OUR 2020 JOURNALISM TEAM

CRISIS HOUSE GETS EXTENSION FROM CITY ON RELOCATION AID

NEW DAWN UNDERGROUND: NEW NOVEL BY LOCAL AUTHOR AMANDA MATTI

6 IN 10 ADULT SAN DIEGANS FACE SEVERE IMPACTS IF THEY CONTRACT COVID-19

LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS DISPATCHED TO BATTLE APPLE FIRE IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY: THOUSANDS EVACUATED

LA MESA POLICE ISSUE WARNING ABOUT PROTEST SATURDAY, CITY BANS OBJECTS THAT CAN BE USED AS WEAPONS IN AREA AROUND PUBLIC BUILDINGS

COUNCILMAN JERRY JONES ANNOUNCES RUN FOR MAYOR IN LEMON GROVE

READER’S EDITORIAL: ARAB AMERICANS ARE AN INVISIBLE ETHNIC GROUP WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH CARE DISPARITIES

AMAURIE JOHNSON SUES CITY OF LA MESA OVER ALLEGED POLICE MISCONDUCT

A GRANDDAUGHTER’S LOVE FOR HER “PAPA” INSPIRED ZOE’S BAKERY

SYRIAN FAMILY STRUGGLES TO COPE WITH COVID-19

INNOVATION AND COVID-19: LATEST RESEARCH FINDINGS ON TREATMENTS, VACCINES AND ANTIBODIES TESTING

OUR 2020 JOURNALISM TEAM

Reflecting the diverse voices in our communities

 

East County Magazine has significantly expanded our reporting and production team in 2020, thanks to our Facebook Journalism Grant. 

Here is our lineup of talent for our award-winning online news coverage, radio show, and new in 2020, virtual productions on issues that matter in San Diego’s East County during the pandemic--when timely and accurate news is more important than ever.

NEW DAWN UNDERGROUND: NEW NOVEL BY LOCAL AUTHOR AMANDA MATTI

By Miriam Raftery

 

August 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon author Amanda Matti’s latest novel, New Dawn Underground, is now available on Amazon and Kindle at bit.ly/NewDawnUnderground.

 

“If you'd like a signed copy, you can order those from my website at AmandaMatti.com,”says Matti, the author of three books, all set in Iraq.

 

New Dawn Underground is a counter-terrorism thriller about Elora Monro, a female CIA analyst who poses as a Washington Post journalist to infiltrate a terrorist organization in Iraq. She seeks revenge after the death of her fiance, a Delta Force member killed in a failed militant raid.

CRISIS HOUSE GETS EXTENSION FROM CITY ON RELOCATION AID

Relocating will likely force Crisis House to end walk-in day services for the homeless and rely more on outreach to homeless on the streets or in parks to direct them into housing programs

By Miriam Raftery

August 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – By a unanimous vote, El Cajon’s City Council on Tuesday approved giving Crisis House until December 31st to vacate its current location on city-owned property and still qualify for $700,000 under an early lease termination agreement.  Crisis House, which provides services to the homeless and to victims of domestic violence, has been leasing city property for $1 a year for the past 26 years.

In an earlier decision, the Council had given Crisis House only three months, until September 30th, to get out and receive the maximum $700,000 amount, though a diminishing amount of funds would have been offered to aid in relocation through when the lease ends next summer.  Under the new arrangement, Crisis House will no longer receive anything if it stays past Dec. 31.

LA MESA COMMISSION TO HOST VIRTUAL EVENT ON INCLUSIVITY

East County News Service

August 1, 2020 (La Mesa, CA) – The City of La Mesa Community Relations and Veterans Commission has scheduled an educational event titled LIVABLE LA MESA: A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION ON INCLUSIVITY to take place on Wednesday, August 5 at 6:00 PM. The goal of the virtual event is to foster education and a dialog on the topic of equity and understanding in the La Mesa community to result in possible items for action where improvements can be made. Panelists Rodney G. Hood, MD and Leda Albright, with facilitator Gail A. Nugent will address the topic of inclusivity followed by a question and answer session.

6 IN 10 ADULT SAN DIEGANS FACE SEVERE IMPACTS IF THEY CONTRACT COVID-19

That’s because about 57% of San Diego County adults have pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

San Diegans with underlying chronic conditions are at increased risks of serious outcomes if they contract COVID-19, requiring to be hospitalized, placed in intensive care or worse, dying.

To date, 95% of San Diegans who died from COVID-19 had underlying medical condition(s).

“COVID-19 deaths can be prevented,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “It’s important to remember that our actions matter. We must all do all we can to prevent from contracting and spreading the virus.”

It’s true that younger San Diegans with COVID-19 typically don’t need to be hospitalized. That is not the case for older adults. Of the 2,459 people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19, about 52% were 60 years of age or older.

EARTHTALK®: IS DEET SAFE?

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is DEET natural and is it safe to use topically as a mosquito repellent? And which formulations and concentrations are advised?-- M. Frey, Milwaukee, WI

August 1, 2020  -- DEET (short for “diethyltoluamide”) is a synthetic compound invented by the U.S. Army in 1946 that can be applied topically to repel mosquitos, ticks, fleas, chiggers, leeches and other biting insects. Unlike other repellents which actually deter bugs with smells they don’t like—or even kill them on contact—DEET just makes it harder for pests to smell us so they are more likely to leave us alone.

LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS DISPATCHED TO BATTLE APPLE FIRE IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY: THOUSANDS EVACUATED

 

Update August 2, 2020:  The #AppleFire has scorched over 20,000 acres and remain zero percent contained. Find new evacuation orders here:  https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/7/31/apple-fire/

View dramatic video of the Apple Fire burning during the night behind the Morongo Casino:  https://twitter.com/i/status/1290098105291911168

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of Cleveland National Forest

August 1, 2020 (Riverside County) – San Miguel Firefighters are among crews battling the fast-moving #AppleFire, which has scorched over  12,000 acres in neighboring Riverside County, forcing evacuation of 4,800 people.  Tonight, Cal Fire confirms that at least one home and two outbuildings have been destroyed, with many structures threatened.

At nightfall, the fire remains zero percent contained.

FREEWAY CLOSURES IN LA MESA TODAY

August 1, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The following freeway off/on ramps and interchange will be closed as of 2:30 p.m. today due to a planned protest, the city of La Mesa announced at 1 p.m. today.:

 

Southbound SR 125 to Westbound Interstate 8 Interchange

El Cajon Boulevard offramp from Interstate 8 Westbound

Jackson Boulevard onramp to Westbound Interstate 8

Spring Street offramp from Eastbound Interstate 8

LA MESA POLICE ISSUE WARNING ABOUT PROTEST SATURDAY, CITY BANS OBJECTS THAT CAN BE USED AS WEAPONS IN AREA AROUND PUBLIC BUILDINGS

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Department has issued a press release warning of a protest planned Saturday, August 1 starting at 3:30 p.m. by organizers who have not responded to inquiries from LMPD. In addition,  City Manager Greg Humora has issued an emergency order banning many weapons and objects that may be used as riot tools in a restricted area around civic buildings from noon tomorrow through 5:30  a.m. Sunday. Banned items including sticks on protest signs, bats, guns, knives, explosives, glass bottles, spray paint, and many more objects.

A flyer circulated online touting the protest over police use of force issues indicated that “civil disobedience” was planned and urged participants not to bring children, indicating the event is for age 18 and up. The flyer has prompted uneasiness among downtown merchants, some of whom have boarded up storefronts in anticipation of potential civil unrest once again.

ECM PADRES REPORT: PADRES HANG ON IN BACK AND FORTH IN DENVER

By Liz Alper

 

Photo: Fernando Tatis Jr. saved the day twice for the Padres, with an RBI single and a homer. Via @padres on Twitter

 

July 31, 2020 (Denver) - After a good series against the Giants, the Padres turned their sights eastward to Denver and a weekend series with the Rockies.  Garrett Richards started tonight’s game one against Jon Gray for the Rockies.

FEDERAL LOANS AVAILABLE TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY CIVIL UNREST

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 31, 2020 (San Diego) -- Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to help small businesses across San Diego County that were affected by civil unrest which began May 26, 2020, if they do not have the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

COUNCILMAN JERRY JONES ANNOUNCES RUN FOR MAYOR IN LEMON GROVE

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo by Jonathan Goetz

 

July 31, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove Councilman Jerry Jones has posted an announcement on Facebook, stating, “After much thought and waking up every morning saying no, I have changed my mind and have pulled papers to run for Mayor.”

BUSINESSES MUST DISCLOSE COVID-19 OUTBREAKS TO WORKERS, BUT NO LONGER HAS TO TEST MOST RETURNING EMPLOYEES

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2020 (San Diego) – Employers across San Diego County must now disclose to all employees if an outbreak of COVID 19, defined as three or more cases within 14 days, occurs at the workplace. The mandate was issued by Dr. Wilma Wooten, the County’s public health officer, NBC 7 reports.

READER’S EDITORIAL: ARAB AMERICANS ARE AN INVISIBLE ETHNIC GROUP WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH CARE DISPARITIES

By Raed Al-Naser, MD

Dr. Al-Naser is President, San Diego Chapter, National Arab American Medical Association. He is also a pulmonary and critical care physician practicing in San Diego’s East County.

July 31, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Race and ethnicity are becoming forefront conversations in our media, academic debates, and daily life discussions here in the United States. Each of us has an identity that defines how we see ourselves and others. Arab Americans are a historically understudied minority group in the U.S. and their health needs and risks have been poorly documented. As a physician and healthcare provider who belongs to this group, I see that Arab American identity is largely absent from national and academic conversations about race and ethnicity especially when it comes to health care disparities. The emergence of COVID-19 as a pandemic and public health crisis has exposed this reality and made it more visible and undeniable. 

AMAURIE JOHNSON SUES CITY OF LA MESA OVER ALLEGED POLICE MISCONDUCT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Kendra Sitton

July 31, 2020 (La Mesa) – Amaurie Johnson, 23, whose controversial arrest near the Grossmont Trolley station sparked protests and accusations of racial profiling, has filed a law suit against the city of La Mesa and arresting officer Matt Dages.

On May 27, La Mesa Police have stated that Johnson, who is Black, was stopped for smoking in public and later arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.  After a May 30-31 protest and civil unrest, police later released footage from multiple body cameras which largely failed to back up the officer’s claims, showing Johnson touch Officer Dages, who is White, for a fleeting moment after Dages had grabbed Johnson by the shirt and Johnson vociferously objected.

LMPD announced that it would not pursue prosecution of Johnson and dropped the charges.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court, the officer lacked probable cause for the arrest. (A search of Dages failed to find any smoking materials or illegal substances).  The suit also contends that Johnson was the target of police violence due to his race.

THEATERS IN THE TIME OF COVID

 
By David L. Coddon
 
Photo:  House of Joy, a virtual production of San Diego Repertory Theatre, courtesy of San Diego Repertory Theatre via Zoom productions.
 
July 30, 2020 (San Diego) - Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa has been producing for 82 seasons, but no season presented the artistic and financial challenges of its proposed 83rd.
 
Photo, right:  Beethoven, a Zoom production by San Diego Repertory Theatre, courtesy of San Diego Repertory Theatre via Zoom productions
“We’re just trying to figure out what to do,” said Paul Ericson, president of Lamplighters’ board of directors. “It’s very difficult to plan anything.”

A GRANDDAUGHTER’S LOVE FOR HER “PAPA” INSPIRED ZOE’S BAKERY

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos courtesy of Tina Bernard, L. Zoe Bernard) 

July 30, 2020 (La Mesa) -- A granddaughter’s love for her grandfather is so strong she decided to open a pop-up venture, Zoe’s Bakery, to raise money for  Parkinson’s Disease on behalf of her grandfather, La Mesa resident Joseph "Papa" Contogenis.

That granddaughter is nine-year-old La Mesa resident Zoe Bernard.

The pop-up bakery is a canopy with tables and baked goods.  The “bakery” is on 3900 Agua Dulce Boulevard between Toledo and Alta La Mesa, and is held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. most Saturdays, or as long as supplies last.  

INNOVATION AND COVID-19: LATEST RESEARCH FINDINGS ON TREATMENTS, VACCINES AND ANTIBODIES TESTING



In this ongoing series about impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic,  ECM explores innovations in research and advances in the innovation community toward finding treatments, vaccines, and a test for antibodies.

 

By Helen Horvath

 

July 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- We all probably know of someone who has had COVID-19. This virus hit home earlier this month, when my 30-year-old nephew was diagnosed with COVID-19 after working as a contractor in Bakersfield at an Amazon facility, where employees reportedly had COVID-19.  Contrary to the typical media images of people ill with COVID-19 who are hospitalized and on ventilators, my nephew was one of the approximately 75% of people who have been able to manage their coronavirus symptoms at home through doctor’s guidance and a 14-day quarantine. Everyone in my nephew’s home is now quarantined. 

SYRIAN FAMILY STRUGGLES TO COPE WITH COVID-19

By Kendra Sitton

Photo by Henri Migala:  Asim Al-Abdullah worries about his family’s future
 
July 30, 2020 (El Cajon) - Everyone faces different struggles during the pandemic, such as health, financial or isolation. For a Syrian family of seven living in El Cajon, their primary struggle is psychological. 

HOUSE FIRE DISPLACES LA MESA RESIDENT

By Miriam Raftery

July 29, 2020 (La Mesa) – A home in La Mesa was destroyed Tuesday, last night, in a fire that also caused minor damage to a neighboring residence.

Crews from Heartland Fire & Rescue in La Mesa and Lemon Grove responded, along with San Miguel Fire and San Diego Fire departments, to the blaze reported in the 4900 block of Williams Avenue in La Mesa around 8:15 p.m.

Fire crews arrived within six minutes to discover a  one-story single family dwelling with heavy fire and smoke.

BEWARE OF SCAMMERS POSING AS DEA AGENTS

East County News Service

July 29,2020 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the public to be cautious of telephone calls by scammers posing as DEA employees attempting to defraud and extort victims.

The schemers call the victims, spoofing DEA phone numbers in order to appear legitimate, and threaten arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities unless victims pay a “fine” over the phone, via wire transfer, or through a gift card.

The reported scam tactics continually change but often share many of the same characteristics. Callers use fake names and badge numbers or names of well-known DEA officials and may:

SIX ARRESTED IN SWEEP OF ILLEGAL DISPENSARIES

East County News Service

July 29, 2020 (San Diego) – Yesterday morning, Tuesday, deputies and investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, assisted by San Diego and Chula Vista police officers, served search warrants at five illegal marijuana dispensaries in Spring Valley, Lakeside, and Chula Vista. Search warrants were also served at two related residences in Jamul and San Diego, as well as a storage facility in Spring Valley, says Sergeant Zheath Sanchez with the Sheriff’s Department.

Investigators seized more than 1.1 million dollars in cash, as well as more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, marijuana edibles, concentrated cannabis, suspected Psilocybin mushrooms, and twenty firearms including three semi-automatic rifles.

YMCA PROVIDES COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND AFFORDABLE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN A COVID-19 WORLD

By Helen Horvath

 

ECM interviewed Krysta Esquivel, Executive Director for YMCA Youth & Family Services, and Brittany Villarino Vetter, Associate Director in part II of our series on mental health services

 

July 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- COVID-19 has impacted our communities in so many ways. Divorce filings have gone up; domestic violence has increased and people have lost jobs, and insurance.  Key to these losses are our community’s sense of fear and anxiety of what will happen next.                                                                                                                 

MENTAL HEALTH IN A COVID-19 WORLD: HOW TO GET HELP

 
Part I in a two-part series
 
By Helen Horvath
 
Photo, left: isolation during COVID-19 has increased stress, anxiety and depression (Creative Commons image via Bing)
 
July 29, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – COVID-19 has substantially changed our world, along with our relationships. Isolation due to quarantine and lockdowns, stress over loss of a job or loved one, has further exacerbated mental health conditions ranging from depression to anxiety. 

HUNDREDS SICKENED BY PARASITE IN RECALLED BAGS OF SALAD

By Miriam Raftery

July 29, 2020 (San Diego) – At least 641 people in 31 states have been sickened after eating bagged salads that contained Cyclospora, an intestinal parasite, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The salads were made by Fresh Express and also sold under various store brand names including ALDI, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel Osco, ShopRite and Walmart.

MOVING PAST INNOVATION: THE DRIVE TO CREATE THERAPIES AND VACCINES FOR COVID-19

By Helen Horvath

 

July 29, 2020 (San Diego) -- Tired of wearing masks and social distancing?  Hoping for a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic?  Confused over what the correct information about COVID-19 may be?  Need money for a life science project for your unique idea?  BIOCOM is the place to go to obtain some solutions as a life science industry association.  In San Diego there are multiple scientific studies through the federal government agencies.   

ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE SAN DIEGO AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY: PART TWO

 

ECM interviews Dr. Rodney G. Hood, CEO and Managing Partner at Careview Medical Group, Inc. and president of the Multicultural Health Foundation, on health disparities impacting African Americans locally and nationally 

By Angela de Joseph

July 29, 2020 (San Diego) -- California is known for sunshine and earthquakes. Today, in the middle of summer, we are being shaken to our core by a global pandemic that is showing no signs of subsiding. Our state recently recorded the highest number of deaths from the novel Coronavirus in a single day,158, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in our 58 counties to over 8,000. 

ECM PADRES REPORT: MYERS, TATIS JR. HOMER IN PADRES' FIFTH WIN

By Liz Alper

 

Photo via @padres on Twitter

 

July 28, 2020 (San Francisco) - The Padres are doing well so far, but that’s probably because it’s a shorter season.  Tonight, they faced off against the Giants in game one of a three-game series, which was also the Giants’ home opener.  Jeff Samardzija started for the Giants against Zach Davies.

SEEDS FROM CHINA SHOW UP IN EAST COUNTY MAILBOXES: DO NOT PLANT THESE, REPORT THEM, AGRICULTURAL OFFICIALS URGE

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 28, 2020 (La Mesa) – Across the U.S., residents in at least 31 states have begun receiving mysterious packages of seeds from China.  A La Mesa resident is among those to receive the unsolicited and potentially dangerous seeds, according to a photo and post on a local social media site.

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