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County Case Rate Drops

 August 13, 2020 at 2:00 AM PDT

The county's case rate per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday is 94.2. And that’s good news, folks. The number is below the metric of 100 cases per 100,000 people set by the state. It is the first time the case rate has been below 100 since the county was placed on the state's monitoring List on July 3. San Diego County would need to report a case rate of 100 or below for three days straight to get off the state's monitoring list. And a case rate of 100 or below for an additional 14 days before high schools and middle schools can open. And at the state level, Governor Gavin Newsom said yesterday that the decrease in COVID-19 hospitalization rates is a good sign. "is what gives me some confidence we're moving in the right direction. In the past 14 days, there's been a 19% decrease in coronavirus hospitalizations and a 16% decrease in ICU admissions. *** A new COVID-19 testing site began operating yesterday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry PedEast crossing. San Diego County health officials said the free testing site will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and will focus on testing essential workers and American citizens who live in Tijuana. Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, explained yesterday why the county chose the location. "We know that communities in South Bay have been hit the hardest by COVID-19," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "The location was selected because of the increase in cases in the region and the number of people, especially essential workers who cross daily." *** A California tribe whose ancestral lands span across the U.S.-Mexico border is suing the Trump administration to block construction of a section of the border wall they say is desecrating sacred burial sites. The La Posta Band of Diegueno (dia-gayno) Mission Indians filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Diego on Tuesday asking for an injunction to temporarily halt the installation of a towering metal wall until the tribe can protect its religious and cultural heritage. La Posta is one of 12 bands of the Kumeyaay (kumi-aye) people. The tribe wants its members to be able to monitor work and interrupt it to recover human remains and cultural items. *** From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a podcast powered by our reporters, producers and editors. It’s Thursday, Aug. 12. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Several cities in San Diego County are eligible for a new rental assistance program... but KPBS reporter Tania Thorne tells us, tenants need to act fast. The county's emergency rental assistance program is now available for some cities throughout San Diego County including Poway, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach, Del Mar, and Solana Beach. Tenants looking for rental assistance must submit their application online no later than Thursday at midnight. Qualifying residents may be eligible for up to fifteen-hundred dollars per month for two months. Households must be in the qualifying areas, meet income eligibility requirements and have experienced a financial hardship related to COVID-19. For a full list of requirements and applications visit S-D-H-C-D dot org. Awards will be selected through a random lottery, and expected to be distributed in early September. *** The pandemic has forced a time-out for many college sports, and at San Diego State University that means football and other fall athletic s will be postponed until the Spring. KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong explains the economic impact on the college and the community. While the decision to cancel fall sports could cost SDSU up to 12 million dollars, the impact on the region's economy will be minimal. Alan Gin is an economics professor at the University of San Diego. He said for sporting events, the economic boost usually comes from the fans of visiting teams. But even in normal times that's not usually the case with the Mountain West conference. GIN.mp4 00:01:59:08 ALAN GIN /// USD ECONOMICS PROFESSOR To me it's not a conference where a lot of fans travel with their teams. So I think there would be limited impact in terms of outside visitors. There could be some minor impact from the teams themselves visiting and spending money in San Diego. Meanwhile, economics is the last thing on the minds of student-athletes, who are devastated by the decision. Chloe Frisch is in her fourth year at SDSU. She said she'd consider extending her college career to have a proper final season. PRESSER2.mp4 4:28 I've dedicated my entire life to soccer. So the fact that it would be over and I never got a chance to play my last game. If I had that opportunity to come back for a fifth year then I would do that.. Probably. I think a lot of my senior teammates would feel the same way. Regarding SDSU's finances, university officials are hoping its big donors can step up to help mitigate the losses for the athletic department. *** If California lawmakers set aside climate concerns, like sea level rise, to only focus on the pandemic the state could be setting itself up for an even worse economic hardship. That's according to a new report from the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. CapRadio's Ezra David Romero explains. With huge budget cuts because of COVID-19 Rachel Ehlers says it's quite tempting to just think of the immediate concerns. The LAO analyst says sea level rise is forecast to cost California as much as $10 billion dollars in property damages in the next 30 years. [Notes:EHLERS] "It does seem very far away, but yet it has a lot more certainty than something like a wildfire because we don't know when a wildfire will strike. We do have some certainty about sea level rise." She says oceans are forecast to rise seven feet by 2100. And six feet of rise would mean nearly two-thirds of Southern California beaches could be totally gone by the end of the century. That means that part of California's identity as a beach-loving coastal playground could be lost unless the world curbs its emissions or if California doesn't start preparing. *** A number of military families have been left in limbo as they wait to move to new bases. The Navy imposed a stop-movement this spring because of the pandemic. Now, it's trying to restart travel. But not everybody is being allowed to move yet. KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh reports. 00;26;15;07 "So this has been our home for the moment." Adaptability is part of Navy life. For Kiley McPheron and her family that has meant living in an RV, at a campground in the Laguna mountains. It's about an hour away from the ocean where her husband continues to work at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego County. 00;20;38;04 "It has been difficult. There have been a lot of times when you have to tell yourself this is only temporary. This is not forever. Tomorrow is a new day." The McPheron's sold their home when her husband received orders transferring him to Maryland. They were forced to move out in July, but by then, the Navy had put his move on hold. With two young kids and no place to live, their best option was to buy an RV and search for campgrounds. 00;15;28;22 "Some places are just booked because people make these plans months and years in advance and we are trying to do this last minute." Her family is one of thousands caught up in the military's stop movement order, which went into effect in March. In July, the Pentagon began loosening restrictions. About 40 percent of the 230 US military installations worldwide have reopened – because they met requirements like having fewer COVID-19 cases for at least 14 days. Assistant commander of Navy Personnel Capt Derek Trinque (trank) says the bases also need to be operating closer to normal.. "There can't be a local travel restriction. They have to have essential services like child care." But San Diego's Navy bases are still on the red list, though the Navy IS making exceptions. "We have a waiver process. We were able to get sailors moved because they had a hardship or because they were essential to the mission of the new command." Waivers have helped dramatically clear the Navy's backlog. The Navy originally expected it would take until sometime next year to move the nearly 24 thousand waiting families. Now it expects to have the rest of those families at their new bases by November. The number of cases of coronavirus in the military has plateaued in the last week or so, though coronavirus cases had been surging through July, even as the Navy was pushing to get more sailors moving. Trinique says the Navy is convinced it's reopening safely. "Because we are taking the steps to keep people safe, I believe it is allowing us to make these moves. Whereas before, everyone stop moving really was the right answer." Still, determining why one base is open to travel and another base is closed can be confusing for military families. Early in the pandemic, the Pentagon stopped listing COVID cases by base. In San Diego County, along with the Navy, the Marine's west coast boot camp is still red flagged but Marines are free to transfer in and out of Camp Pendleton. Navy spouse Kellie Kopec is finally on her way to the East Coast from San Diego. She spoke from the road. 00;01;39;04 "The unknowns, the unanswered questions. No one really seemed to know what information to give us or what advice to give us. That type of thing. It was a lot of hurry up and wait." Just like the McPheron's, the Kopec's ALSO bought an RV when they needed a place to live, after they sold THEIR house in San Diego. Now, they are finally traveling cross-country to Virginia with their 7 month old -- with the help of a Navy waiver. 00;03;54;20 "Something that would be incredibly helpful and beneficial to a future pandemic or other extreme situation would be for the Navy to allow for case management in this." fThat would give families a point of contact like they have when sailors are deployed. The Kopecs will be required to self isolate for 14 days at their new base. The RV will make that easier, while other families wait for their turns to hit the road. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh. 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. *** Coming up… More than 1,600 California households have been evicted since Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide state of emergency March 4. That’s according to data CalMatters obtained via public record requests from more than 40 California sheriffs’ departments. That story after the break. With many Californians losing their jobs in the pandemic state leaders issued a moratorium on evicting tenants, but that order is not altogether clear. It's been enforced inconsistently in counties across the state. And some 1600 Californians have been evicted since March as a result, including at least 99 households here in San Diego County. Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for the news site Cal matters, spoke to KPBS Midday Edition host Mark Sauer about the loophole in the state eviction moratorium that has forced hundreds from their homes after shelter-in-place orders. Well, many of us following the news since COVID-19 hit believe renters, who've lost jobs and income have been protected from being evicted, at least till now, but your sh your story shows, that's not the case. Start with the moratorium. It reveals this directive as clear as mud. Speaker 2: 00:45 Yeah, I think that's a decent characterization. So what the state moratorium did, and there were kind of multiple moratoriums, some from the, uh, governor Newsome's administration, and then some from the judicial council, which is the governing body of the state court system. And those essentially shut down eviction proceedings in cases where tenants could demonstrate a negative financial impact from, uh, from COVID from the virus. Um, but what wasn't addressed was all of these cases that actually had already gone through the court system and were simply waiting for Sheriff's departments to decide whether to perform the eviction, to physically come and lock the tenants out. So, um, we, uh, we issued public records requests for basically every Sheriff's department in the state to get a handle on. Okay. So just how many Californians were in that exact situation. Maybe they were laid on a February payment or March rent payment, but the Sheriff's still came and kick them out of their homes in the middle of a lethal pandemic. Speaker 1: 01:54 Yeah. And that's where it, it does really get murky, explain how difficult it is to get clear and complete numbers on evictions across all California counties, San Diego's numbers are likely out of date and it can get confusing. Speaker 2: 02:07 Yeah, that's that's right. So there, there really isn't any centralized data source for the number of evictions that happen, period. Um, even in pre pandemic times, we submitted public records requests to get that data. Um, not all, uh, Sheriff's departments responded in time for us to publish the story. So that number, that 1600 household number is, you know, likely a significant underestimate of the number of people who had to leave their homes. Since governor Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4th, San Diego was one of the Sheriff's departments that actually got back to us relatively quickly. Um, and it did show that they had performed a significant number of evictions since March 4th. Speaker 1: 02:53 And people are yelling at each other if it's a, if they're upset, Speaker 2: 02:56 That's that's exactly right. Yeah. So least, you know, in most of the Sheriff's departments, we talked to deputies were equipped at least later on with PPE, but in humble County up there in the North coast, um, it was optional for Sheriff's deputies to wear mask. And so there was a specific anecdote we have in the story where, um, there was a tenant, um, uh, a couple who was being evicted. They had friends and family members helping them move. And the two Sheriff's deputy showed up without mass. Um, and it was a highly charged environment where people were yelling at each other and you can public health experts. That's a situation that they desperately want to avoid, right. A group of people, some of them screaming, um, and then physically being removed from the place where they're instructed to shelter. Speaker 1: 03:50 So Sheriff's departments from one County to the next deal with evictions differently, even city to city within a County, the rules vary, right? That's it makes it very confusing all the way across the board. Speaker 2: 04:01 That's right. And Sheriff's departments aren't especially happy about that. So in the absence of kind of a clear state directive, it was up to individuals Sheriff's departments as to whether to pursue these evictions. And there were obviously public health concerns, um, for the counties writ large, but also for individuals Sheriff's deputies. So, um, in Kings County, in the central Valley, um, the Sheriff's department there, once governor knew some shelter in place, order came down, they said, you know what? We are not going to do any more evictions period, unless it's a case of domestic violence or some other threat to public health and safety. Other Sheriff's departments had a different legal interpretation of what was coming down from the state. And they decided, you know what, we are going to go ahead with these evictions, even though that involves, you know, deputies going house to house on the same day often, um, in sometimes highly charged emotional situations where it might be difficult to observe social distancing guidelines. Speaker 1: 05:04 And you said the Sheriff's departments aren't keen on the whole situation as it's gone along. What about advocates for both renters and landlords? Speaker 2: 05:11 So advocates for renters are especially unhappy with this. Um, although they they've somewhat given up on trying to fix this specific loophole as their attention now turns to, uh, preventing this eviction cliff for tenants that were financially impacted from COVID, but, you know, tenants groups have lobbied way back in March when the, uh, when the virus first hit California to have governor Newsome or attorney general Besera, uh, instruct Sheriff's departments just don't do any addictions whatsoever, except in cases of, uh, public health and safety emergencies. So I think from governor Newsome's perspective, as well as the attorney general, or I think there was some fear that if they did, you know, explicitly instruct sheriffs not to do lockouts, that they would run into some legal challenges in terms of overstepping their constitutional authority, even in times of a public emergency, as far as landlords, you know, landlords kind of rightly say, Hey, look, you know, we don't want to add to any type of public health, right by evicting people. But if you're forcing us to keep these tenants in our homes, we are bearing the financial cost of that. Speaker 1: 06:30 It seems like our homeless crisis figures to get even worse soon with all of this on a question, is there any indication the moratorium will be extended or ended? Can we expect some clarity to emerge regarding late rent and evictions? Speaker 2: 06:45 So we had some news from me, judicial council, actually yesterday, they are, um, they signal that they are going to allow eviction court to resume, uh, starting September 1st, earlier, there were fears that they might lift the moratorium on eviction cases as early as this Friday. Um, but state lawmakers and governor Newsome lobbied, uh, the judicial council and particularly the state Supreme court, chief justice to hold off on that. So what that means is that state lawmakers and Newsome have a few weeks here to iron out some type of legislative solution that will protect tenants from eviction and, uh, compensate landlords in, in some matter, the compensating landlords part is the difficult part because the state does not have money, right? We were facing a $54 billion deficit and the federal government hasn't come up with new money yet for States to use, to combat COVID. So they're trying to figure out a way to deal with this, and he's very compressed timeframe. Um, no deal has emerged yet. There's a couple of proposals in the legislature, but the details have yet to be worked out. So it'll be a very, very busy couple of weeks here, um, for both state lawmakers and governor Newsome, And that was Cal Matters reporter Matt Levin talking with KPBS Midday Edition’s Mark Sauer. KPBS reached out to the San Diego County Sheriff's department to find out if it is continuing to carry out evictions...and a spokesperson said the department carried out 12 evictions in July and they are currently looking at processing pre COVID evictions. And that’s all for today. Thanks for listening.

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The county's case rate per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday is 94.2. This is below the metric of 100 cases per 100,000 people set by the state. This is the first time the case rate has been below 100 since the county was placed on the state's County Monitoring List on July 3. Plus: Several cities in San Diego County are eligible for a new rental assistance program, a loophole in the state eviction moratorium that has forced hundreds from their homes after shelter-in-place orders and more local news you need. Support San Diego News Matters by becoming a KPBS member today: www.kpbs.org/donate