April 2020 Articles

LOAN PROGRAM TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES IN UNINCORPORATED AREA AFTER SBA FUND RUNS OUT OF MONEY

By Miriam Raftery

April 24, 2020 (San Diego) -- The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a $5 million loan program to help small businesses in the unincorporated area that have suffered losses because of COVID-19.

After more than a month of mandatory shut-downs, promised relief has not arrived for many businesses and individuals.  Pam Garcia owns a hair salon in the unincorporated area of El Cajon.  “None of my self-employed people have gotten unemployment. I filled for small business help and have received not even a letter,” she posted on Facebook. “ I also have not received my stimulus.”


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SANTEE GETS STIMULUS FUNDS FROM CARES, CITY EYES LOOSENING OF CURRENT RESTRICTIONS

By Mike Allen

Photo: Clockwise L-R: John Minto, Laura Koval, Ronn Hall, Rob McNelis, Stephen Houlahan, and City Clerk Annette Ortiz

April 24, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee is getting $162,000 as part of the federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus package approved last month to help offset the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aid comes from the $150 billion portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act aimed at helping the states, counties and cities in responding to the coronavirus. This is the same law that included one-time payments to most tax-paying Americans of $1,200 among a wide variety of economic relief programs intended to mitigate the upheaval caused by the pandemic.


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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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READER’S EDITORIAL: PEOPLE’S LIVES TRUMP THE DOW JONES DURING PANDEMIC

By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, retired epidemiologist
 
April 23, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- So Senator Jones claims America exceptionalism because our Constitution begins with “We the People,” in his recent editorial on restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nice sentiments, but what is the reality? 
 
According to Senator Jones, “‘We the People’ established a Constitution with a Bill of Rights that enshrines the liberties that cannot be permanently taken from us. Just because we’re in an emergency doesn’t mean we hand over our freedoms to the government absolutely and indefinitely.” 
 
First, no one is talking about handing over our freedoms indefinitely. However, if we rely on our “intuitive genius” President and people like Senator Jones rather than experts on infectious diseases we may actually hand over more than our freedoms--threatening our health and our lives.

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READER’S EDITORIAL: VIEW “PLANET OF THE HUMANS” MOVIE THIS EARTH DAY

By Renée Owens

April 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- This year is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! How can you honor Mother Earth while sheltering at home? Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do right now is sit back and watch a movie. Specifically, the groundbreaking documentary Planet of the Humans, just aired and free to watch on Youtube. A decade in the making, produced by Berkeley University Professor Ozzie Zehner and Michael Moore, it reveals astonishing and profound revelations about the green energy movement that I guarantee you will have never heard before.


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WOMAN WITH MEMORY ISSUES MISSING: POSSIBLY IN ENCANTO, CITY HEIGHTS OR DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO

East County News Service
 
Photo Courtesy: San Diego Police Department
 
April 23, 2020 (San Diego East) --  Ernestine Edwards was reported missing to the San Diego Police Department. It is believed Edwards went missing between March 27th and April 1st 2020. Edwards resides in the Encanto area of Southeastern San Diego. She has family and friends in City Heights and Downtown San Diego.
 
Edwards has been having memory loss and is believed to be suffering from the beginning stage of dementia. Edwards has been getting forgetful and can’t remember where she lives. Edwards may not remember she has her own apartment and could be seeking assistance at local shelters or even living homelessly. Edwards uses the bus and trolley systems, but usually gets around on foot.
 
Edwards is described as a black female, 63 years old, 5’3”, 100lbs, Grey Hair, Brown Eyes.
 
If you have seen or had any contact with Edwards please contact the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000.

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COUNTY MOVES CLOSER TOWARD REOPENING, AS GROWTH IN COVID CASES SLOWS BUT DEATH TOLL MOUNTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilima Wooten urges everyone to wear masks in public to prevent spread of COVID-19.

April 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The growth curve for new  COVID-19 cases is showing signs of slowing locally, even as San Diego County reported 15 new deaths, bringing the total  deaths to 87. Meanwhile officials offered insights on what it will take to begin lifting local restrictions.


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LIFE ON THE STREETS IN EAST COUNTY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Story and photos by Jake Zawlacki

Photo, left:  Homeless man Mike in downtown La Mesa, April 21, 2020

April 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- “Things are different,” said Mike, a local homeless man, as I spoke with him in downtown La Mesa yesterday. “Everyone’s afraid of the homeless.”

Mike typifies many homeless individuals living across East County with nowhere to go. The recent halt of new intakes at the East County Transitional Living Center  in El Cajon is only one example of doors closing to homeless people. Just a block from the closed Wells Park in El Cajon, you can see almost 20 migrated homeless individuals now camped in the parking lot outside of the Neighborhood Healthcare Facility.

“We can’t really take showers anymore,” Mike said.


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FOOD INSECURITY, LACK OF RESOURCES TOP ISSUES FOR IMMIGRANTS DURING PANDEMIC

By Kendra Sitton for East County Magazine

Photo: Syrian refugee children in El Cajon, by Rachel Williams

April 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- While it may be true that a virus cannot discriminate, the structural inequalities already in place are exacerbated in a crisis. Groups already in a precarious position are more vulnerable than ever. Among these at-risk groups are immigrants and refugees. According to advocates working with immigrant and refugee communities, some of the top concerns they are hearing involve food insecurity and a lack of resources.


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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: COBRA HEALTH BENEFITS AFTER JOB LOSS

East County News Service
 
Photo: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at www.CMS.gov
 
April 22, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – The federal government has just released critical health insurance for private sector employees in a new, updated booklet titled “An Employee's Guide to Health Benefits Under COBRA.” 
 
This health insurance update explains in detail your rights  to purchase a temporary extension of your healthcare benefits if you lose your job, under the health benefit guide called COBRA. 

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INDIAN HEALTH COUNCIL IN VALLEY CENTER AWARDED FEDERAL GRANT FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

 
East County News Service
 
April 21, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has expedited its process to yesterday release $110 million in emergency grants to strengthen access to treatments for substance use disorders and serious mental illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Locally, the Indian Health Council in Valley Center is the recipient of a $420,300 grant. For details on their grant and others awarded, visit https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2020/FG-20-006.   
 
“Within just a few weeks of Congress providing these grant funds, SAMHSA is distributing them to help Americans with substance use disorders and serious mental illness receive the treatment they need during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “SAMHSA has been working around the clock to ensure that Americans are getting access to the mental healthcare they need, whether for preexisting mental health conditions or for challenges arising during this emergency. President Trump has made mental health a priority throughout his time in office, and HHS will make support for quality mental healthcare a priority throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”

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A MEATY CHANGE: COUNTY FAIR’S FFA MARKET ANIMALS TO BE JUDGED & AUCTIONED VIRTUALLY DUE TO COVID

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo, at left, courtesy of Taryl Townsend)

April 21, 2020 (Lakeside) – For East County kids who raise pigs, cattle, sheep or goats through the Future Farmers of America program, a highlight each year is the live auction of their animals at the San Diego County Junior Fair. But due to the fair’s cancellation  amid the COVID-19 quarantine, the Eastern San Diego County Junior Fair’s market animals auction will be held virtually on May 14.

 Don Dyer of Alpine, president of the Eastern San Diego County Jr. Fair (ESDCJF) Lakeside division says the judging, typically done in person, will be switched to online video presentations of the animals. 

Virtualstockshow.com will facilitate the judging and then the sale of the animals,” Dyer told ECM. “The exhibitors will make a 90 second video showing their market animals which will be evaluated and placed by the fair’s judges. Exhibitors will sign up and submit their videos on Saturday, May 9th.  Judging will happen on Thursday, May 14th, and the auction will be held online on Saturday May16th starting at noon.” 


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NEW COVID-19 CLINICAL TRIAL OF BIOTECH PRODUCT ANNOUNCED TO TREAT PATIENTS WITH UNDERLYING MEDICAL CONDITIONS

East County News Service

 

April 21, 2020 (Pasadena) -- A new clinical trial is being announced today that could significantly increase the rate of recovery for COVID-19 patients with underlying health conditions and save lives. Circularity Healthcares trial will help some of the most at-risk patients suffering from complications due to diabetes, poor circulation, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. The trial will involve the use of Circularity’s already FDA-approved drug and IDE device D’OXYVA® (deoxyhemoglobin vasodilator) - a non-toxicnon-invasive microcirculation transdermal device. 

 


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COVID-19 EMERGENCY ALLOTMENTS FOR CALFRESH RECIPIENTS

East County News Service

April 21, 2020 (San Diego) - In April, CalFresh recipients will receive an Emergency Allotment (EA) on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card. This benefit was authorized by House Resolution 6201 – The Families First Act signed into law on March 18, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. 


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EL CAJON POLICE SEEK HELP IN HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION

East County News Service

Photo: Victim Tony Montantes

April 21, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the suspect(s) responsible for the murder of 41-year-old Tony Montantes. On March 16th at approximately 9:55 p.m., Tony Montantes was standing on the sidewalk in the area of E. Main St. and S. First St. in El Cajon when an unknown suspect fired several gunshots at him. As a result, Montantes was struck multiple times. Despite life saving measures by El Cajon Police officers, paramedics and hospital staff, Montantes was pronounced dead. The suspect(s) were last seen fleeing the area in a vehicle.


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CHIEF’S CORNER: EARTHQUAKE/DISASTER PREPAREDNESS MONTH

 
By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
 
One to Two Weeks With Nothing or One to Two Weeks With the Basics?
 
 
April 20, 2020 (San Diego) -- To say California has had a rough stretch the last number of years in the catastrophic loss world would be an understatement. But as we continue into 2020 and head into April it’s a reminder that April is California Earthquake Preparedness Month. Organizations and fire departments can take steps to lessen and mitigate the deadly and damaging effect of earthquakes by bringing awareness to communities.
 
Covid-19 is on the forefront of everyone’s mind, however, we cannot forget other potential disasters that threaten our state. Earthquakes, floods and fires are just a few.
 

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READER’S EDITORIAL: CALIFORNIANS MUST ENSURE INFRINGEMENTS ON LIBERTIES DURING PANDEMIC ARE ONLY TEMPORARY

By State Senator Brian Jones
 
Originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune; reprinted with permission of the author
 
April 22, 2020 (San Diego) -- In his 1987 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan clarified the difference between the U.S. Constitution and those of other countries:
 
“Many countries have written into their constitution provisions for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Well, if this is true, why is the Constitution of the United States so exceptional? Well, the difference is so small that it almost escapes you, but it’s so great it tells you the whole story in just three words: We the People. In those other constitutions, the government tells the people of those countries what they’re allowed to do. In our Constitution, we the people tell the government what it can do, and it can do only those things listed in that document and no others.”
 
Last week, President Donald Trump unveiled new guidelines to help states begin to lift the social distancing guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended since mid-March. Given that state and local governments have acted in accordance with, or gone well beyond, federal guidance to this point, “stay at home” orders may begin to ease May 1 in some places but may continue for weeks or months in others.

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SAN DIEGO SHERIFF AND POLICE WARN PROTEST ORGANIZERS AND DEMONSTRATORS CAN BE ARRESTED FOR VIOLATING COVID-19 BANS ON GATHERINGS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of Times of San Diego

April 20, 2020 (San Diego) – Over the weekend, hundreds of people held protests locally to call for reopening of parks, beaches and businesses shut down due to county and state health orders to prevent spread of COVID-19.   The protesters gathered in defiance of a county ban on all gatherings and failed even to provide social distancing or wear mask, putting themselves and anyone they come in contact with at risk of catching the highly contagious virus.

Today, the San Diego Sheriff and San Diego Police Department issued a statement which warns, “Although the protests were allowed to take place, we must not forget the public health orders were put in place to protect our communities from the spread of COVID-19. While no citations were issued at the protests, that does not mean prosecution will not be sought, especially to the organizers of these events.”


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HEADBANDS FOR COVID-19 HEALTHCARE HEROES: THE NEW ITEM TO SEW OR CRAFT

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

April 20, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) Sewing a headband with buttons or buying a headband and sewing buttons on is the latest craft item to help those healthcare workers or essential workers  alleviate the irritation of wearing surgical masks with elastic behind their ears for long periods of time.

Essential workers and healthcare workers have been officially told to wear masks. If the masks are the standard surgical masks with elastic, that elastic can chafe and cause pain from wearing them for a whole 8-hour shift or longer.

(Photo courtesy of DINIGOFIN)

“My sister, her husband, her oldest son and his girlfriend all work in the same hospital, “said former county of San Diego resident Drea Lazos who now lives in Ohio. “So that’s one whole household I’m worried about. Here in Cincinnati, my younger sister works at the University of Cincinnati hospital in the lab, processing all of the covid-19 tests. Lots of her co-workers are home sick and one night she had to work a 24-hour shift. I make all the masks to help with their comfort.”


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LA MESA SUNRISE ROTARY MEMBERS FIND FRUITFUL WAY TO HELP COMMUNITY DURING PANDEMIC

Produce for Polio now Produce for COVID-19
 
By Dr. Jeffrey Hall, President of La Mesa Sunrise Rotary
 
April 19, 2020 (La Mesa) --  Over the years, members of the La Mesa Sunrise Rotary Club have brought fruits and vegetables from their own gardens to the meetings. Members would take the fruit and give a donation to the club foundation for the eradication of polio. Today, the climate has changed. We are no longer able to meet together, and the health crisis has come home to us in the manor of COVID-19. 
 
How can fresh produce make a difference?
 
Members of the club have stepped up, as pictured below. On Thursday, April 16 (as an early Rotarians At Work effort) the group harvested over 500 pounds of oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons and limes from members’ gardens and donated the fruit to several locations including: the Santee Food Bank, La Mesa 1st Methodist Church’s Fresh Start program, Noah Homes, Homeless Encampment, the East County Transitional Living, the Bradley Convalescent Home, and La Mesa Senior Citizens.
 

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IMMIGRANT ACTIVIST TO NEWSOM: OUTREACH NEEDED TO OVERCOME FEAR OF TESTING

By Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

Photo:  Enrique Morones, shown at a Waterfront Park rally in 2018, reminds state officials: “By helping the undocumented community, you’re really helping yourself.” Photo by Chris Stone

April 19, 2020 (San Diego) - Among Gov. Gavin Newsom’s indicators to be used before stay-at-home orders can be eased (and the economy reopened) are testing and contact tracing.

But what if California’s 2 million undocumented immigrants are too fearful to be tested?


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: EASTER LAMBS

East County News Service

 

April 18, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs)  - Photographer Debbie Merrill writes, “While on a `Sanity drive’ on Easter Sunday, we spotted a small group of Desert Bighorns below Desert View Tower on the boulders along the highway. I was able to get quite a few pictures before they moved over the ridgeline.  Easter lambs!”
 
Click "Read more" for two more of Merrill's sharp, crisp and clear bighorn sheep photos.
 

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HUNDREDS AT DOWNTOWN 'FREEDOM RALLY' HONK, CHEER FOR STATE TO 'OPEN UP'

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

April 18, 2020 (San Diego) - Aaron Ruis of El Cajon manages an assisted-living facility for disabled adults, but Saturday in downtown San Diego he was managing crowd chants at a “freedom rally” to open the state’s economy.


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42 NURSING HOME PATIENTS IN EL CAJON DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19: VIRUS HAS CAUSED 7,000 DEATHS TIED TO NURSING HOMES NATIONWIDE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

April 18, 2020 (El Cajon) – COVID-19 is having a devasting impact on nursing home patients. Nationwide, over 7,000 nursing home-related deaths have occurred, the New York Times reported on Friday in a headline that referred to the facilities as “death pits.”

Today, the California Health Department for the first time released statistics on coronavirus cases in nursing facilities. Locally, the hardest hit area is El Cajon, where 42 patients have been diagnosed with the virus in three nursing homes:  Country Hills Post Acute (19), Bradley Court (12), and Avocado Post Acute (11).


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JANTZ FAMILY LAUNCHES GO FUND ME SITE FOR GROSSMONT HOSPITAL FOUNDATION FOOD PANTRY AND SUPPLIES

Donations of money, non-perishable foods and personal protective equipment are needed for healthcare workers

By Miriam Raftery

April 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – Barry Jantz, CEO of Grossmont Healthcare District, and his family have launched a GoFundMe site on behalf of the Grossmont Hospital Foundation to help healthcare workers with an on-site food pantry and medical supplies. 

“As most of you know, the care team at our local hospital is working tirelessly during this global battle against COVID-19. Many of the healthcare workers are unable to go to the store and get items they need for their families, either because the items are gone from the shelves or they’re just exhausted by the end of their shift. On a daily basis, these amazing individuals are here doing their very best to help those in need,” a message from Barry, Colleen and Kayleigh Jantz states.

A contribution via this GoFundMe page will go to the non-profit Grossmont Hospital Foundation to provide Food Pantry items and/or much-needed hospital supplies to protect front-line caregivers during this crisis.  Donations are 100% tax deductible.

People can also donate non-perishable food items and personal protective equipment directly. Click here for details or to make a donation.


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WITH UNANIMOUS VOTE, CALIFORNIA MOVES TO PROTECT IMPERILED MOUNTAIN LIONS

Source: Center for Biological Diversity
 
Photo credit: National Park Service. Female mountain lion, P-33, in the Santa Monica Mountains 
 
April 17, 2020 (Sacramento) -- In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Mountain Lion Foundation, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 5-0 yesterday to advance Southern California and Central Coast mountain lions to candidacy under the state’s Endangered Species Act. The vote follows a February 2020 finding by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that increased protections may be warranted.
 
The unanimous vote triggers a year-long review by the department to determine if these populations should be formally protected under the Act. The Act’s protections apply during the candidacy period.
 
“This is a historic moment for California’s big cats and rich biodiversity,” said Tiffany Yap, a biologist at the Center and primary author of the petition. “These ecosystem engineers face huge threats that could wipe out key populations. But with state protections, we can start reversing course to save our mountain lions. Wildlife officials deserve a big round of applause for moving to protect these amazing animals.”
 

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HELIX WATER DISTRICT HOSTS VIRTUAL FOOD DRIVE

 
Source: Helix Water District
 
April 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Helix Water District’s employee volunteer program, Helix Helps, is hosting a virtual food drive in partnership with the San Diego Food Bank to help feed vulnerable families and seniors impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 
 
The public is welcome to participate in the virtual food drive. To donate, visit hwd.fyi/food, slide food items across the checkout and pay securely with a credit or debit card. The virtual food drive runs through June 30, 2020.
 
“Right now, making sure that families and seniors are fed and have access to food is a top priority for our communities,” said Helix Water District Board President Mark Gracyk. “Not only are our employees working to ensure that our customers have access to safe and reliable water throughout this crisis, they are also looking for more personal ways to help.”
 

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

RESTAURANTS LOOK TO INSURANCE COMPANIES FOR AID TO SURVIVE CRISIS

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service

Photo:  Creative Commons via Bing

April 17, 2020 (Sacramento) - Consumer groups want insurance companies to help prop up the restaurant industry, which has taken a massive hit in the COVID-19 crisis. Tens of thousands of restaurants have been forced to close their dining rooms, and many have closed entirely, resulting in massive layoffs.


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SAN DIEGO FUND LAUNCHES TO HELP ARTS AND CULTURE NONPROFITS AND ARTISTS IMPACTED BY CORONAVIRUS

By Miriam Raftery

April 17, 2020 (San Diego) – Arts and cultural organizations across our region have been forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis. That’s eliminated major revenue sources for everything from small community theater groups to large organizations such as art museums, the San Diego Symphony and the San Diego Opera. Many artists have been laid off and are struggling to make ends meet.

Yesterday, the San Diego Arts + Culture Challenge Fund launched with $1.25 million in aid to help arts and culture nonprofits and creative individuals across San Diego County. Grant guidelines and applications will be available in late April at sandiegoracc.org. Donations are sought to increase the fund. You can donate at sandiegoracc.org/challenge.


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EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPROVES MAJOR RESPONSE TO COVID-19: $1 MILLION TO AID RESIDENTS, HOMELESS, AND BUSINESSES

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Video Coverage

City of El Cajon press release on COVID-19 actions

 

April 17, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to set forth a major million-dollar effort to support local residents, businesses, and the homeless during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, extending after the state declares the emergency over.

The City Council approved a dozen programs to help the community including:

  • Providing residents assistance with utility bills and rent
  • Delaying sewer bills through June and eliminating any late sewer fees in 2020
  • Assisting seniors to access groceries
  • Promoting and financially supporting existing food distribution throughout the community
  • Setting up a business resource website and reaching out to businesses
  • Waiving late business license renewal penalties
  • No longer enforcing banner and temporary use regulations at business sites
  • Providing additional homeless shelter opportunities, providing transportation to the homeless to access regional resources
  • Providing free on-line recreation classes, discounted structured recreation classes after the emergency declaration has been terminated.

In addition, the City Council adopted a resolution strongly recommending that owners of rental properties in the City to refrain from raising rent for a 60-day period beginning Apr. 15.


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