COVID-19

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE RECEIVES $100,000 GRANT FROM FACEBOOK JOURNALISM PROJECT

 

COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund aids over 200 newsrooms nationwide

By Miriam Raftery

East County Magazine has been selected to receive $100,000 through the Facebook Journalism Project COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.  Facebook announced that more than 200 news organizations will receive nearly $16 million in grants through the program as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in news.

Read more about our grant project here.  View an index of our grant works to date, organized by topic.


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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.

HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS

October 28,  2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.

HEALTH


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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.

FREE COVID-19 TEST SITES FOR TEACHERS AND SCHOOL WORKERS

East County News Service

October 23, 2020 (San Diego) - ​The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is partnering with the County of San Diego to conduct COVID-19 surveillance testing of the region's 80,000-plus school employees. 


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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.

HOW TO REPORT A VIOLATION OF COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER

East County News Service

October 23, 2020 (San Diego) - The County of San Diego has set up a phone line and email address for the public to report businesses or organizations that are violating the county’s public health order. This includes businesses that are open despite closure orders due to COVID-19, as well as those violating other orders, such as not following masking and social distancing requirements.  To report violations, you can call (858) 694-2900 or email SafeReopeningComplianceTeam@sdcounty.ca.gov

Employers are required to notify the County if any employee tests positive for COVID by calling (888) 950-9905. You will need to provide the worker’s name, birth date, and contact information for contact tracing.   


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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.

HEALTH OFFICIALS WORRIED ABOUT SAN DIEGO SLIPPING INTO 'PURPLE' TIER

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association 

Photo:  Dr. Wilma Wooten speaks at Friday’s press conference. Image from livestream

October 16, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County public health officials warned Friday that coronavirus infections are creeping up and the county could enter the widespread, or purple, tier in state rankings.


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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 ADVISED TO COMPLY WITH COMPLEX ‘PARKLET’ DINING RULES

Many restaurant owners don’t understand regulatory layers and risk running afoul of laws

By Marco Polo Cortes, Owner of Marco Polo Permits 

October 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Restaurant owners say that outdoor dining has allowed them to survive the recent COVID-19 closures. Since August 31, restaurants in San Diego County can serve customers indoors – but only at 25% capacity. Sidewalk cafes and “parklets” can allow these struggling businesses to provide outdoor dining, but there are many misconceptions about the rules.


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LA MESA COMMISSIONS TO HOST EVENT ON YOUTH IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 OCT. 28

Source: City of La Mesa

 

Photo: CC by SA

 

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) - The City of La Mesa Community Relations and Veterans Commission along with the Youth Advisory Commission have scheduled a round table discussion event titled LIVABLE LA MESA: Youth in the Age of COVID-19, to take place on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:00 p.m. The goal of the 90 minute virtual event is to foster a dialog on how changes due to COVID-19 have affected the everyday lives of families. Panelists from the La Mesa Spring Valley School District and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency will be on hand to provide tips and tools.

 


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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.

HERE COME THE BRIDES: MARCH FOR WEDDINGS AT STATE CAPITOL SEEKS TO END BAN ON EVENTS

Photos and video courtesy of Aaron Texeira. View video: https://vimeo.com/467983811 

By Miriam Raftery

October 13, 2020 (Sacramento) -- This afternoon, approximately 100 brides and grooms in wedding gowns and tuxedos joined with vendors and event planners at California’s Capitol to demand recognition in Governor Gavin Newsom’s reopening plan.


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STATE EASES BAN ON GATHERINGS TO ALLOW LIMITED OUTDOOR GET-TOGETHERS

By Miriam Raftery

October 9, 2020 (Sacramento) – One of the most difficult aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the inability to lawfully visit with friends and family members not in your household.  Now, nearly seven months after the state imposed a ban on all gatherings of any size due to COVID-19, the California Department of Public Health on Friday released new rules allowing limited outdoor private gatherings of up to three households in  private spaces or public areas such as parks, with social distancing, masks, and other health protections.

Counties may adopt the state standard, or keep stricter rules, though San Diego County has largely followed state rules in the past.  View the full rule changes.

To host a private gathering, the new state rules require that:


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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.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY REPORTS 161 NEW VIRUS CASES AND REMAINS IN 'RED TIER'

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  a county public health nurse administers a COVID-19 test. Courtesy County News Center  

October 7, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County reported 161 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday and remained in the substantial, or red, tier in the latest state ranking.


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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.

PRESIDENT TRUMP RETURNS TO WHITE HOUSE, DRAWS CONDEMNATION AS “RECKLESS” FOR EXPOSING OTHERS TO COVID-19 AND DOWNPLAYING SEVERITY OF DISEASE

 

"The behavior of the first family has endangered not only their own health, but that of the staff." -- Megan Ranney, emergency room physician

By Miriam Raftery

October 6, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – President Donald Trump returned to the White House late yesterday, still contagious with COVID-19 after his discharge from Walter Reed Medical Center.  

As he entered the White House, he defiantly removed his mask, thus contaminating the air with the coronavirus, potentially exposing White House staff.  He then posed for a campaign video, exposing a film crew to the virus. In direction contradiction to the advice of public health officials, Trump advised American not to be afraid of the virus, claiming “We’re going back to work.” He urged Americans not to be afraid of COVID-19 – apparently tone deaf to the suffering of families of more than 200,000 Americans who have died and many others left debilitated by the disease.

Then in a tweet this morning falsely likened it to the flu – a post so irresponsible that some social media sites have removed it for endangering lives. Trump previously admitted in a taped interview in February with journalism Bob Woodward that he knew the coronavirus was much more deadly than the flu but downplayed its severity to avoid causing panic.

Now, two White House staffers have tested positive for COVID and were reportedly told to "use discretion" in reporting their illnesses.  "This is what I was worried about," tweeted emergency physician Megan Ranney after the housekeepers' diagnoses were first reported by Forbes. "The behavior of the first family has endangered not only their own health, but that of the staff."


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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.

CREST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL’S NEW OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM SHINES IN THE ERA OF COVID

By Kendra Sitton

September 27, 2020 (Crest) -- Crest Elementary School has been shrinking for years, with less and less students enrolled every single year since 2003. Today, however, they have a list of over 90 families wishing to enroll in the school, some from outside the Cajon Valley Union School District. The difference between 2020 and the last 17 years is one program that makes outdoor learning a key part of education at the school.

The school in a rural area east of El Cajon held its first Crest Outdoor Immersion program over 10 days this summer. School officials plan to bring the program into a year-round setting in a two-year pilot program where students spend three days in the classroom each week and two days exploring the outdoors. The classrooms will have multiple grades in them.

At the first in-person Cajon Valley Union School District meeting since the pandemic began, the support for the program from students, parents, teachers and members of the board was evident as supporters wearing blue shirts filled the board room with chairs spaced apart.


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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.

COVID TESTING OF TEACHERS, STAFF HOTLY DEBATED AS CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS REOPEN

By Barbara Feder Ostrov, CalMatters

CalMatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  parents and students mill around the McGaugh Elementary School parking lot during morning and afternoon changeover on Sept. 17. Los Alamitos Unified School District has reopened its elementary schools for hybrid in-person instruction with students attending either morning or afternoon sessions in the classroom in addition to distance learning. Photo by Tash Kimmell for CalMatters

September 26, 2020 (San Diego) - As schools throughout California tiptoe toward reopening, decisions about whether to routinely test teachers, staff and even students for the COVID-19 virus are proving controversial – and potentially costly. 


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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.

COVID-19 COULD ACTIVATE LATENT TUBERCULOSIS

Up to 13 million people may have latent TB in the U.S, which could be activated by COVID-19. It worries an SDSU researcher and TB expert.

By Padma Nagappan, SDSU News Center

September 24, 2020 (San Diego) - For most of us in the United States, our only awareness of tuberculosis (TB) may be the skin patch test required to work or volunteer in schools or health care facilities. But that could change during the pandemic.


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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.

HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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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.

HOMELESS HOUSING PROPOSED AT HOLIDAY INN: LA MESA HOLDS SPECIAL MEETING MONDAY, SUPERVISORS REVOTE TUESDAY ON PROJECT PUSHED THROUGH WITHOUT NOTICE TO CITY OR RESIDENTS

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

File photo: cart at a homeless camp in Spring Valley

Updated with information on additional actions La Mesa has taken in the past week and will consider this week to help its homeless residents.

View background report provided to council members

September 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – The state and county want to convert a Holiday Inn in La Mesa to provide 139 units of transitional housing for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless due to COVID-19.  Supervisors initially approved an application to the state for the “Homekey” project on Sept. 15 with no prior notification to the city of La Mesa, residents or businesses nearby. 


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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.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: TRUMP SENT FALSE INFORMATION ABOUT CALIFORNIA MAIL-IN BALLOTS TO VOTERS

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 17, 2020 (Sacramento) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra warns that voters in California have been sent a mailer by the Trump administration stating that mail-in ballots must “be requested” and that voters must “add postage to the return envelope if needed.” Both statements are false.
 
“Both statements could lead to voter confusion. In California, mail-in ballots will be sent automatically to registered voters starting October 5th — and postage is not needed to return your ballot in our state,” Attorney General Becerra says.

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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.

STATE REJECTS COUNTY REQUEST TO EXCLUDE SDSU COVID CASES THAT COULD TRIGGER NEW RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 17, 2020 (San Diego) – An outbreak of COVID-19 threatens to push San Diego County from the state’s red to the purple tier, a shift that could force temporary closure again of indoor operations at businesses including restaurants, worship services and gyms, also reducing capacity of retail stores to 25%.

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SDSU STUDENTS AND RESTAURANTS FUEL RISE IN COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery 
 
September 14, 2020 (San Diego) – Saturday, 265 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in San Diego County, including 29 new cases in San Diego State University students – bringing the total number of SDSU students infected to 624 since Aug. 24.
 
In addition, San Diego County Health officials report five new community outbreaks confirmed yesterday, including three in restaurants, one in a restaurant/bar and one in a business.  In the past seven days (Sept. 6 through Sept. 12), 16 community outbreaks were confirmed.
 
A study released this week by the U..S. Centers for Disease Control found that people diagnosed with COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined in restaurants in the prior two weeks than people who don’t have the virus, however the study was relatively small and did not ask whether people ate indoors or outdoors.

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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.

NEW STATE DATA SHOWS COUNTY SLIPPING TOWARD 'WIDESPREAD' COVID-19 TIER

By Christine Huard, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego News Association

Photo:  Based on data released by the state Sept. 8, San Diego County is headed toward “widespread” status, which will bring back restrictions. Map via https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.

September 9, 2020 (San Diego) - State data released Tuesday shows San Diego County is regressing in its fight against COVID-19, with the number of new cases per 100,000 people reaching 6.9 and the percentage of positive tests at 4.2%, perilously close to slipping into the “widespread” tier like much of the rest of the state.


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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.

WITH 184 COVID-19 CASES AT SDSU, COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER TELLS STUDENTS “STAY HOME” THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND

Update Sept. 9, 2020:  With cases up to 286, Dr. Wooten has ordered SDSU students to shelter in place through Sept. 14
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
September 4, 2020 (San Diego) – Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s pubic health officer, today urged San Diego State University undergraduates to “stay home within their living units this weekend” after 184 students tested positive for COVID-19 in 14 campus-related groups in housing and gathering locations since Aug. 24. “If you have been to parties and social events, you need to get tested, now. And isolate until you get results,” Dr. Wooten added.

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BACK TO BUSINESS: SALONS, SHOPPING MALLS, THEATERS, GYMS, RESTAURANTS, CHURCHES AND MORE CAN REOPEN MONDAY, WITH SOME LIMITATIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Roz Oserin, owner of Prete-a-Porter Salon and Spa, says cutting hair outdoors has been "an adventure" but she looks forward to resuming indoor services starting Monday.

August 29, 2020 (San Diego) –  Yesterday, the state announced new rules to allow many businesses and houses of worship to reopen in counties including San Diego, with streamlined new criteria.

Starting Monday, August 31, the new state tiered system allows the following businesses in our region to reopen, with the following requirements:


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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.

EL CAJON COUNCIL BACKS OFF MAYOR’S PROPOSAL TO BAN POLICE FROM ENFORCING COVID-19 RULES

By Miriam Raftery

August 29, 2020 (El Cajon) – At a special meeting yesterday, El Cajon’s City Council heard a barrage of public comments, nearly all opposed to Mayor Bill Well’s proposal to direct police to stop enforcing state and county COVID-19 laws and regulations including business closures, mask wearing and social distancing 

The Mayor indicated that on his Facebook page, however, he heard from many more people, most in favor if his plan.

 In the end, the Mayor proposed a watered down motion that leaves enforcement up to the police chief and ciy manager, with some council guidance.


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NEAR-DROWNING INCIDENTS INCREASE IN CHILDREN DURING PANDEMIC

By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

August 28, 2020 (San Diego) - An increasing number of San Diego children have had to be rescued from private pools after nearly drowning, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced.


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MAYOR WELLS URGES CITY TO DEFY STATE AND COUNTY COVID-19 LAWS AND REGULATIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated with comments from Gloria Chadwick and Randy Lenac, members of the Grossmont Healthcare District board

August 27, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells today announced on Facebook that he is convening a special meeting of the city council tomorrow at 3 p.m. to “discuss instructing our police to not enforce Covid-19 laws and or regulations… The state of California and the County of San Diego, of course, may continue to levy fines and criminal charges for violations, but I am proposing that the El Cajon police department not waste their valuable time enforcing mask, non-essential business and social distancing laws.”


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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.

STATE SENATOR BRIAN JONES TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, PROMPTING SENATE ADJOURNMENT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Facebook: Senator Brian Jones wearing a mask while speaking on the Senate Floor earlier this month

August 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)—State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) has tested positive for COVID-19. The finding prompted a temporary adjournment of the State Senate just days before the Aug. 31 end of the legislative session, putting the fate of some pending bills in question.

The announcement, made on Senator Jones’ social media sites today, states that he received the news after returning to Sacramento for the end of the legislative session.  The statements indicate he will be taking additional tests to rule out the possibility of a false-positive result.  “In the meantime, he’ll be following CDC and CDPH protocols for those receiving a positive test result,” his Facebook page states.  Those protocols recommend isolating at home while awaiting test results.

The statement does not indicate when or why the Senator was tested, or whether he has had any symptoms. Jones has been wearing a mask when speaking on the Senate floor, including as recently as Monday.


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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.

'THIS CHANGE IN POLICY WILL KILL': SCIENTISTS, MEDICAL EXPERTS WARN OF DANGEROUS LOOSENING IN CDC'S COVID GUIDELINES

"This is a stunning betrayal of public health that will spread the pandemic and lead to more unnecessary deaths." 

By Lisa Newcomb, staff writer, Common Dreams, reprinted under a Creative Commons license

Photo:  Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testifies during a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the plan to research, manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed, July 2, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

August 26, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - As the number of Covid-19 cases in the United States nears six million, and with more than 176,000 Americans dead from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quietly altered its coronavirus guidelines, worrying public health experts and raising suspicions among healthcare advocates that the moves are politically motivated.


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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.

SDG&E SUPPORTS TEACHERS WITH MATCHING FUNDS FOR DISTANCE LEARNING AND STEM PROJECTS; APPLICATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED

This is the 3rd year that SDG&E is supporting educators  through DonorsChoose

East County News Service

August 26, 2020 (San Diego) – Through a partnership with DonorsChoose, a crowdfunding platform, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has set aside $250,000 of shareholder funding to match donations that help support local teachers with distance learning and with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects.    

Eligible teachers can visit the DonorsChoose website to apply. The DonorsChoose match program will run from today until funds are exhausted or December 31, 2020. 


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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.

HIGH PRICES, LOW INVENTORY PUT SQUEEZE ON LOW-INCOME AND FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS AMID PANDEMIC

 

By Helen Horvath

 

August 22, 2020 (San Diego) - You might think that amid the pandemic’s economic uncertainties, when many people are unemployed or living on reduced revenues, people would be hesitant to invest in buying a home. Yet real estate experts interviewed by ECM report the opposite – a frenzy of competitive bidding pushing up prices of local homes for sale. While a shortage of inventory is benefitting home sellers, the pandemic pandemonium in San Diego County’s real estate market poses daunting challenges for first-time homebuyers and those with low or moderate incomes.  


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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.

WHILE MAJOR EVENT PLANNERS RALLY TO REQUEST AID AS SHUTDOWNS CONTINUE, TRIBES RESUME EVENTS, EXEMPT FROM STATE RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

August 24, 2020 (San Diego) – Due to state and county restrictions on gatherings of any size, most theaters, concert halls and other large event sites remained closed to prevent spread of COVID-19.  On Aug. 13, the San Diego Event Coalition held an “empty venue” rally to call not for reopening due to safety concerns, but for aid to assist the industry.  


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