March 5 a timeline and plans for residents of the Convention Center shelter to be relocated to several other city shelters by the end of March.

“The vaccines offer another level of protection against the COVID-19 virus ahead of the moves that are slated to begin the week of March 22,” read the release.

Operation Shelter to Home was launched April 1, 2020 to provide shelter for those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. – KPBS Staff

307 New COVID-19 Cases Reported As County Awaits State Data

– 5:20 p.m., Monday, May 5, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 307 new COVID-19 infections Monday, as the county awaits state data Tuesday which could promote it to the less-restrictive red tier of the state's four-tiered economic recovery plan.

San Diego County remains in the most restrictive purple tier, but just barely. The county's state-calculated, adjusted case rate is currently 10.8 cases per 100,000 residents. It needs to be below seven per 100,000 to head into the red tier.

The testing positivity percentage is 4.2%, placing the county in the orange tier. While the testing positivity rate for the county qualifies it for orange, the state uses the most restrictive metric — in this case, the adjusted case rate — and assigns counties to that tier. The county's health equity metric, which looks at the testing positivity for areas with the lowest healthy conditions, is 6% and is in the red tier.

The California Department of Public Health assesses counties on a weekly basis. The next report is scheduled for Tuesday. — City News Service

Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks, CDC Says

– 11:23 a.m., Monday, March 8, 2021

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. That's according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials. The recommendations were announced Monday.

They also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.

Officials say a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine. About 30 million Americans or only about 9% of the U.S. population have been fully vaccinated with a federally authorized COVID-19 vaccine so far. — Associated Press

187 New COVID-19 Infections, Five Deaths Reported In San Diego County

– 5:45 p.m., Friday, March 7, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 187 new COVID-19 infections and five deaths Sunday, increasing the totals to 262,968 cases and 3,390 deaths.

As of Sunday, of the county's population over the age of 16, 23.4% — or nearly 629,783 people — have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 12.2% — or more than 327,958 people — have been fully inoculated. — City News Service

421 New COVID-19 Infections, 14 Deaths Reported In San Diego County

– 5:42 p.m., Saturday, March 6, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 421 new COVID-19 infections and 14 deaths Saturday, increasing the totals to 262,781 cases and 3,385 deaths as stadiums and theme parks have been cleared to reopen in California beginning April 1 subject to strict conditions.

Theme parks can reopen at 15% capacity in the red tier of the state's four-tiered reopening plan. Capacity levels will shift to 25% in the orange tier and 35% in the yellow tier.

Of 12,946 tests reported by the county Saturday, 3% returned positive.

The number of hospitalizations declined to 371, with 117 of those in intensive care units. There are 61 staffed, available ICU beds in the county.

There were no new community outbreaks reported Saturday. There have been 28 outbreaks over the last seven days with 123 cases associated with those outbreaks.

San Diego County is in the most restrictive, purple, tier, but numbers are trending downward at such a rate the county could be promoted to the red tier this month.

Of the county's population over the age of 16, 23.1% — or nearly 620,000 people — have received at least one dose and 11.9% — or more than 319,000 people — have been fully inoculated. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 499 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths

– 6:49 p.m., Friday, March 5, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 499 new COVID-19 infections and 12 deaths Friday, increasing the county's totals to 262,360 cases and 3,371 deaths.

Of 13,752 tests reported by the county, 4% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average decreased to 3.4% from Thursday's 3.6%.

The number of hospitalizations declined to 405, with 128 of those in intensive care units. There are 67 staffed, available ICU beds in the county.

One month ago, there were 1,246 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 360 of whom were in ICU beds.

Of the county's population over the age of 16, 23.1% — or nearly 620,000 people — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 11.9% — or more than 319,000 people — have been fully inoculated. — City News Service

California To Let Major League Baseball, Disneyland Reopen

– 3:00 p.m., Friday, March 5, 2021

California is allowing people to attend Major League Baseball games and other sports, go to Disneyland and watch live performances in limited capacities starting April 1.

The rules announced Friday coincide with baseball's opening day. The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics all have home games scheduled for April 1.

California divides its counties into four color-coded tiers based on the spread of the coronavirus. Attendance limits are based on what tier a county is in.

Theme parks can open at 15% capacity in the tier that's the second-highest risk level and only people who live in California can buy tickets. Sports in areas with the most spread will be limited to 100 people. — Associated Press

San Diego Administers Its 1 Millionth Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine

– 12:00 p.m., Friday, March 5, 2021

San Diego County has administered its 1 millionth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday, San Diego County Chair Nathan Fletcher said.

“We are moving faster than any other county in the state of California to administer these vaccines so we can get our kids back in school, get our businesses open, get back in the ballpark for Opening Day and really move forward,” he said.

There are 27 vaccination sites or events located throughout the San Diego County region, though delays in vaccine shipments have caused some sites to temporarily close lately.

The county has the capacity to administer 33,000 vaccinations on a daily basis and more than 1 million per month, but is averaging about 14,000 vaccinations each day because of the shortage.

Fletcher said the county now expects to receive its first shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week. — KPBS Staff

Legoland California Opens For 'Build 'N Play Days'

– 10:18 a.m., Friday, March 5, 2021

Legoland California Resort begins its "Build 'N Play Days" Friday, allowing families to enjoy some of the park's outdoor attractions in a socially distanced environment.

The limited-time event, running through May 5, is also allowing the park to bring back hundreds of employees furloughed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Guests will have access to play structures within the park such as Kai's Spinners and Cole's Rock Climb, building activities, a scavenger hunt in Miniland U.S.A., live entertainment, character meet-and-greets and shopping at the Big Shop.

Build 'N Play activities include a Miniland dance party where guests can do the "Lego limbo" and design their own Minifigure on the roof of the model shop. Two building activities are intended to stretch children's imaginations with separate sanitized brick packs and a space for children's creations to stay on display each weekend.

Legoland was forced to shut down last March, along with other theme parks, which are not allowed to fully reopen until the least-restrictive yellow tier of California's four-tiered reopening system is reached. San Diego County remains in the most restrictive purple tier.

Legoland California Resort President Kurt Stocks said he is optimistic they'll be able to reopen in the near future.

"Obviously, we're waiting on Governor Newsom to give us the green light to fully reopen, but at this moment we are going out into the market and we are advertising quite literally hundreds of jobs that we will need filled as we get ready to reopen," he told NBC7.

Those interested can apply at legolandjobs.com.

Tickets for Build 'N Play Days start at $19.99 and can be purchased by clicking here. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 508 New COVID-19 cases, 17 Deaths

– 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 4, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 508 new COVID-19 cases and 17 additional deaths Thursday, increasing the totals to 261,861 cases and 3,359 deaths.

Of 17,763 tests reported by the county, 3% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average decreased to 3.6% from Wednesday's 3.7%.

The number of hospitalizations declined to 430, with 144 of those in intensive care units. There are 62 staffed, available ICU beds in the county.

One month ago, there were 1,265 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 369 of whom were in ICU beds.

Of the county's population over the age of 16, 22.1% — or more than 594,000 people — have received at least one dose and 10.7% — or more than 287,000 people — have been fully inoculated. — City News Service

Del Mar Vaccination Super Station Closing Saturday, Reopening Sunday

– 12:00 p.m., Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Scripps Del Mar Vaccination Super Station will be closed on Saturday, March 6, due to the low number of COVID-19 vaccine doses that were delivered to Scripps Health this week.

The station will reopen the following day on Sunday, March 7.

Patients who had appointments at the super station on Saturday, which were all for second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, are being rescheduled for Sunday automatically through the MyTurn online appointment system. — KPBS Staff

County Prioritizes Second Dose Appointments As Vaccine Shortage Continues

– 7:10 p.m., Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Local vaccination sites are prioritizing people with second dose appointments because of the ongoing vaccine shortage, the county announced Wednesday.

There is currently a delay in Moderna vaccine shipments because of bad weather a few weeks ago across the U.S. The county shortage of Moderna vaccines is conflated with the Pfizer vaccines being used almost exclusively for people due for their second doses.

Those two issues are causing delays in the release of new appointments for people getting the vaccines for the first time.

“Our sites are working diligently to complete the vaccinations of people who are due for their second doses,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. “When we get through the Moderna backlog, and more doses arrive, including the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine, first-dose appointments will be released for the many people who are both eligible and eager to get vaccinated.” — KPBS Staff

San Diego County On Path To Red Tier

– 4:36 p.m., Wednesday, March 3, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 352 new COVID-19 cases and 25 additional deaths Wednesday as health care sites await more vaccines, including the one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

On Wednesday, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county should be proud of the sacrifice it had made during the pandemic and suggested a change in the formula the state uses to calculate its four-tiered reopening structure could be on the way.

He said the more that vulnerable populations receive vaccines, the "more it changes the calculus" of the state's metrics. However, vaccine shortages have frustrated efforts to get doses into arms.

"It is consistently erratic and consistently unpredictable," Fletcher said of vaccine deliveries.

The county's largest vaccine site, Petco Park, reopened Wednesday after closing Saturday due to a Moderna vaccine shortage. It had to temporarily shutter several hours later, however, due to a winter storm bringing lightning.

"As of noon today, the Petco Vaccination Super Station has briefly paused operations due to safety concerns related to nearby lightning," UC San Diego Health wrote on Twitter. "The site will reopen as soon as authorities determine it is safe to do so." — City News Service

San Diego To Stay In Purple Tier, Receive Johnson & Johnson Vaccine This Week

– 5:22 p.m., Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Despite considerable improvement in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in recent weeks, San Diego County will remain in the state's "Purple Tier" for at least one more week, it was announced Tuesday, as county officials reported 376 new infections and 14 deaths related to the virus.

Posting an adjusted case rate of 10.8 new daily cases per 100,000 people, the county still has to drop below 7 per 100,000 to enter the red tier in the state's four-tiered reopening system. In the red tier, some indoor businesses such as gyms, movie theaters and indoor dining can reopen.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said it was just a matter of time before the county moved up.

"San Diego County is headed in the right direction, our cases are dropping and the number of vaccines administered continues to lead our state," he said Tuesday. "We are seeing more school openings and know we are on the path to a lower tier. It is vital we continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and continue our forward progress and momentum."

The county's other metrics under the state reopening plan are also trending favorably. The seven-day positivity rate is just 4.2%, low enough to put San Diego County in the orange or moderate tier. The health equity quartile positivity rate — which looks at the worst-performing quarter of a county's residents — is in the red tier with 6%. The state judges each county by its worst-performing metric — in San Diego County's case, the daily case rate. — City News Service

Biden Vows Enough Vaccine For All US Adults By End Of May

– 3:29 p.m., Tuesday, March 2, 2021

President Joe Biden says the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccine for all adults by the end of May — two months earlier than anticipated.

He's also pushing states to get at least one shot into the arms of teachers by the end of May to hasten school reopenings. Biden has also announced that drugmaker Merck will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved one-shot vaccine.

Despite the stepped-up pace of vaccine production, the work of inoculating Americans could extend well into the summer. It depends on both the government’s capacity to deliver doses and Americans’ willingness to roll up their sleeves. — Associated Press

San Diego County Not Among 7 Counties Moving Into Less Restrictive Red Tier

– 12:50 p.m., Tuesday, March 2, 2021

San Diego County was not among the seven counties that moved into a less restrictive COVID-19 tier, from purple (widespread) to red (substantial), the state announced Tuesday.

San Diego County is reporting 11.3 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people. In order to move into the Red tier, the county needs to be reporting under seven new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

The seven counties moving into Red tier are:

–El Dorado

–Lassen

–Modoc

–Napa

–San Francisco

–San Luis Obispo

–Santa Clara.

No counties moved to a more restrictive tier.

Forty counties remain in the purple tier, 16 in the red tier, and 2 remain in the orange (moderate) tier. — KPBS Staff

County Ready To Distribute Over $100 Million In COVID-19 Rental Assistance

– 7:36 a.m., Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Starting Tuesday, low-income renters throughout the San Diego region who have experienced COVID-19-related loss of income will be able to apply for additional rental and utility assistance grants.

San Diego County's Emergency Rental Assistance Program, funded by more than $100 million in state and federal monies, is intended to help lessen housing cost burdens and maintain housing stability.

The program will primarily aid eligible people who are behind on rent and/or utility payments, covering the period from April 2020 to March 2021. Utilities include costs such as electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash and other energy costs not included in the rent.

"This is a new lifeline for people who are having trouble making ends meet due to the pandemic," said County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer. "We want to make sure this public health crisis does not leave San Diegans in debt or without a home. If you are having trouble paying rent or utilities, we are here to help."

The amount of rental arrears covered will depend on whether the landlord agrees to participate in the program. Landlords owed back rent can also apply on behalf of their tenants. — City News Service

San Diego County Reports 269 COVID-19 Cases As Petco Vaccine Site Remains Closed

– 5:55 p.m., Monday, March 1, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 269 new COVID-19 infections Monday and no deaths, while the vaccine shortage kept Petco Park's COVID-19 superstation closed.

The closure comes at an inopportune time, as more than 500,000 emergency services, child care and education and food and agriculture workers were scheduled to be eligible to receive vaccines beginning this week.

The county's existing doses will be largely reserved for second doses until the vaccine supply issue can be resolved.

Of the county's population over the age of 16, 21.3% -- or 572,546 people-- have received at least one dose and 10.1% -- or 272,377 people -- have been fully inoculated the county reported on Saturday.

Monday's data increased the cumulative totals in the county to 260,625 cases. No new deaths were reported and the death toll remains at 3,303.

Of 7,180 tests reported by the county, 4% returned positive. The 14- day rolling average decreased to 3.8% from 4.4% Sunday. — City News Service

San Diego Comic-Con Going Virtual For Second Year

– 12:35 p.m., Monday, March 1, 2021

For the second year in a row, San Diego Comic-Con has canceled its in-person event because of the ongoing pandemic and will go virtual, the organization announced Monday.

The annual pop-culture convention plans to also host a smaller “Comic-Con Lite” three-day event in November with details to be announced later.

“While we lament the postponement of the in-person Comic-Con, our commitment to this community of fans and our celebration of comics and the related popular arts endures as an import of who we are,” Comic-Con International said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Fans who opted to have last year’s passes rolled over to this year can have their passes rolled over again to 2022 or request a full refund. — KPBS Staff

Deal Reached To Get California Children Back In Classrooms

– 8:25 a.m. Monday, March 1, 2021

California’s public schools could get $6.6 billion from the state Legislature if they return to in-person instruction by the end of March, according to a new agreement announced Monday between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s legislative leaders.

Most of California’s public schools have not met in-person since March because of the coronavirus. Many districts have struggled to reach agreements with teachers’ unions on the best way to return students and staff to the classroom.

Newsom, who could face a recall election later this year spurred by his handling of the coronavirus, has been at odds with legislative leaders on the best way to encourage school districts to return students to the classroom. California can’t order schools to return to in-person instruction, but state officials can offer a lot of money to those that do.

The agreement sets aside $6.6 billion for schools that return to in-person instruction by March 31. The bill is a deal between Newsom, state Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, all Democrats. It was confirmed by Atkins’ office. Newsom’s office has scheduled a formal announcement for late Monday morning.

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