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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

County Takes State Recommendations, Makes Them Tougher, Enforceable And More Local News

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Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Tuesday, March 17th you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS. I'm Andrew Bowen. Coming up, County health officials ban all gatherings of 50 people or more in order of bars to close and restaurants to offer takeout service only as the number of Corona virus cases in San Diego continues to grow. A group of nonprofits has started a workers relief fund to help people impacted by the outbreak cover, food, rent and utilities and a big update on the tally of votes for San Diego. Mayor that and more news coming up next.

Speaker 2: 00:36 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:36 San Diego County health officials took some of the state guidelines for dealing with the Corona virus and pushed them up a notch, giving them the force of law. At an afternoon press conference, officials ordered the closure of bars that do not serve food and prohibited the onsite services of food at restaurants. The County ordered the suspension of all classes on schools and campuses. County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, added San Diego would be much more strict about gatherings going further than the state standard of discouraging groups of 250 people or more

Speaker 3: 01:07 public or private gatherings of 50 or more. People are now prohibited. All non-essential gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged. So although we are moving the order from two 50 to 50 we are strongly discouraged. Any gatherings,

Speaker 1: 01:24 County health officials said testing for the Corona virus remains limited. SDG and E and the San Diego foundation have established a relief fund for people impacted by the Corona virus. Thousands of workers across the County are facing reduced hours or layoffs as measures to limit the diseases spread. Take a toll on hotels, restaurants, and bars. The funding is starting with one point $3 million that will be spent on helping people access food, pay rent, and utility bills and cover lost wages. Yani, supervisor Nathan Fletcher says the spirit of giving can be contagious too.

Speaker 3: 01:57 And so while so many folks are wondering what is it I can do other than wash my hands, we want you to keep washing your hands but we also want you to go to the website provided and make a donation if you are able to help your neighbor and your friend and those around you.

Speaker 1: 02:12 That website, S D foundation.org/kovac 19 the funds will be distributed to nonprofits working to help people impacted by the Corona virus. Schools are closed across San Diego County and districts are making sure vulnerable students still have full stomachs. KPBS education reporter Joe Hong visited San Diego unified food distribution site here for some lunch I hope. Okay, good. We have lunch families lined up in their cars and in person outside Monro middle school today to pick up free meals while schools are closed for at least three weeks as part of the larger effort to slow the spread of Corona virus. Richard Barrera is the vice president of the school board

Speaker 3: 02:52 distributing a lunch for each student breakfast for tomorrow. And because of our great with feeding San Diego,

Speaker 1: 03:00 we're able to distribute fresh vegetables as well. Students and parents can pick up meals daily between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM at one of eight school sites across the district. Officials expect to add more locations in the coming days. For a full list, go to K pbs.org Joe Hong K PBS news. While most school districts including San Diego unified were closed as part of the larger effort to slow the spread of the Corona virus is across. The city remained open on Monday. Daycares and preschools are able to make their own decisions about whether to close or remain open. They have information, but no direct guidance from County and state agencies. Jeanette Granada's, the director of magic hour preschool and Mira Mesa says it's important to her, the school stay open as long as it can for the mental wellbeing of its kids.

Speaker 4: 03:49 Everything in their world is different and every person in their world, including the moms and dads are on edge. And if we can provide this, you know, sanitized clean space for them to just be children, then that's the ultimate goal here.

Speaker 1: 04:07 If her preschool shut down for an extended period of time, she says she worries it would lack the funds to keep running to ward off a potentially deadly outbreak of the Corona virus. Senior care homes in San Diego County are tightening visitation rules. KPBS reporter Amit the Sharma has more

Speaker 5: 04:24 like other County elderly homes. Belmont village senior living in Sabre Springs has banned all visits from family and friends unless their loved one is at the end of life. Only essential workers like nurses, caregivers, cleaners and ground staff and suppliers are allowed on site and they must have their temperature taken and answer a questionnaire about their travels. Belmont founder and CEO, Patricia Wilson. She's concerned about her residence even with the extra precautions.

Speaker 1: 04:52 I'm a mother and I'm a warrior, so if you ask me how worried I am, I'm worried.

Speaker 5: 04:58 Well said. Residents are applauding the new rules and are finding new activities like charades and distance artwork to fill their time. I meet the Sharma KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 05:07 Despite the coven 19 pandemic federal immigration courts are still open and asylum seekers are still being shuttled back and forth to Mexico. KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler has the story

Speaker 6: 05:19 on Sunday night, the department of justice announced that who would be keeping many immigration courts open across the country. That includes the one in downtown San Diego where asylum seekers are bused in from Mexico every weekday morning for their asylum hearings under the remain in Mexico program. After spending hours in crowded conditions, they are returned across the border. Later that day. Medical anthropologist, Bonnie Kaiser, a professor at UC San Diego says the program itself poses a challenge to stopping the spread of the virus and possibly exporting it from the U S to migrant shelters in Tijuana.

Speaker 7: 05:53 Having people kind of sit on benches next to each other, you know, it's just really hard. Make sure that you actually can keep appropriate that then sending down that all of the surfaces that people are kind of exposed to are being disinfected routinely. Enough

Speaker 6: 06:04 groups representing prosecutors, immigration judges and immigration attorneys made a joint statement calling on the DOJ to close immigration courts. During the pandemic, the DOJ decided not to max with Lynn Adler, K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 06:18 San Diego city council woman, Barbara Brie is now in second place in the race for San Diego mayor as the County of registrar of voters continues to count ballots from the March 3rd primary. Brie had been in third place behind fellow city council members, Scott Sherman, but an update to the vote tally on Monday, put Bri nine votes ahead of Sherman. If that lead holds, she'll face state assemblyman, Todd Gloria in a runoff on November 3rd Gloria is in first place with about 42% of the vote re-insurance and each got 23% there are an estimated 37,000 ballots countywide still to be counted. K through 12 students who were home from school because of the Corona virus can do something during the day that parents don't normally want them to do watch TV. That's because KPBS television has partnered with the San Diego unified school district to offer free educational programming to more than 500,000 students across the County. School superintendent Cindy Martin says it's vital to continue educating kids

Speaker 8: 07:17 and we know that parents are not replacing the role of the teacher, but they will create structured guided activities for kids to show what they know. Our kids are brilliant and our teachers are invested and we want learning to continue

Speaker 1: 07:31 age. Appropriate instruction can be seen from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on KPBS channel 15.2 Cox eight 11 or spectrum 1277 more information as a kpbs.org all a lot's being done to respond to the Corona virus, but what do we really know about it and how people become infected. Dr. Michael Butera is an infectious disease specialist with Alvarado hospital and sharp health care. He spoke with KPBS mid day edition host Jade Hindman, so dr [inaudible].

Speaker 9: 08:02 Tara, what's different about the way coven 19 affects the body compared with a seasonal influenza? Thank you for asking that question. There are some differences in the spread and epidemiology of the two viruses. We know that a person who gets influenza is contagious to others two days before the onset of their symptoms until they stop shedding the virus usually about seven days and may be longer for coven 19 we think the spread is by a similar mechanism, mainly large droplets so that you need to be in close proximity, uh, to the ill person, but also the virus can survive in the environment which is unique among the RNA viruses, influenza, desiccates in the environment, but we know that covert 19 and other human adapted Corona viruses such as the SARS and MERS coronavirus because of their glyco protein spikes can live in the environment. If a surface is contacted and you touch that surface and then touch your face, you can inoculate yourself that way and we think that's a plausible mode of transmission. We also know that this virus can survive gastric acid and when you cough and then swallow, it has been isolated from the stool and that's also true of the old SARS coronavirus and the Merce Corona virus. But to date, there hasn't been any documented transmission, uh, from, from stool to hand to face. Uh, but, but again, uh, prevention strategies are similar for both viruses, hand-washing, distancing and trying to keep your hands away from your face.

Speaker 10: 09:33 So if this, if this virus then survives outside of the body on surfaces, I'm curious to know how long it survives on surfaces.

Speaker 9: 09:41 That's a great question and I don't think we, we know I've seen various published reports saying two to three days, uh, we know that it's easily, however, disinfected with the regular quartenary disinfectants that one would use in a hospital setting. For instance, which is what I do, hospital infection control. But the pop-up wipes that one would buy at the local supermarket or box store should kill the virus on surfaces and regular household cleaners should kill the virus on surfaces for those electronic surfaces that you can't clean with a spray or water, the, the, the wipes are, are, are probably adequate and useful and, and you certainly don't need to bleach everything at this point.

Speaker 10: 10:19 Hmm. Is there a difference about the way this disease spreads?

Speaker 9: 10:24 I think we're just coming to understand the epidemiology of this virus. When I give lectures about this virus, we, we use the example of the previous human Corona virus outbreaks, namely the SARS outbreak to compare and contrast and perhaps give us some insight on how this virus will spread. So for the SARS epidemic, we know that that virus generally reached its peak concentrations in the respiratory track in the second week of illness and patients really didn't effectively transmit that virus until they were already sick and thus easily screened. I think it remains to be seen how early in the course of the disease, the coven 19 virus spreads, we know that there's widespread transmission now that seems to be following a droplet and a hand to face type of transmission pattern. And the real question with any new emerging respiratory spread illness is whether or not patients can effectively spread the virus before they're symptomatic or when they're minimally symptomatic.

Speaker 9: 11:26 So we have flu pandemics whenever a new flu bug shows up because you can spread the virus two days before the onset of illness. And that then becomes the huge logistical challenge. And trying to screen and, and avoid exposure to the virus. We think that with this virus, most patients who are most individuals who pick it up from an already infected patient, uh, that, that infection is spread when they're symptomatic. But patients can be minimally symptomatic with just a minor cough and maybe no fever yet and yet possibly spread the virus. That was Dr. Michael Butera and infectious disease specialists with Alvarado hospital and sharp healthcare.

San Diego County creates public health order and closes schools, forbids gatherings of more than 50. Plus, immigrations courts continue to require asylum seekers to cross the border, and charities try to help those for whom health mandates cause hardship.

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