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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

New Rules For Restaurants

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California wants restaurants to screen guests for symptoms, have servers wear masks and keep diners at least 6 feet apart under guidance released Tuesday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Also on KPBS’ San Diego News Matters podcast: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Arturo González Cruz announced a new regional binational working group focused on tracking cross-border cases of coronavirus and more local news you need.

San Diego County approved the opening of another round of businesses and services Tuesday.

The openings are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's phased plan to reopen California's economy.

Office-based businesses are permitted to reopen, although Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said county health officials still "strongly encourage working from home”
Malls — indoor, outdoor and strip malls — are also allowed to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery only.
Other businesses or services able to open as of Tuesday include car washes, pet grooming businesses, landscaping businesses and outdoor museums and outdoor event venues.
Newsom also released guidelines for the state's restaurant industry to eventually reopen safely.

Restaurants will need to screen guests for symptoms, servers must wear masks and diners must dine at least six feet apart -- once restaurants DO reopen.

But County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher Tuesday took the opportunity to remind folks that the guidelines don’t mean restaurants are allowed to open right now.

Instead, he said owners and managers should look at the list and come up with a plan to reopen to dine-in customers once county health officials give them the green light.

When exactly that will happen, though, is still unknown.

at some point in the near future, we will get there. Uh, but as of today, there is no in-person dining in San Diego County . Uh, and we don't have a date for when that will happen.

Restaurants in rural areas with few virus cases are expected to reopen dine-in restaurants more quickly than places like San Diego and Los Angeles.
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After literally decades of cross-border sewage flows, there may finally be a solution. Local political leaders learned on Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency will commit 300 million dollars to help fund infrastructure improvements to stop sewage from Tijuana from polluting Imperial Beach waters.

In recent weeks, Tijuana’s sewage system essentially shutdown when a number of large pump stations stopped working.

That pushed up to 70 million gallons of sewage-tainted water into the U.S. each day. Imperial Beach mayor Serge Dedina says he’s pleased there is a solution in sight.

00:05:35 – 00:05:56 : It should be no flow at all. No drops of sewage in the ocean, anywhere, but for some reason, this year, it was decided that allowing 50 to 60 million gallons of sewage a day was acceptable. And our residents just got hammered.

The cross border flows are down to about a million gallons a day since Mexico’s pump stations started up again.

And speaking of cross border flows….

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Arturo González Cruz announced a new regional binational working group focused on tracking cross-border cases of coronavirus.

the objectives of this group is really cross border healthcare systems, uh, and to plan and prepare for impacts from the pandemic. The border command meets twice per week, shares data, monitors, numbers.

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And for the local COVID-19 count: county health officials said the totals rose to 5,161 cases and 190 deaths. Officials reported 15 additional deaths from COVID-19 between May 7 and May 11. All of those who’ve died have had underlying health conditions and their ages ranged from 56 to 92.

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From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan, and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters.

It’s Wednesday, May 13.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

COVID-19 presents a challenge to the immune system because the novel coronavirus is a new invader.

But a KPBS audience member asked if staying home to avoid infection can actually weaken our immune system.

KPBS Health Reporter Tarryn Mento sought out the answer as part of our ongoing Curious San Diego series.
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Animal research shows lacking exposure to germs or microbes can hinder the immune system.

(:03) "Parts of it are less robust, if you will."

That's Mitchell Kronenberg. He's president and chief scientific officer of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. He says immune benefits from food antigens, pollen or dust we encounter in the world aren't lost by staying home — especially because many microbes live with us as part of our microbiome.

(:13) so we carry around literally a couple of pounds of nonpathogenic microorganisms, bacteria, some viruses and so on. None of that's going to go away because you're in your house.

Kronenberg says he was more worried about the impact from stress, which can harm the immune system.

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One out of every five workers in the state has filed for unemployment since the coronavirus hit California. But economists say for many companies, there's a better way. It's called Work Sharing. It's a lesser-known program that lets employers cut hours, and uses unemployment benefits to make up for lost wages. But employers say California's Work Sharing application process is outdated — and long waits have been stressful for their workers.

From KPCC in Los Angeles, David Wagner filed this story for the California Report.

"...a sigh of relief, and get back to work."

And that was David Wagner with the California Report.
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Paul Jablonski, the CEO of the Metropolitan Transit System, died suddenly on Sunday.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says peers remember him as a dedicated and capable public servant.
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AB: Jablonski took the helm of MTS 16 years ago. He won national awards for running a clean, safe and reliable transit service despite limited funding and having to contend with San Diego's historically car-centric culture. Retired County Supervisor Ron Roberts worked with Jablonski for many years, and credits him with helping secure a billion dollar federal grant to help fund the upcoming blue line trolley extension to University City.

RR: San Diego was recognized as one of the very, very best in the country. And that's — you're right, not the largest system, but one of the most efficient, well run, progressive systems in the country.

AB: Colin Parent heads the transit advocacy nonprofit Circulate San Diego. He says Jablonski was receptive to criticism and showed leadership during the coronavirus pandemic by quickly implementing new cleaning and social distancing protocols to protect employees and passengers — things he says other transit agencies resisted.

CP: But instead MTS took it upon themselves to implement those best practices on their own initiative, which I think they should be recognized for. And Paul certainly deserves a great deal of credit for instilling that kind of culture in the agency.

AB: Jablonski was 67. No cause of death has been announced, though colleagues say he appeared healthy as recently as last Friday. He's survived by his wife, four children and two grandkids.

***
City planners are moving forward with some improvement projects that might not have been possible if not for the pandemic.

KPBS Reporter Matt Hoffman has more on a 4-point-7 million dollar repaving project near downtown.

City officials say with stay at home orders in effect, traffic on harbor drive- one of San Diego's busiest streets- has been cut in half. So for the first time in 20 years a three mile stretch of north harbor drive between Ash and Nimitz boulevard is getting a facelift. Aaron Gihle (Gee-lay) is a taxi driver from Linda Vista who regularly goes to and from the airport.

01;11;33;15 Aaron Gihle, lives in Linda Vista
I think it's a good idea and the reason I think that a lot of the roads here they're really bad, they were crumbling there was a lot of holes on them, a lot of holes were hitting the dips

Part of the paving project includes adding more "buffered bike lanes" which give riders more space from cars on the road. You can expect delays in the area from 6am until 6pm through next month.

High school seniors across San Diego have come to grips with how the coronavirus has laid waste to their prom and graduation plans.

And they're wondering what they should do now, if anything.

KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong explains the options San Diego Unified students are exploring to safely celebrate these milestones.

In a letter to the school board, student leaders said it would be ideal to have in-person graduations in late July or early August. The second best scenario would be an in-person ceremony with graduating classes broken up into smaller groups to ensure safe social distancing. And the least desirable option would be a virtual graduation. Students also proposed a socially distanced prom.

Marianne Byrd is a senior at San Diego High School. She said virtual events would be sadder than doing nothing at all.

MarianneByrd.mp4
11:08
It's not comparable. There's just so much that goes into prom and that goes into graduation. That's like.. Being there. And being able to dance with your friends and being able to dance with the person you're interested in.

Byrd would be OK with a later graduation or prom. But she understands that it wouldn't be an option for some of her friends who are leaving the area for college.

***
If you have young kids in San Diego County, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Steve DaNE-OUS, better known as Hullaballoo.

He’s a former elementary school teacher who gave up that gig to launch what’s become a pretty successful career as a kid’s musician. In pre-covid times, he would send out his schedule, which often included free outdoor co ncerts in parks, and dozens of families would show up to hear him play. Hullaballoo is prolific, and before he pivoted because of the pandemic, he used to play upwards of 300 live shows a year.

But that all changed…..

You can find Hullabaloo on Facebook.

That’s all. Thanks for listening.

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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.