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San Diego Nightlife Hotspots Are Also Outbreak Hotspots, Analysis Shows

 September 15, 2020 at 10:36 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 New records obtained by KPBS show. Community outbreaks of Corona virus were concentrated in areas known for their nightlife, KPBS health reporter Taren mento says data obtained and analyzed by KPBS reveal, which zipcodes experienced the most outbreaks in the County Speaker 2: 00:17 A night out in San Diego's historic gasoline district has taken on a different look during COVID a blocked off street is a makeshift prominent dining room. Sit in front of parking near the, you want to be inside or neighborhoods across the County are taking similar steps to protect the public and keep businesses running during the pandemic. But community outbreak data show more is at stake. In this area. The KPBS analysis found the zip code that includes gas, lamp, little Italy in the East village accounts for the highest number of outbreaks than any other in the County. An outbreak is defined as three or more cases that could be traced back to one location. Speaker 1: 00:53 It wouldn't make sense with all the employees that are working down here and all the different establishments that are never going to be higher than say Del Mar oil. Speaker 2: 01:01 Michael tremble runs the neighborhood business district. Gaslamp quarter association. He's not surprised by KPBS his findings, but he points to banners above him that show business owners personally, pledging to help keep customers safe. Speaker 1: 01:15 No, they're going to have an being an environment where they can actually be comfortable and know they're not going to come down with it. Speaker 2: 01:21 The pledge came after a union Tribune reporters, photos in June that showed a sea of uncovered faces in the gasoline. Speaker 1: 01:27 Well, it was disappointing to see that, and it really lit a fire under my office and my association, and really, uh, taught the merchants that people are watching Speaker 2: 01:40 Data through late July show, 14 outbreaks have occurred in nine to 101, but Trimble says he didn't know of any tied specifically to the Gaslamp. Speaker 1: 01:49 At this point, I don't know of anyone who had an outbreak in the gas at that point, Speaker 2: 01:53 The little Italy association said two of its restaurants closed because of staff illnesses. The East village business group didn't respond to messages overall more than a third of the county's outbreaks have happened at businesses in just four zip codes. That includes nine to one zero nine in Pacific beach. It's not surprised that it's happening here. Sarah Burns is the executive director of discover Pacific beach. People are coming into Pacific beach and with that they're bringing, um, symptoms and coronavirus. She helps businesses understand and follow public health regulations to keep customers safe. Businesses care about preventing outbreaks. I mean their staff is probably the one most at risk and, um, they're trying to stay open to feed their families so that their staff can feed their families. But 11 outbreaks have happened in the zip code, which also covers mission beach. One PB restaurant El pres was ordered to close. Speaker 2: 02:44 When video showed unmasked customers packed inside. Bern says she doesn't know if El pres was linked to an outbreak, but welcomes the county's action. Think that's what we want to see as a, as a community, um, that those that not following the rules or need assistance with the rules are getting it. She says businesses that have had outbreaks have shut down to sterilize the facility and get workers tested, but none agreed to speak with KPBS. A lot of this is more coming from staff outbreaks, not necessarily customer outbreaks, um, and they're taking care of what they need to take care of to reopen safely. I don't think any, any businesses wants to necessarily be associated with an outbreak. The two others zip codes were located in the South Bay and more than half of the outbreaks there happened in manufacturing and food processing facilities, County officials won't release the exact outbreak locations because they fear it will cause businesses to shy away from reporting them. Speaker 2: 03:38 But KPBS and voice of San Diego are challenging that in court because we feel the public has a right to know in the gas lamp business association had trembled hired events, coordinator, Laurel McFarland to help businesses follow public health roles. McFarland says businesses should be notifying customers if they have an outbreak, but not the public. But I do feel there's a responsibility to let your customers know, but I don't know if there's a response we let everyone know because it's really about keeping the people who came safe and knowledgeable, but she says, she'd follow whatever rules, County officials put out. That's something they feel is we need to do more and do it publicly. Then we'll follow those rules tool to everyone. Just trying to follow the rules right now, the County health department did not respond to requests for an interview. Taran mento, KPBS news, Speaker 3: 04:28 More businesses are reopening in San Diego. And you may have questions about what this means for public health and mid the Corona virus go to San Diego and tell us what questions we should ask a local infectious disease expert in an upcoming interview.

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A KPBS analysis of COVID-19 community outbreaks shows ZIP codes that include the Gaslamp Quarter and Pacific Beach have had the most outbreaks.
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