Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Pop-Up Federal Field Hospital Planned for Escondido

Cover image for podcast episode

With cases of coronavirus expected to surge here in the coming weeks, officials Sunday announced plans to build a 250-bed federal hospital at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. Plus: lots of locals are stepping up to help by fostering dogs on a temporary basis and more local news you need.

Speaker 1: 00:01 A 250 bed federal field hospital is planned for Palomar medical center on Sunday. San Diego County health officials said the hospital within a hospital will be on stalled on the 10th and 11th floors of the Escondido facility. County supervisor Nathan Fletcher said it will be a fully functioning hospital and will add to the capacity of beds needed in the fight against the Corona virus pandemic.

Speaker 2: 00:24 The 250 bed a unit will be arriving at Palomar hospital. Hopefully within the next two weeks. This will be a regional tool

Speaker 1: 00:32 and this is one of a number of pop-up hospitals the federal government is giving to California. The fed supply all of the beds, medication and personal protective equipment. Last week the County ordered all employees at essential businesses that are open right now like grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies to wear cloth facial mask that cover their nose and mouth. County supervisor Greg Cox, as if people see workers not wearing masks, they can report the

Speaker 2: 01:00 our law enforcement will work first to educate these businesses when a complaint is received, but if they become repeat offenders, they will be cited. Again. Let me reiterate the Sheriff's message. The warnings are over.

Speaker 1: 01:15 Over the weekend, the Sheriff's department cited 25 people for violating the state's prohibition on public gatherings. Those citations come with $8,000 fine up to six months in jail or both. In an effort to get more medical supplies into the hands of hospital workers statewide. Amid the pandemic, governor Gavin Newsome has launched a website for people to donate and sell those supplies. The website Cobin 19 will allow residents and organizations to donate so or trade critical items like ventilators and 95 masks and testing materials and another local web resource for you. Supervisor Greg Cox announced Sunday a new online effort called live well at home live well at home as San Diego is to do things like join 30 day fitness challenges to start or join virtual book clubs or play games and otherwise virtually connect with friends and neighbors. Get the and for the latest Corona virus numbers. County officials on Sunday reported 117 new COBIT, 19 cases and one additional death. I'm Kenzie Morlan and you're listening to San Diego news matters. It's Monday, April 6th stay with me for more of the local news you need. Like most other things right now, local animal shelters are closed to visitors. KPBS reporter Claire trig is our says. This means shelter dogs aren't getting much attention right now, but many locals are stepping up to help by fostering dogs on a temporary basis. That's just my not

Speaker 3: 03:01 [inaudible],

Speaker 4: 03:01 just like most of us. Melanie Murnin is spending a lot of time at home these days, but she has some extra company

Speaker 3: 03:09 and then my foster dog, Charlie is down below here. Charlie, can you say hi? He's looking for a home, but wait, there's one more. He went to come out and say hi

Speaker 4: 03:21 her second foster dog. Third dog total baby girl hops out of her crate and goes straight from her. [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 03:29 straight, straight out. Oh, nurture giving me kisses on chicks. He is, we'll find you a home walk. We

Speaker 4: 03:36 Moraine has long worked with a dog rescue organization that takes dogs from local shelters and puts them temporarily in foster homes

Speaker 3: 03:44 and then promote them on social media. Either find a home for them, find a longterm foster or, or if nothing is found, they go back to the shelter, but with all sorts of notes on how great they are in a home and whether they can live with a cat or a dog or children.

Speaker 4: 04:02 Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, she's had a lot of company, lots of people are wanting to foster dogs. The San Diego humane society recently asked for foster volunteers and got more than 400 applications in the first few days. About half the animals in local shelters are now in foster homes. On March 11th before the stay at home orders 156 of the San Diego humane society animals were in foster homes. Now there are 332

Speaker 3: 04:36 and there was a dog that I had interacted with um, briefly when I was volunteering at the shelter and he was available.

Speaker 4: 04:44 Mary Mick Andrew is one of those new foster volunteers.

Speaker 3: 04:47 He was just a perfect match for me to take home.

Speaker 4: 04:50 She volunteers at an animal shelter but hadn't brought a foster dog home before. She says the new reality brought on by the Corona virus made it the right time to start.

Speaker 3: 05:01 We're home anyway. Um, especially for seniors. I mean, you can't see the grandkids. It can't hit go to yoga classes. There's so many things that can't do, but just spending time with the dog is, it's just really, it's fun and it's stimulating.

Speaker 4: 05:17 So Mick, Andrew and her husband fostered a German shepherd named Maverick.

Speaker 3: 05:22 We've been out walking every day. We've explored parts of our neighborhood that we had never seen before. We've been greeting our neighbors that we'd never met before or out on their porch and from we can chat with them like distance. We're meeting other people's pets. Um, it's just been, it's gotten us not to think about what we can't do, but what we can do.

Speaker 4: 05:45 Then Maverick was adopted, make. Andrew says she and her husband are already looking for another foster dog to bring home, even though you can't visit their shelters, you can adopt through organizations or the San Diego humane society. Spokeswoman Mina Thompson says their shelters are doing virtual adoptions.

Speaker 3: 06:06 You would have a really in depth consultation about the pet that you're interested in before you ever even come down. She says, although people can't browse animals at the shelter,

Speaker 4: 06:17 jurors adoptions haven't lagged significantly.

Speaker 3: 06:20 We've had more animals going out than we've had coming in.

Speaker 4: 06:25 Get Mani Marine's house. She's working to get foster dogs, Charlie boy and baby girl ready for forever homes.

Speaker 3: 06:34 She's 85 pounds overweight by about at least 20 pounds, so we're taking her for a short box each day working on her weight loss.

Speaker 4: 06:44 She says there are other dogs available for adoption to a mass diff named big Mac and an older boxer named DeNiro. Claire Trigere, sir KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 06:56 Well, you can't adopt dogs from the humane society shelters run by San Diego county's department of animal services have suspended adoptions and don't need any more foster volunteers. A spokesman for the County didn't return requests for comment about why advocates for people living in nursing homes say the California department of public health decision to stop sending inspectors into those facilities. Amid the coronavirus pandemic is a mistake, a mistake that could have deadly consequences? KPBS reporter, I meet, the Sharma explains

Speaker 5: 07:37 California public health officials say all routine state and federal surveys of nursing homes have been temporarily halted in response to the pandemic. They say they're still investigating incidents at the state's 1500 nursing homes through quote virtual audio or electronic methods, but advocates for residents at nursing homes say state surveyors need to be on site. Now more than ever, nursing homes are under lockdown to stop the spread of coven 19 family and friends can no longer visit residents. Michael Connors of California advocates for nursing home reform says that means residents have no one to turn to if they're being neglected or worse. Abused.

Speaker 6: 08:16 Oh, residents are completely locked out from everybody else. Nobody can see them. Their loved ones can't see them. The ombudsman can't see them. No one can see them. So it's in combination at a time like this in the midst of a pandemic for our inspectors to be the public face in those facilities and to make sure that residents are safe.

Speaker 5: 08:33 A federal survey of nursing homes released last week found that 36% of the facilities inspected didn't follow proper handwashing rules. I mean, the Sharma KPBS news

Speaker 7: 08:55 nurses

Speaker 1: 08:55 at San Diego VA say they are getting mixed messages from supervisors on how to respond to the Corona virus. KPBS military and veterans reporter Steve Walsh says, VA leaders admit there have been in consistencies

Speaker 8: 09:10 around the country. Nurses have been protesting the lack of staff and a shortage of supplies this week. Nurses who worked for the veterans health administration are protesting in Brooklyn, in San Diego. Brian [inaudible] works as a primary care nurse for the VA's Oceanside clinic, a representative of the California nurses association, national nurses United. A bird says VA nurses in San Diego has some of the same concerns just prior to the governor asking everyone to cover their faces in public. A VA supervisor told two nurses to remove face mask they brought from home. I talked to a bird via Skype.

Speaker 9: 09:45 [inaudible] they're specifically telling you that, that you can't wear a mask in inside one of the clinics unless what you're in in a certain situation,

Speaker 10: 09:54 depending on where you're working, it's, it's kind of a different message given by different managers. Our manager is lenient and says that you can wear it if you have access to it.

Speaker 8: 10:04 Uh, however, it seems like some of the managers at the main hospital have been following a different protocol or different policy. Abrams says nurses are worried about the lack of consistency. He describes how the VA has set up stations outside most locations to check patients for the virus following CDC guidelines. But that's not how it works at the clinic in Oceanside.

Speaker 9: 10:26 So how well are they doing when it comes to keeping covert 19 patients separate from the rest of the hospital?

Speaker 10: 10:32 Uh, they are doing checks on outside the building. They have a station set up for checking and patients and isolating them at that point. But that's not being instituted in our checking inside the building and not outside the building where it'd be better for all, all included the staff and the patients. Because if someone a through the questions is, is found positive, uh, they moved to a secondary place and they should already be outside and they're not,

Speaker 9: 11:02 so they're not checking outside the building. They're checking inside the building?

Speaker 10: 11:06 That's correct.

Speaker 8: 11:07 A recent report from the VA inspector general also criticized two other clinics at the San Diego VA for not properly screening patients before they actually entered the clinic. The director of the San Diego VA medical system, Dr. Robert Smith acknowledges that there have been issues with screening.

Speaker 11: 11:23 So I'd say we do screen outside where we can, but if the weather conditions don't permit, we might scream right inside the door. What people in the secondary screening, if they have any suggestion of symptoms or fever.

Speaker 8: 11:34 He says he has reemphasized screening everyone before they can mix with the rest of the staff or patients as far as whether nurses were told to take off their own personal protective masks, which they brought from home.

Speaker 11: 11:45 So I can't speak to what an individual supervisor might've said, but that was not policy. And uh, we do need to be clear though, that that personally own gear, whether it's a mask or a bandana or whatever, is not a substitute for formal PPE.

Speaker 8: 12:01 On the question of hospital grade, personal protective equipment or PPE, Smith says officials at the San Diego VA do not want staff to reuse hospital-grade mask. Another concern raised by nurses on staff. Miss says, staff has been told to keep the mass that had been fitted for them

Speaker 11: 12:18 under those circumstances. That's not a reuse for instance. That's simply a mass that's available to use. And I know some of our staff were confused that we were suggesting that they could reuse that mass when in fact all that we were doing was saying keep the mask

Speaker 8: 12:32 and is Smith able to get out a consistent message as this situation rapidly evolves?

Speaker 11: 12:37 I think messaging and communication is probably the single hardest thing to get right for health organizations right now. Um, we have staff that are very concerned. Um, the message that they get nationally is concerning and trying to stay ahead of that has been challenging.

Speaker 8: 12:52 The San Diego VA has a, had 19 confirmed cases of coven 19 among patients. Only one is hospitalized at the moment though, the system is still expecting a surge. Steve Walsh KPBS news

Speaker 12: 13:11 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 13:15 okay. So even during this time of social distancing, there are still opportunities to help your community. You can get blood or volunteer at the local food bank. The CEO of the San Diego food bank, James fluorosis and public relations manager of the San Diego blood bank, Claudine van Gungko spoke to midday edition host Maureen Cavanagh. They talked about how San Diegans can step up and safely volunteer a mid the Corona virus outbreak. The San Diego food bank is one of the organizations in need of volunteers right now. Isn't that right?

Speaker 13: 13:48 That is correct. That is a always been a major part of our supply chain. Our where our workforce and a typical year about 29,000 volunteer visits, uh, the value of that volunteerism, about one point $8 million of free labor. So we've had to kind of adjust some things cause you know, one of the big groups that provide a lot of that volunteerism where corporations that are doing community outreach, community service projects, while they all canceled within the first week, 50 groups, 1400 volunteers. And so we've been putting out the call for individuals and you know, knock on wood, so far, so good. Uh, we've been doing pretty well filling the shifts.

Speaker 1: 14:26 What will the volunteers be doing?

Speaker 13: 14:29 Well, they, uh, you know, our model is one of the, uh, more cutting edge models. So we sort of pack all the food that goes out for distribution. So, rather than bringing out a big, huge VAT of a, of a fruit, we actually bagged that fruit, you know, so it might be eight or 10 apples in a bag or oranges or what have you. So it makes the distributions go a lot quicker. So they sort food, they package food. We have a senior program, we do 14,000 a week. We serve 14,000 seniors a month. They get a 36 pound box of food. Well, that food, each one of those boxes have to be a pack. So, you know, my volunteers are making 13,000 boxes a month or 14,000 bucks a month just for that program alone. So it's pretty much everything we distribute last year was 32 million pounds of food. A volunteer will generally touch that food before it goes out.

Speaker 14: 15:18 How does volunteering conform with the governor's stay at home orders?

Speaker 13: 15:23 Well, um, we are exempt from the, uh, executive order. So all food banks, food pantries, our nonprofit partners, uh, with a, um, you know, feeding programs and all our volunteers are all essential personnel and they're all exempt from the uh, from the governor's order. Uh, we are taking care of all the precautions we're doing, social spacing, hand washing, station sanitizer, gloves and all that. So we're making sure that our volunteers are protected if they do, uh, come in and volunteer.

Speaker 14: 15:52 And that's at the San Diego food bank. Let me turn now to Claudine. One of the most well known ways of volunteering of course, is to give blood. And now the San Diego blood bank wants you to know that they are still taking appointments from blood donors. Claudine, how does that work during the Corona virus outbreak?

Speaker 15: 16:10 Yes. So I will say, I'll start by saying the community really has come to the table and come out to donate blood. A couple of weeks ago we were definitely in crisis, but the word got out, people have been coming in. So now what we're asking is for folks to make an appointment temporarily we are on an appointment only basis. We're asking them to make an appointment for the next three to four weeks because while we do have a stable supply right now, we are going to need to continue to keep that supply stable through the pandemic and beyond and much like the food bank, we are considered an essential community service. So we will remain open all of our donors centers and the few mobile drives that there are, uh, will remain open during the stay at home order.

Speaker 14: 16:53 We do have a caller on the line. Sam is calling us from San Diego. Sam, welcome to the program.

Speaker 16: 17:00 Hi. Um, I'm calling from mere Mesa and I want to encourage everyone to, uh, make masks and uh, spare your, uh, and identify mass for F, uh, for the, uh, those who actually need them.

Speaker 14: 17:15 And are you making masks to them?

Speaker 16: 17:18 Yes, our family has made more than 500 masks and we have been passing out to nurses and elderlys and we have way more requests than we can do. [inaudible]

Speaker 14: 17:29 well, thank you so much for the call and our number is one eight, eight, eight, eight, nine, five. KPBS but we're coming close to the top of the hour. Let me continue my conversation with uh, Claudine and you need volunteers though. Not to give blood but to help at the blood bank. What would they be doing?

Speaker 15: 17:47 We do, we need almost as much as we need blood donors at this point. So volunteers will be doing an array of different things. If they are joining us at our donor centers, which we have six of throughout San Diego County, they potentially could be helping take temperatures at the door because you are currently not allowed in the door without being uh, having your temperature taken and being asked a few questions and that's if they're comfortable doing that. Otherwise we have opportunities within the donor center to wipe down the tables, uh, where folks get their juices and their snacks after their donation. We're wiping down the pins, we're wiping down the folders, potentially helping to wipe down the donor beds in between and to make sure that folks are social distancing.

Speaker 14: 18:31 And remind us why a steady supply of blood is so important for our community.

Speaker 15: 18:37 A community blood bank means everything to an area. Not all cities have their own community blood bank. And so it's important that we have enough on our shelves. We supply over 40 hospitals from here to Los Angeles, and people don't just need blood when they have an accident or an operation. We have to remember there are people out there that use blood on a regular basis to stay alive. Um, we have a couple of young ladies that we work with on a regular basis that get blood transfusions every three weeks because they have a very rare form of thalassemia. It's of anemia, it's called Fallacemia. And so we have to remember those supplies need to stay steady, not only for those who have one time need, but for those who are in need all the time.

Speaker 14: 19:19 James, what are you seeing at the food bank in terms of the number of people who need food?

Speaker 13: 19:25 Well, our lines are growing. Uh, you know, we have a nonprofit center. It's where most of our nonprofits come and pick up their food. Uh, we're distributed about a hundred thousand pounds a day just to our nonprofit partners. And so I go down, I talked to the different agencies, I'm hearing the stories. They were between 50% longer lines to double the size. Uh, so we're in the process of just trying to get our arms around how many pounds of food we've distributed and how many more people we've served just since, uh, March 12th. Uh, but we know that the lines are longer. Uh, we're doing a few mass distributions, which is something that we don't normally do. We're trying to shorten those lines so we're adjusting on the fly. But, um, you know, we typically, we're feeding about 350,000 people a month. We think that number could be doubled as of this month.

Speaker 17: 20:14 [inaudible]

Speaker 18: 20:19 for more information about helping or volunteering, go to San Diego food or San Diego blood and in that full midday interview, Maureen also talked to the CEO of the San Diego foundation. The foundation has set up a special coven 19 fund to help locals in need to hear the full interview. Look for the KPBS midday edition podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts or to learn more about donating to the San Diego foundations. Go to SD and if you have any questions about the Corona virus that you can't seem to find answers to right now, please reach out to us at KPBS, go to virus questions and let us know what you want to know. Thanks for listening.

Speaker 7: 21:16 [inaudible].

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.