San Diego Converts Golden Hall To Shelter, Prepares For More COVID-19 Cases
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / March 23, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:00 This is KPBS and, and this is mid day edition. We're making some changes to midday edition to respond to the coven 19 virus. First of all, co-host Jade Heineman is working from home. I'm Marine and we are not having guests in studio. We're contacting them remotely, reaching them by Skype or zoom, even telephone. And we're doing something else so we haven't done in a long while. We're taking your calls during some segments of the show, asking you to join the conversation with your comments and observations about living with the spread of the Kovac 19 virus. Our phone number to call in is +1 888-895-5727. Again, that's one eight eight eight eight nine five K PBS. And we're going to start off with KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen, who's been monitoring the joint San Diego city and County news conference on the homeless. And Andrew, welcome to the program. Hi Marine. Thank you. What were the takeaways from the news conference?
Speaker 2: 01:04 Well, the big news is that the city of San Diego is going to be repurposing the entirety of golden hall, uh, which is, uh, a building right next to city hall, um, on C street. Uh, typically it's used for large events. We just, uh, had, uh, an election. We had some coverage of election night there or they have big swearing in ceremonies for a new American citizens. And uh, they've, uh, placed beds on the ground floor, uh, about 240 beds. We heard, uh, that will be used for, uh, it will be used or repurposed essentially as a new homeless shelter, uh, after that. And that, and this is expected to happen fairly soon, it sounds like, uh, in addition to that, the city is also going to be a deputy or re-purposing the San Diego convention center. Of course, many conventions, if not all of them at this point have been canceled because of restrictions on travel and on or restrictions on a large, and at this point, even small gatherings, people.
Speaker 2: 02:05 So the convention center, it's at this point is pretty much sitting idle and the city is seeing that as an opportunity to allow, uh, you know, more space, uh, for homeless individuals who of course are at a particular disadvantage. And, and at a very high risk with this disease, many homeless individuals are older or elderly, meaning they're more likely to, uh, face severe complications from COBIT 19 and many of them also have underlying health conditions. Living on the streets can really do a number on your health of course. So, um, it sounds like their goal is to scale up the convention center that it, that means at the very beginning they will be transitioning people who are right now in the existing shelter system, uh, many of those shelters are, uh, pretty much at capacity or over capacity. And, uh, the people who are, they're unable to practice a proper social distancing, meaning an infection, uh, in the shelter could spread quite quickly.
Speaker 2: 03:07 So there'll be transitioning people in the existing shelter system into golden hall and, uh, ended to the convention center when, once that is ready. And then after that point, they'll also start taking individuals who are unsheltered at this point who are living on the streets. So the bridge shelters aren't necessarily closing, is that right? That's right. So, and, and the bridge shelters, so these are four at this point. Uh, there are four a bridge shelters. They're essentially industrial tents, uh, at various locations throughout the city. And, uh, they are going to be used, uh, as those, as the homeless individuals who are staying in those bridge shelters transition into golden hall. And later on the convention center, um, those sites with the, you know, the big tents, um, will be used. Uh, what they, what we learned today, there'll be used as tree hour centers.
Speaker 2: 03:58 So individuals who are unsheltered at this point, we'll be able to go to those places. If they're experiencing any kind of symptoms, they'll be able to, uh, get a screening from a public health nurse. And, um, and if they are showing any symptoms, there'll be, um, quickly placed in one of these, uh, several hundred more, almost 2000 at this point, uh, hotel and motel rooms, uh, reserved for people who are showing symptoms of coronavirus or, uh, people who have already tested positive. Do we know if the coven 19 virus has taken a hold in San Diego's homeless population? We don't at this point. And our reporter, Matt Hoffman, who was actually at this press conference and asked that exact question, have we seen any homeless individuals test positive for [inaudible] 19. Oh, what we heard from mayor Faulkner was at this point, he doesn't believe. So, um, we of course know that there, uh, the number of positive tests and uh, for Corona virus at this point in the city of San Diego, just yesterday, we got the latest numbers, which is 205 positive tests.
Speaker 2: 05:06 We know pretty much for a fact that there are many more people who are infected with the Corona virus at this point, but are simply unable to get tested because the tests are being reserved for the people who are, uh, who, who meet certain criteria if they've traveled recently or if they have, uh, had contact with someone who has tested positive for Corona virus. So we don't know, I guess is the answer if there is infection that's being spread in the homeless community. But it sounds like what the city is expecting at this point is that that is a very likely possibility. And as soon as the, as the, you know, if and when the, the a virus does start spreading in the homeless community, uh, it could have very, very serious implications for unsheltered individuals, which is why they're trying to get the shelter capacity up and running very soon. Senate president
Speaker 1: 05:58 pro tem Tony Atkins was also at this news conference. What is the state doing?
Speaker 2: 06:04 Data's been trying to, uh, provide some funding. There is existing state funding streams for a homeless. The services, uh, she says she's been in frequent communication with the governor. Um, and uh, so I, I guess there's probably going to be some level of state support for all of this funding. We know that the state that this, the County of San Diego was selected, uh, yesterday, this came out in the press conference yesterday. Um, this, this County of San Diego was, uh, selected by the state, uh, to create 250 new hospital beds. Um, this would, uh, they're trying to find sites for this at this point. Um, either, uh, you know, maybe the parking lots at, uh, the existing hospitals or a standalone station, uh, a sort of, um, make sure of hospital somewhere else in the County. But the state has been, uh, at this point manly, um, working to provide funding for things. I think that, um, that the County and city are implementing
Speaker 1: 07:03 you. Uh, you noted, Andrew, that we, you gave us the statistics of how the numbers in San Diego we discovered sad news over the weekend that San Diego has its first recorded covert 19 death. What do we know about that?
Speaker 2: 07:18 Yes. This, uh, news came out yesterday during the, uh, County press conference. The County county's been holding daily press conferences at 2:30 PM. Um, we learned that the first person, uh, to die from COBIT 19, uh, in the County of San Diego, actually he was not in San Diego County. Uh, this was a man who was in his early seventies, and he was being cared for in Santa Clara County. So this, I guess, message was transmitted from Sarah Coyne, Santa Clara County down to San Diego County that San Diego County residents, uh, in his seventies had died from the Corona virus. Uh, we know that he, uh, it was mentioned that he had recently traveled from Hawaii. Uh, so that's about all we know at this point. Um, they, they're, they haven't given a name and I don't think we necessarily need to know that information, but, um, you know, the, the fact that he was in the early seventies certainly speaks to, uh, what we know of the, of the virus, which is that, um, older people are more likely to die from the Quran virus. Uh, we should also mention, however
Speaker 1: 08:22 drew, we have no time for that right now. [inaudible] no time for that right now. I really appreciate your information. I've been speaking with Andrew Bowen, KPBS Metro reporter.
The city of San Diego announced Monday the entirety of Golden Hall and parts of the Convention Center will be converted to homeless shelters with hundreds of beds as the city rushes to prepare for what health officials are describing as a storm on the horizon with the COVID-19 pandemic.