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California’s Plans To Reopen, Bending The Curve, Coronavirus In Jail And Housing Market Under COVID-19

 April 14, 2020 at 11:31 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 State Senate leader, Tony Atkins, on tracking spending to fight the Corona virus and good news. The level of new COBIT 19 cases continues to decline. I'm Mark Sauer along with Ellison st John. This is KPBS mid day edition. It's Tuesday, April 14th. Here's governor Gavin Newsome today. Speaker 2: 00:28 Individuals through the extraordinary behavior, millions of you, uh, because you have practice physical distancing, the stay at home orders, you have bent the curve in the state of California. Uh, the models have changed because of your behavior. Speaker 1: 00:44 Newsome said state leaders will focus on six key measures in easing life in California back toward normal. First, expand testing for COBIT 19 who has the disease and who has already had it. Second, vigilant protection of the most vulnerable seniors. Those with underlying conditions, the homeless jail inmates. Third, hospitals need to be able to handle surges and infections as restrictions on the stay at home order our East, especially with beds and personal protection equipment. Fourth, continue working with academia and research institutions, including the UC system and scripts here in San Diego on treatment therapies and a vaccine. Fifth redraw floor plans, ed businesses, and then all public facilities including schools to ensure needed physical distancing and sixth have the capacity to reinstate more vigorous controls on public movement should we see a surge and Corona virus infections. The governor said he shares all Californians anxiety on getting back toward normal, getting the economy going again, but it may be necessary to toggle back and forth from less restrictive measures to title ones. He said as we head toward an ultimate vaccine and herd immunity against this deadly disease. Earlier today I spoke with state Senate president pro tem Tony Atkins of San Diego about lifting California's COBIT 19 restrictions and the state's response to the pandemic. Here's that interview. Well, governor Newsome says he's working with Oregon and Washington on a regional plan to lift the coronavirus restrictions. What sort of indicators are you looking out for in order to consider easing restrictions on reopening parts of the economy? Speaker 3: 02:24 Well, I think it's going to be a direction from our healthcare experts. Uh, the public health issue is, I think key. I mean, even our federal reserve chair, Jerome Powell, the California legislative analyst's office, gave headache. Both have said that the virus is going to dictate where we go as it relates to the economy. So I imagine they will be following, you know, those directives. And, and that's what I'm looking to. Uh, Speaker 1: 02:51 now the president says he has ultimate authority on when to reopen the economy. You think it's up to the president or the States? Speaker 3: 02:58 Well, I think our governor has provided excellent leadership on this. Uh, I ha and I, I know that he is looking to the healthcare and the medical experts. He's working daily, uh, with those folks and, and I trust his ability to, uh, lead California in the right direction. Speaker 1: 03:16 And we're looking at a regional plan here as the governor outlined yesterday, uh, with Oregon and Washington. We've seen six States do a similar a plan in the Northeast. Uh, do you think the shared regional approach will be a tougher for the president? Should he want to, uh, override this a state approach than an individual state plan might be? Speaker 3: 03:37 You know, I think as, as we see what continues to happen across the country, uh, we will realign ourselves, uh, hopefully together in the same direction. I think, you know, I give a lot of credit to, to uh, our governor and his ability to work with the federal administration. We are going to need to work together going forward because you know, the stimulus that Congress and the and the federal administration, the president has advanced is critical for us at the state level. We may be a nation state, but California is going to count on that kind of support. So I feel optimistic. We will find a way to come through this then out of this together because I know the president may be listening to a, some in the business community. They're anxious, we are all anxious. Uh, but our anxiety has not. We have got to not let our anxiety give way to coming back too soon, too quickly because the impact of that economically as well as as health wise could actually be devastating to us. Speaker 1: 04:41 Now this week, a state Senate subcommittee, it's going to be begin work to examine state spending on Corona virus. Describe the work of this new committee. What's its mission statement as it were? Speaker 3: 04:51 It's a special budget committee, uh, made up of the chair of the budget committee, the sub chairs and our Republican counterparts. Uh, so there will be a hearing in Sacramento that focuses mostly on what resources have been spent to date the governor under emergency declaration powers and the budget that we allocated on March 16th one point $1 billion. It's to evaluate how those resources have been spent, what we need to do going forward and how we tailor our focus on, uh, the immediate needs, uh, and prepare as we do go back, uh, to Sacramento to take up the budget and we are waiting on the governor's may revision to the budget, which will become our workload budget. So we're preparing to alter the way we look at things through the specific lens of what we need to do in the short term related to California's budget, our expenditures today, uh, including the emergency funds, uh, given to the governor. And what that may mean in terms of our rainy day fund. Um, you, we, we went into a this year with a $21 billion reserve, part of the rainy day fund that voters supported, uh, that we put into place. And we're now at about 17 point $5 billion. So we want to be very, um, focused and specific about how we use those resources. Speaker 1: 06:17 Questions have been raised about the $1 billion deal. The governor announced for a personal masks and PPE. Some lawmakers said the, there are very little details provided on the amount and the terms of the purchases, that's something the committee will be looking at. Speaker 3: 06:31 Absolutely. Uh, I think it's one of the reasons we've decided we need to have the committee hearing. Uh, so that we have questions answered. We are getting a lot of those answers from the governor's office. His staff is providing it and you know, we want to give him the flexibility to do this work. It is his charge as governor of the state. And, uh, you know, the issue is getting that equipment out to the people on the front lines who need them. You know, and I think that he has shown he's doing that, but we do have a responsibility to, to take a look at it and determine how the money's being spent and where the resources best need to be used. So we'll be taking a look at that on Thursday as well so that the public also gets to see that's our responsibility. It's oversight. Uh, it's transparency and the ability to make sure that the information is getting out there, we can share it with citizens, constituents and the press. Frankly, Speaker 1: 07:26 that was a lesson learned from this pandemic that California needs its own stockpile of PPE and ventilators and other necessary medical items. Speaker 3: 07:34 I think that is true and I think we have had a stockpile of certain types of equipment, but, uh, you know, clearly that's going to be one of the charges of a committee that, uh, you know, that we're, that I will be announced and, uh, later this week to look specifically at pandemic response, emergency preparedness. And that will be the we, you know, we have in the past had our own mobile hospitals. Uh, and the question is do we have those stage North and South and central California where it is? So all of that falls under the office of emergency services. And I think, uh, part of this is going to be what type of, and and to make sure that that equipment doesn't expire. I mean those are all issues that we're going to need to evaluate going forward. Three evaluate Speaker 1: 08:23 and what does the crisis mean for some of your biggest legislative priorities? I read that you're asking for non coronavirus bills to be put on pause. Speaker 3: 08:32 The economics of our state going forward has obviously changed. We had a 350% increase loan last week in claims for unemployment at EDD. So we know that the world is going to change before us. And so some of the pieces of legislation that may have called for new programs, new approaches to things that cost money, we're going to have to reevaluate. And frankly, you know, we don't know what our legislative calendar is going to look like. It's still unclear to us. Uh, we have a May 4th date to return to the Capitol, but you know, we won't know, uh, that's unfolding before us week by week based on what's happening, uh, from, you know, the healthcare perspective and the virus. So we may have to alter our legislative calendar. Uh, we will not have the ability to hear thousands of bills, a couple thousand bills. So our focus will be to look at, um, the critical issues and that is fire prevention and safety. Speaker 3: 09:33 Uh, housing of course, critical issue. Uh, what we're going to do in terms of our healthcare system and programs. Uh, clearly our hospitals have been put, uh, at the brink because they've had to refocus all of their efforts towards, uh, hospital beds for the surge ICU beds and they haven't been doing other surgeries, elective and other kind of routine things. So that has, that is going to impact them financially. So everything we do is gonna have to be through the lens of is it really necessary? How does it affect California's fiscal situation and the critical issues that we know we face fire health care, uh, obviously we're going to have to continue to work on housing. We were in the midst of a housing crisis that's just going to get worse. Speaker 4: 10:17 A lot of work and a lot of answers to come. Well I've been speaking with state Senate president pro tem, Tony Atkins. Thanks very much Speaker 3: 10:25 Mark. Thank you. Always good to talk with you. Speaker 5: 10:30 [inaudible] Speaker 6: 10:33 as we tended to really start talking about when it might be safe to start lifting the statewide stay at home order. All eyes are on the numbers. How fast are new cases doubling? How rapidly are hospital beds filling up. Joining us as well, hunt spree voice of San Diego reporter who's done a lot of work with the San Diego County data the last few weeks to see where we are on that. All important curve will. Thanks for joining us. Happy to be here. So what would you say are the most important numbers to look at to get a sense of where we are at countywide? Is it the number of new cases, the overall cases, the number of people who've died? Speaker 4: 11:08 Yeah, that's a tricky question. Um, and I think that one of the best numbers you can look at is hospitalizations because that number is not affected by testing data. The death data is tricky because it's kind of far behind. But I think if we look at the hospitalization data and the new cases data, what it tells us is that the number of new cases is shrinking and the curve is flattening in San Diego as of the most recent weeks data. Speaker 6: 11:40 So your analysis does show that their curve is beginning to flatten, but how confident are you that that assessment is a true reflection of what's going on? Speaker 4: 11:49 I feel very confident for a couple of reasons that that's a fair. The new cases data shows us that the curve is flattening. The hospitalization data shows us that the curve is flattening and a County officials are also saying that the curve is flattening. And I think they're looking at slightly more advanced data behind the scenes that we don't see. That certainly does not mean we're out of the woods. You know, that's not a, I think what anyone is saying. I think if we were to undo all our social distance thing measures, epidemiologists say that the curve would stay in straight up again and this a virus could come roaring back on us. Speaker 6: 12:30 No, Eric McDonald of the County said last month that we likely had 10 times more cases than what the testing was showing, but he did revise that number yesterday. Is that because there's more testing going on? Speaker 4: 12:41 Well, testing is one of the big unanswered questions in this whole thing. Honestly. Um, you know, if you look at the test, the number of tests we've been doing on a daily basis, it's really very up and down between 800 a day and about 1500 a day. And there hasn't been a lot of consistency there. So I think one of the big questions going forward is how are we going to truly increase testing capacity so that we know when it's safe for people to start coming out of isolation. Speaker 6: 13:15 Right. McDonald did say that that figure of the number of more cases that are being tested has been revised to perhaps two to four times as many as, as we've actually got a pretty big drop. What are some of the other shortcomings of the data that we have from the County? Speaker 4: 13:32 Well, it's really hard to understand the growth, right? On a day to day basis. You know, the, the numbers of new cases are fairly erratic and so as, as you pointed out, as the test data, as the number of tests changes every day, that changes the reliability of the numbers that are coming out. But, uh, the doubling right in hospitalizations for the past seven days was 13 days. So that means that if the growth rate of the past week stayed the same, the number of new cases would double every 13 days. The County has shown us projections that a six day doubling rate could be devastating to our hospital system. But this 13 day doubling rates seems to be something that we could beat our hospitals can sustain, where they could continue treating all the patients they need to. It gives other people time to get better and get out of the hospital so other people can use those beds. Um, so that 13 day doubling right is, is a pretty solid number and it's pretty encouraging, I would say. Speaker 6: 14:38 Are the curves that you're seeing for San Diego County similar to the rate of spread in other regions? Other cities? Speaker 4: 14:44 Not at all. I mean, you know, that is one of the mysteries I think of this virus. Epidemiologists want to eventually unravel, unravel it. If you look at the curve in New York, I mean it's looked to like the side of a building at times. I mean, their cases were doubling every couple of days and the curve was just going straight up. And, uh, you see other cities, uh, you know, new Orleans where it's been closer to a 45 degree angle. Um, and, and our curve started out, you know, roughly on a 45 degree angle. Um, but then as I say, over the last week, it does, it has flattened, you know, the, the doubling rate now is somewhere above 13 days. And in previous weeks we were seeing a doubling, right of seven days or before that even five days. And if we'd have stayed on that five day doubling rate curve, it could've just been a disaster for our hospitals. And like I said, of course, you know, this is a over, if we stopped social distancing now the curve could really come roaring back. Speaker 6: 15:46 Yes. I mean, remind us again, why is it that when we see is the curve flattening like this? We should not assume that it's time to get back to back Speaker 4: 15:53 to normal? Well, um, because it really looks like the social distancing measures that we've put in place are what has flattened the curve. You know, we started putting our social distancing measures in place well ahead of New York in terms of where they were at on their own curve. And, and that seems to have worked and we see that from a number of data points. Um, flu cases are down as well right now from where they were last year, which indicates social distance thing is working. So, so if that's what's helping flatten our curve, if we were to undo that, it just follows that, that the curve would, uh, the, the curve flattening would undo itself as well. And we could be in a really big predicament. You know, we don't know how this virus travels in the spring and the summer. I think there are a lot of unanswered questions about that going forward, but I think we certainly know right now that we would be at grave risk. We stopped social distancing Speaker 6: 16:51 and I, I guess a lot of people are wondering if flattening the curve automatically means that it'll go on longer. Uh, might it not mean just that there are fewer cases hospitalized overall? Speaker 4: 17:02 I th I think it could mean that, um, I think that ideally as you said, the, we wanted to flatten the curve and make this go on longer. I mean that was actually the idea Dr. McDonald said with the County is that if we make, make this whole process last longer, which is agonizing, we give the hospitals a better chance to actually be able to absorb all of the patients. And, um, I think that as I mentioned before, the way we begin to come out of this is to have widespread testing available so we can rule out people who are asymptomatic and say, okay, we know this person is safe to come out of isolation. And, and that's the big plan I think that we're all looking for from the County is when will we get widespread testing Speaker 6: 17:50 so that we can begin to slowly and safely, um, start things back to normal, so to speak. Well, we'll, thanks so much for helping us keep track of the numbers. Absolutely. Thank you. That's we'll hunt spree with voice of San Diego. You're listening to midday edition. I am Alison st John along with Mark Sauer. Many families are struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic, but military families face some unique challenges. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh says the virus has placed extra burdens on younger military families who were already struggling to make ends meet. Speaker 7: 18:27 No. Speaker 8: 18:28 Or a white is working in the back room of a storefront office since San Diego. Our information, all the sleeves a diapers. So when they get in, they know who they came from and if we can help whites, groups, DEP councils, members of the military in financial trouble. The reason weeks, a lot of their effort has gone into providing care packages with basic necessities that families caught off guard by Corona virus. Speaker 7: 18:52 What we're seeing is definitely a little bit of panic as we all are kind of feeling these days, but another level with our military families, because they have some stricter stay at home rules. You know when your spouse is deployed and you're still a parent, we don't want that parent here to get sick, Speaker 8: 19:09 so they're delivering to single parents who are often living far from their own extended families. In late March, secretary of defense, Mark Esper imposed a 60 day stop movement order throughout the world. At least 90,000 service members were caught up in the restriction. People were frozen in place. Kathleen Martinez, his husband is a Marine officer at camp Pendleton North of San Diego. He was supposed to deploy overseas for the first time. Now that's on hold. Speaker 7: 19:36 We were planning to have me go live back in the Midwest while he's deployed to be near family because it is the first deployment. I'm a little nervous about it. Um, we don't have any family or a support system out here, so we thought that would be a smart idea Speaker 8: 19:50 in San Diego where vacancy rates remain low, they're at least full run out at the end of the month. They can continue to lease month to month, but their landlord has already told her it will be significantly more expensive. Speaker 7: 20:02 Feel stuck, uncertain. Uh, everything is up in the air. I'm a planner and I can't plan right now, so that's a little nerve wracking, just not knowing what's next. Speaker 8: 20:14 The secretary's order came down so quickly. Some families were stuck mid move, some arrived in San Diego before their furniture, other sailors and Marines had set up their new places and were ready to move when the order came down. Blue star families, a military support group is asking families about the disruption caused by COBIT 19 in the militaries for response. Jessica Strong is the senior researcher for the survey Speaker 9: 20:39 because this stop movement order, people are not able to move from one place to another. If you were caught in the middle of that right now, 21% of our respondents in our week one said that they will be paying two rents or mortgages in the next 60 days after they've just lost a position or lost half their income. That that's not easy to do. Speaker 8: 20:56 By the second week of the survey, 37% of respondents said their spouse had become unemployed. About a third say they plan to dip into savings. Speaker 9: 21:05 There's a lot of financial repercussions. People are without housing or unable to make rent or unable to afford food even Speaker 8: 21:12 or a white with the group that helps. Military families says denial plays a big role in compounding financial problems. She seen people's stack, unopened bills. When they know they can't pay. Speaker 7: 21:23 We want you to take a deep breath and realize that the, a big part of the world is just come to a hole so you're not in any different situation than a lot of other people. Get them in order and start making phone calls to each one of those people and talk about your situation. You're going to be able to put something on hold. You're going to be able to come up with some payment plans Speaker 8: 21:40 if a creditor won't work with you. The next step is to contact state or federal consumer protection offices. New laws have put temporary holds on some evictions. People in the military should also reach out to their command. Above all else, white says, try to stay calm. There are solutions. Steve Walsh, KPBS news Speaker 6: 22:00 we have with us now is Steve Walsh. Steve, thanks for joining us. Hi Alison. So tell us about this stop movement order. Who does it affect and what exactly does it mean? Speaker 10: 22:10 Well, it affects really everyone in the U S military. On March 25th, secretary of defense, Mark Esper put this stop movement order in place. Uh, it meant that people who were in Europe could not trans port to the United States. People who are in Afghanistan, uh, in most cases could not come back to the States. Uh, people who are in the middle of moving from one side of the country to the other were basically frozen where they are. Speaker 6: 22:37 So for those who are here in San Diego, frozen here in San Diego, would you say that, uh, the military families have a particularly challenging situation to deal with because they're often living far from home then and in very unfamiliar communities? Speaker 10: 22:52 Right. Well, San Diego is still an expensive place to live. We talked with one military spouse. She was expecting to give up her apartment here at the end of may. She was going to go live with family in the Midwest while her husband, uh, deployed overseas. Now they're, they're stuck with the idea that they might have to go month to month, which is a, an expensive proposition here in San Diego. We have people who were caught on one side of the country. They may have moved their furniture to San Diego, but they're stuck on the, on the East coast. You have people here who have got to San Diego and then there was a stop moving order and so they're stuck paying rent in two different households in two different parts of the country. Speaker 6: 23:33 In the case of the young wife that you interviewed, she, she couldn't be evicted at this point while the pandemic is on, but perhaps the rent might ruin her credit if the rent goes up unexpectedly. [inaudible] Speaker 10: 23:45 depending on which program you're talking about. She cannot be evicted right now, but the bills still keep piling up. And we actually talked with some folks at blue star families. A lot of these groups that normally help military families and service people who are deployed overseas have kind of switched years in the last month or so to try to help people who are caught up in a pandemic. So, um, they, blue star families now has a survey out and in the third week just came out or they look at some of the costs. We know that almost half of military families are already dipping into savings. We've seen a, obviously a number of military spouses lose their job in the private sector. Um, there are all sorts of problems. As you can imagine with childcare. People can't get onto base and get access to the childcare that they once had. You've got a spouse that's now deploying who's who may be stuck and let's say on a ship like the U S as Truman, much longer than they were expecting a, it's, it creates some very special circumstances that really, even though everyone is kind of in this together, there are some very special circumstances for military families. Speaker 6: 24:54 So is it true to say that a lot of the families affected here are perhaps young families who are just getting started with their financial lives and are really not equipped to deal with this kind of a financial uncertainty and shock? Speaker 10: 25:07 Some of these families were having a hard time making it in San Diego before all of this happened. San Diego is a very pretty place. It's, it's sought after, but it's a very, as we all know, it's also a very expensive place to live in and people who come from different parts of the country are actually quite shocked at how much it costs to live here. And on the flip side, we've already seen a number of spouses here, just it through a BlueStar who have lost their their civilian job. Now this is already a problem for us. Military spouses, they end up moving from different, different parts of the country and so they have a hard time finding jobs. So that puts a lot of stress financially on, I'm not especially a younger family in the lower pay grades. Speaker 6: 25:52 We, we know that young members in the military are notoriously vulnerable to payday loan stores. They tend to proliferate right around the Gates of the basis. Could it mean that some of them are getting deeper and deeper in debt when they just cannot manage these financial challenges? Do they risk being taken advantage of by unscrupulous loan companies? Do you think? Speaker 10: 26:11 They certainly do and there are some already. We're starting to see that some, a scams are circulating that are targeting members in the military offering, uh, different programs to help, you know, mitigate some of the issues with COBIT 19. The department of defense has as put out some alerts, warning troops that uh, um, they may be taken advantage of. Speaker 6: 26:32 Do you know about the Marines who are still in the barracks on base and how they are quarantining? Speaker 10: 26:37 Certainly if you're still coming from, let's say Afghanistan, you do have to quarantine for 14 days. Um, these are often very cramped conditions. You, you see a lot of things leaking out on social media where people feel that they're, they're kind of isolated and they don't really know very much about what's going on. There are groups, uh, that, uh, normally help military when they're overseas in Afghanistan and now some of them are switching gears like the USO to providing care packages to troops who were quarantining right here in San Diego. Speaker 6: 27:11 What other resources do young military families have to pull on right now? Speaker 10: 27:16 Well, they tell people that you should do what everyone else is doing. You should contact a state or or federal organizations that are geared toward helping all of us get through the pandemic. In the case of military, you should also go to your command and then there's groups like step here in San Diego that will counsel military families to try to give them a leg up and with different methods that they can use to sort of keep creditors at Bay right now because there are solutions available to people. Speaker 6: 27:45 Well, Steve, thanks so much for keeping an eye on all this. This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting Speaker 5: 28:05 [inaudible]. Speaker 1: 28:07 Those confined in close quarters like Navy ships and nursing homes are especially vulnerable to an outbreak of COBIT 19 and that's certainly true in County jails. The San Diego County Sheriff's office says it's responding with face masks for guards and inmates, broad testing prompt medical attention and hygiene kits for prisoners, but County inmates tell a different story. Joining me is freelance journalists. Kelly Davis, who story with watchdog reporter Jeff McDonald appeared on Sunday in the San Diego union Tribune. Kelly, welcome to midday. Speaker 11: 28:39 Hi. Thank you. Speaker 1: 28:41 Well, India reporting on coven 19, inside the County jails, you found wildly divergent stories. Tell us first about the jail system. How many jails, how many inmates? What are they generally in there for? Speaker 11: 28:52 Yeah, so the, the San Diego County jail system, there's, there's seven jails and they normally hold about 5,300 5,400 inmates. And, uh, of that population, um, about two thirds. Um, you know, it changes, I mean, now that about two thirds of them haven't been sentenced, so they're, they're awaiting trial waiting to go through the, the court process. Um, but you also have people who are in on probation violations. You have these, uh, they call them book and released inmates, uh, who might be just spending a night in jail. You know, these are usually homeless folks, people who are arrested for being drunk in public. So, um, yeah, so a whole range. Speaker 1: 29:33 And the department says five employees, three inmates, a tested positive so far. Uh, what adjustments is the department made to find and limit exposure. Speaker 11: 29:42 They're, they're trying to release people that they feel they could safely release so that you don't have, you know, multiple people in a cell or 50 or 60 guys and kind of a open, uh, dorm style space, Speaker 1: 29:56 an increase in testing or isolation since the, uh, positive, uh, test came back. Speaker 11: 30:02 Right now they, they tell us there are about 47 inmates who are in quarantine. I'm kind of a precautionary measure. Um, they've set aside 228 beds for anyone who needs to be isolated. Um, and yeah, like as you mentioned, five, five guards have tested positive and so for, uh, deputies, uh, who work in the jails, uh, before they start their shift, it'll get their, their temperature checked each day. And, um, yeah, as I mentioned, they're, they're wearing masks and gloves as they do their work. Speaker 1: 30:36 Now what have you discovered about conditions in the jails from inmates and their families? And talk about the basics. You mentioned masked soap and water. Speaker 11: 30:45 Yeah, we have Jeff McDonna and I have just been inundated with, with phone calls, emails, letters from inmates and from their family members. And there's a lot of concern. Um, the jail took a while to get the masks distributed. Uh, one inmate told me that they were promised the masks would be cleaned every, every, twice a week, but he, he told me they haven't. Um, so the inmates have taken to cleaning the masks themselves. Um, that SIM same inmate told me that he's been using his commissary money to buy, um, dial antibacterial soap, which he passes out to other folks in his module. Um, sicker inmates are being cared for by the inmates who are, you know, able bodied. But there's concern that some of those sicker inmates could have over 19 and they're just not being tested. Uh, there's a lot of concern over cleanliness and how well the, the modules and the cells are being sanitized. There's just a lot of, um, it almost verges on panic, especially, you know, we're hearing from, um, you know, wives of, of, uh, old or inmates who have a long list of health issues and they're really worried that their, um, you know, their husband or their [inaudible] or their, their nephew's health is compromised and they're kind of, you know, as we say in the story, just, um, sitting ducks for catching Corona virus. Speaker 1: 32:26 And what does the Sheriff's department say about these complaints? Speaker 11: 32:30 They, they insist that they're there, you know, they're doing the best they can in a kind of, um, unexpected, unprecedented, um, you know, and, and, and they say that they're all inmates who exhibit flu, like symptoms are, are directed to go see the nurse. Um, they're placed in isolation. If, if those symptoms seem to be coven 19 related as far as testing goes, a medical provider, a physician will have to be the one that recommends that someone gets tested. And, uh, I think a lot of inmates are saying that even if someone's so symptoms, they're not necessarily being allowed to go to the infirmary and they're not necessarily, um, being able to get tested. You know, I talked to one inmate and now as we were talking, he says, there's a guy over here on the floor and he's just coffee and coffee and coffee and, and no one's doing anything about it. Speaker 1: 33:33 Do they hope testing? I mean, testing has been a problem here across the state, across the nation. They hope testing will, uh, will improve as more tests are become available. Speaker 11: 33:43 I, I guess. Yeah. You know, and initially they said they were only testing people who had a preexisting conditions and, and, uh, they were being very kind of careful with, with testing. Um, now they've expanded. They say they've expanded it to anyone who shows symptoms. Uh, but so far, only about of five dozen, about a little over 60, uh, inmates have been tested according to the numbers that they've provided us, which seems low given, um, you know, a jail population of about 4,300 and you still have dozens of people coming in and, and going out and, and cycling through each day. So, um, I think, yeah, like I said, 68 tests that seems kind of low for a, uh, congregate living facility where you've got people constantly coming and going. Speaker 1: 34:39 And some families, they inmates pictured in your story. I told you something happened after it was published. A, what did they say? Speaker 11: 34:46 Yeah, so you could do a, uh, a video visit with inmates. Families are able to do that. And so multiple people, um, as they were doing, uh, the video visit with their loved one, uh, inmates would, would come in with signs and hold up signs. And so the, the, the person, the family member doing the video visit would take a photo. And so we've got in the story I think three or four photos of inmates holding up signs saying, you know, we don't deserve to die. You know, just kind of expressing concern, you know, kind of holding up the signs, expressing their concern. And we heard from, from multiple people that um, the inmates holding up those signs were placed in solitary confinement as punishment. We have not confirmed that with the department, Speaker 12: 35:38 but like I said, multiple unrelated people have told us that those inmates were put in isolation as punishment. Speaker 1: 35:45 Well, we'll look forward to a follow up here and see what happens going forward with, with the conditions in the jail. I've been speaking with freelance journalist Kelly Davis, who story with watchdog reporter Jeff McDonald appeared in the union Tribune on Sunday. Kelly, thanks very much. Speaker 12: 36:00 Thank you. Speaker 6: 36:01 Well, listening to midday edition, I'm Alison st John. Spring is usually a busy time in the real estate market and this year was initially shaping up to be a Bonanza for home sales in San Diego. But as we're all now hunkering down at home, how is spring turning out for the housing market? What impact will depend on MC have on the price of housing and San Diego in the immediate term and in the longterm here to give us a glimpse of what's happening in the real estate market is Phil Molnar real estate reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks for joining us, Phil. Speaker 12: 36:32 Yeah, thanks for having me. Elson Speaker 6: 36:34 so go ahead and describe how the housing market in San Diego was shaping up in January before all this started and how the pandemic and the quarantine have affected it. Speaker 12: 36:44 So it seemed like in the beginning of this year that the home price would just keep rising and nothing could stop it. Um, as of February, our median had reached by 187,000. So I mean, looking at the beginning of the year, I was starting to bet that we were going to hit 600,000 median home price by the end of the year. Um, at the end of last year, I was talking to a lot of economists every month and say, ah, you know, I think we've hit some affordability wall. I don't think the home price is going to keep going up, but month after month, the home price kept rising and it was really spurred on by strong job growth, low unemployment rate, and of course crazy low mortgage rates. So the market was doing really, really good at the beginning of the year. Speaker 6: 37:30 Then what happened? Speaker 12: 37:32 So then the Corona virus hit and we have seen things change quite a bit. Um, so for instance, uh, as of about the last, last month, 28 days, uh, 12% of all homes that had been on the market in San Diego have been taken off. And that compares to about 9% nationally. So a lot of what's going on there, I've been talking to real estate agents and the big thing is a lot of the home sellers just want to take the home off the market. Right now it's not gonna look good if it's been sitting there for a long time. And in some cases, real estate agents are actually telling their clients you might want to take the home off. Um, we've also seen the number of pending sales. This is about in the last two weeks, but the number of pending sales is down about 27% year over year. Speaker 12: 38:26 So we've seen a real slow down going on. Um, we don't have home price numbers yet for March, but we know from a lot of the studies, just some sort of simple things like you can see that Google searches are down for San Diego homes and I've been calling, I write about a story a day. So I call real estate agents almost every day. Say, Hey, what's going on? I've got a whole list of ones that I like to harass. And you know, the real estate agents just keep telling me story after story about people backing out because of the coronavirus. And one of the [inaudible] reasons is they might've had a lot of money in the stock market and even though they're not pulling their money out just right now or something like that, they're just worried about their [inaudible] future investments. So they don't want to be part of it. Um, there are people that have lost jobs, but in the San Diego market, a lot of the people that had not essential jobs weren't really in the homework in any ways. But there's a small percentage there. I haven't heard from anyone yet. This is interesting enough, I thought there might be some people backing out of trying to buy a home because they're afraid they might die. But I have not run into that yet. Speaker 6: 39:36 It's more likely they're wondering about whether it'll prove to be a good investment in the long term. And I know Phil, that you spoke to a number of one informed leaders in San Diego about whether they think that this will lower or raise prices in the long run. What did they tell you? Speaker 12: 39:51 Yeah, so the majority of people said that they thought it would be home prices would be lower by the end of the year. And they point to just this huge economic shock on San Diego County. And it's just, it's hard to, there's like a lot of dominoes. Like first you might just see the restaurant workers aren't buying homes and you might see yourself, Oh well you know, those restaurant workers were really in the market to buy a super overpriced Enneagram house. But you know, there's people that supply them and there's people that, you know, all tied to different industries that kind of go together. There are still a vocal majority of analysts out there that think there are so few homes in San Diego for so many people that want them that even this pandemic will not lower prices. But we'll have to wait and see because it's, it's been a tough thing to ask people as, as the weeks and months have gone by, I've asked the questions and I've seen the answers change and then they start to change more towards that. Home prices will be lower by the end of the year. However, I would not expect a major drop in prices. Nothing like we saw in 2000 2008 around then 2007 just because, um, the last recession was sort of built upon the home market. The home market basically took down the economy, whereas this time it's just sort of everything. So I guess what was after waiting to see, Speaker 6: 41:15 on the other hand, the federal stimulus payment of $1,200 won't go far in San Diego's real estate market for people who have got rent or mortgage to pay. Speaker 12: 41:24 I did a story recently that, you know, when gang busters that was about a San Diego landlord just telling all of his tenants, do you have no excuse not to pay rent? He put it in the body of an email. So we have it. And you know, he was citing the federal stimulus money and the federal stimulus on employment, but even at the apartment building that he had sent it to, I think the average rent there was around 1800 a month, but the stimulus package is $1,200. So yeah, it's, it's, it's tough to live in San Diego. And sure, the federal several was money is going to help a lot, a lot of people, but it's just not going to go as far easier. Speaker 6: 42:05 And Phil, I wanted to ask you, do you know what, uh, overall the banks are doing to help people who currently own homes, uh, keep up with their mortgages? Is, is there an interest in the banks to prevent another rave or foreclosures? Speaker 12: 42:19 Right. Yeah. Well, I mean even if they aren't as interested, I think they would rather have the person stay in their home than do a foreclosure just because of the added work. But under the cares act, which was passed, um, I guess about two weeks ago now by the federal government, it actually blocks a lender or a loan servicer from foreclosing on you for 60 days. That starving marching team. But almost all of the lenders, I haven't really found too many that are not doing it, but most of them are offering loan forbearance deferment for a period of time. Um, if you, you don't even have to provide documentation, you just need to say, uh, Oh yeah, cause a Corona virus. Um, I am not paying my mortgage for the next three months or whatever. Speaker 6: 43:05 But you do have to contact your lender to get that, uh, arrangements in place. Speaker 12: 43:10 God, if you're just sitting back and waiting for it, it's not gonna happen. You got to call your lender. The only bad thing about that, and I think it's going to have to depend on everybody reads it or whatever, but there isn't any sort of uniform payback. Um, some banks are doing something where it's like, okay, so you won't pay for three months, so we'll just tack a little bit on your payment for the next, you know, year or some say you have to pay us back at the end of three months. Give us all that money that we were owed. Um, so it is kind of rough. You got to pay it back and how you pay it back. Depending on your lender, you might want to ask him about that. Speaker 6: 43:47 Good. Well, thank you for your overview, Phil. Appreciate you giving us some of your insights. Thank you so much for having me. That was Phil Mollner real estate reporter for the San Diego union Tribune.

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As Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out the parameters to reopen the state, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkis created a subcommittee to review state spending related to the pandemic. Tentative talks about lifting shelter-in-place orders have people asking, have we flattened the curve? Plus, military families are struggling to make ends meet because of restrictions designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. Also, conditions at San Diego County jails are frightening inmates amid the coronavirus pandemic. And, the once-sizzling San Diego housing market is flaming out now, what should we expect to see next year?