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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

Supervisors Ask Staff To Create CARES Act Spending Plan To Support Child Care

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If supervisors vote yes, $25 million of the funding would be spent on child care providers; $5 million would support the county Department of Public Health's Testing, Tracing, and Treatment strategy specifically dedicated for K-12 schools; and $18.8 million would be put toward senior food programs.

Speaker 1: 00:00 What do the rising number of positive COVID cases in San Diego really mean? And do they justify a new business shut down. Those were the questions being asked Tuesday as San Diego County public health officer, dr. Wilma Wooten presented a COVID update to the County board of supervisors. The supervisors were supportive of Wooten and her conclusions not. So for some members of the public who pushed back on new business restrictions, the supervisors also approved $17 million in grants to local businesses and we'll study options on how to spend an additional $48 million in federal COVID relief funds journey me as KPBS health reporter, Taran mento, who attended the meeting remotely yesterday. Thanks Maureen. Two supervisors acknowledged that dr. Wooten has the toughest job in the County right now. What were some of the new numbers she brought to the meeting yesterday,

Speaker 2: 00:56 She announced 578 people tested positive for the virus. That's the second highest single day. Uh, we've seen related to new cases and that 12 more people died, but the, the jumping deaths was somewhat expected. There's often a lag and reporting them. Plus the holiday weekend may have delayed the reporting, those deaths even further.

Speaker 1: 01:15 Is there any change in the demographics of people being infected and where they are picking up the virus?

Speaker 2: 01:21 Almost half of the positives reported in the latter half of June were among those aged 20 to 39 years old. And people in this age range are increasingly making up a larger percentage of our total cases and reports of community outbreaks are pointing back to where they may be picking it up. You know, Wooten said during her presentation, there were 21 outbreaks in the last seven days. And two thirds were tied back to two bars slash restaurants, which I do want to point out that my colleague at the UT Paul Cison did clarify from the County that is this not bars alone. These are restaurants with bars embedded in them.

Speaker 1: 01:57 What is the 14 day positivity rate now for San Diego?

Speaker 2: 02:01 It's 5.9%. And we've seen that increase, uh, pretty steadily from, from three to four. Just that three to 4%, just a couple of weeks ago

Speaker 1: 02:09 Has the spike in cases. And the positivity rate led to a similar spike in deaths and hospitalizations in San Diego.

Speaker 2: 02:17 Officials have said a few times now that hospitalizations death are lagging indicators. First you'll see cases surge as we have over the last couple of weeks, but then the uptick in hospitalizations and deaths comes a bit later. We're starting to see that increase early in the pandemic, about 130 to 150 people admitted to the hospital each week, that dip down to about 80 to a hundred. And now we're seeing that creep up again two weeks ago, almost 130 new hospitalizations last week, almost 160 hospitalizations, kind of similar, but a little bit different with deaths. We saw peaks about 40 deaths reported in one week, back in late April and late may. Then we saw that drop down and now we're seeing it creep back up to last week was 26 deaths reported in a week.

Speaker 1: 03:03 Now some of the public comment from people who phoned into the meeting was strongly against dr. Wilton's conclusions and the new restrictions on indoor dining and other measures. Would you say that was the overwhelming majority of the public comments at yesterday's meeting.

Speaker 2: 03:18 There were quite a few people who were very angry and, and, you know, and I'm several accused health officials specifically butWhen of twisting the numbers to, to fit their agenda. But, you know, others were upset that they had invested in these safety measures that their businesses have been adhering to the public health orders, but they still have to shut down because other people may have not been following the rules. And, you know, a lot of people were angry about the latest round of restrictions, which did come down from the state supervisor, Christine bar, even pointed that out in our comments and sort of defended Wooten that these latest decisions weren't up to her, um, in several workers from effected industries called in and said they, they were worried about their safety. Um, you know, a nurse called in that restrictions are important to protect medical workers and the healthcare system senior citizen called in and said that, you know, his life matter too. And he hoped people would, would do something as simple as wearing masks to protect vulnerable residents like him.

Speaker 1: 04:11 The supervisors backed up dr. Wooten, but also voted to bring in an outside epidemiologist to weigh in on the county's COVID numbers. That seems like a contradiction. So what was the reasoning behind that?

Speaker 2: 04:24 A supervisor Kristen gas bar proposed bringing in an outside party to look at our data and do a high and an in depth analysis. And the supervisor, Nathan flincher pointed out that this seems like a contradiction when they expressed support early on for Wuhan. You know, he said the board gave it support to her and her team, but was voting to look into hiring someone else for an independent analysis of her team's data. So we made that statement, but there wasn't much response. They just move forward, took the vote and it passed four to one with him voting against. And this, this would be for the staff to look into hiring someone and bring back what it would cost. This does not mean that they are actually going to hire somebody that will be discussed likely at the next meeting next month,

Speaker 1: 05:08 Besides the public comment and the support for dr. Wooten, uh, there was also an approval of $17 million in grants approved by the board yesterday for businesses and an additional 48 million in the pipeline from the federal cares program. How are the supervisors thinking of using that money?

Speaker 2: 05:28 So $17 million is going to go to support businesses that can show that they were affected. They are facing financial hardship because of COVID couple of requirements. They gotta be a hundred or fewer employees actually headquartered in San Diego and have been open for at least a year. But then the other, um, the cares act funding about 48 million, um, supervisor Nathan Fletcher proposed. We spend these on, uh, daycares and testing in schools and food services specifically wants 25 million to help daycare providers get back up and running. And this is how he explained how that could be spent.

Speaker 3: 06:03 This will be available to cover costs, including, but not limited to staffing supplies, business resilience, mortgage, and rental assistance, or capital improvements related to outdoor areas.

Speaker 2: 06:13 There was also, you know, the Fletcher wanted to propose a proposed 5 million for testing and schools, and then the other 18.8 million to support food services like food banks or meal programs for seniors, um, and, and possibly some of that funding to be considered for testing at the border. But the motion was just to direct County staff to, to propose a spending plan that would accomplish these things. That'll come back before the board in August, and it could look a little bit different in terms of specifics and exact amounts. And finally, Taren talked to us about the apparent log jam in testing in San Diego, the testing centers are being swamped, right? We're seeing, you know, when, uh, the County reports, all of these new cases, there's often an asterick about, uh, with all of the total amounts of tests that it includes batches of prior tests. And we've seen that a lot of these days. And so some of these testing centers are getting backed up. They have so many people seeking testing, so that's a great thing. We want more people to get tested, but the turnaround time is just kind of getting longer and longer and that's resulting in a delay of some results coming in. And so they're batched with other day's results. Okay. Then I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Taran mento, Taran. Thank you very much. Thanks Maureen.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.