COVID-19

COUNTY RELEASES DATA ON CORONAVIRUS CASES AMONG HOMELESS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Makeshift homeless tent in Lakeside

July 2, 2020 (San Diego) – Today, San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency released data on COVID-19 cases among homeless individuals. To date, 147 homeless people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Of those, 41 have been hospitalized, but fortunately, none have died.

Only 10.7% of those cases (12 total) occurred in homeless people in East County.  Central San Diego had the largest share, with 39.3% of the cases.

Only 16 of the 147 cases were in homeless people whose usual lodging is a shelter.


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COUNTY OFFICIALS WARN OF FURTHER RESTRICTIONS AS 474 NEW VIRUS CASES REPORTED

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

July 2, 2020 (San Diego) -- San Diego County public health officials warned Wednesday that recent re-openings will likely be rolled back as a near-record 474 new coronavirus cases and 7 deaths were reported.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said that if the current trends continue, San Diego County will likely be added to California’s “watch list” of counties by the weekend.

Counties on that list were ordered Wednesday to close indoor dining at restaurants, as well as movie theaters, museums and similar businesses, for three weeks. Orange, Riverside and Imperial counties surrounding San Diego were affected.

“We anticipate by the weekend that we will be on that list as well,” said Wooten at a media briefing.


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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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COUNTY EASES RULES FOR WINERIES AFTER ECM REPORT, BUT IMPOSES CURFEW FOR RESTAURANTS AND BARS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Woof N' Rose Winery in Ramona wil now be able to remain open, serving wine on an outdoor patio, under the county rule change allowed today.

June 30, 2020 (San Diego) – One day after ordering bars, breweries and wineries to shut down, county health officials today revised that order to allow most to stay open. That’s a big relief to East County wineries, which can now continue to offer winetasting outdoors without food. Wineries, breweries, distilleries and bars with indoor seating can also stay open, provided they serve alcohol with food. Those without food service licenses can team up with a restaurant or food truck.

The changes came after East County Magazine published an article quoting prominent wine owners voicing concern over the future of our region’s wine industry and hours after ECM's editor reached out to Supervisor Dianne Jacob to inform her staff of the winery owners' concerns. ECM's editor also posed a question on this issue during a virtual press conference with county health officials.

Today, the County also imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on all restaurants, bars and other eating/drinking establishments that serve alcohol. Patrons in the door by 10 p.m. may stay until 11 p.m. nightly.  Violators are subject to a $1,000 fine.


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WINERY OWNERS SAY SHUTDOWN OF BARS UNFAIR TO RURAL WINERIES, THREATENS TO CRUSH BURGEONING WINE INDUSTRY

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Outdoor patio at Vineyard Grant James in Ramona provides ample social distancing for wine-tasting guests

June 29, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – East County’s once-thriving wine industry is struggling under COVID-19 restrictions – and some local wineries may die on the vine now that the county has once again shut down all bars effect July 1, including wineries and breweries.

Now, some winery owners are criticizing the shutdown as overly broad and unfair,  since many rural wineries have outdoor patios or spacious tasting rooms and have been providing ample social distancing – unlike urban bars and crowded venues such as the Gaslamp District.


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COUNTY ORDERS SHUTDOWN OF BARS, WINERIES AND BREWERIES, HALTS REOPENING OTHER BUSINESSES

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency today ordered  bars, wineries and breweries to shut down starting July 1 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The county also halted reopening of any additional businesses until at least August 1, due to a spike in cases locally.

Although Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this week ordered bars in six counties to close and recommended closures in eight other counties, San Diego was not on those lists. However local officials made the decision to shut down the alcohol establishments after nearly 500 new cases were reported yesterday, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. Also, 7% of test results reported yesterday were positive, up sharply from the 4.1% rate over the prior two weeks.

Concerns are also rising over hospital capacity, since San Diego has taken some patients from neighboring Imperial County, where 23% of tests have come back positive in recent days prompting the state to order a return to a full lockdown there.

Today, Riverside County’s hospital ICU units hit 99% capacity, forcing hospitals to resort to surge mode, converting other hospital bed areas into ICU units to accommodate COVID-19 patients. San Diego could be asked to accept yet more patients from its neighbor to the north if Riverside's surge in cases continues.


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SURVIVING ON THE EDGE: A LOCAL MUSIC COMPANY AND COMMUNITY NONPROFIT FIND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS IN A COVID-19 WORLD

Part 1 of a 2-part interview with Dr. Leonard Thompson

 

By Helen Horvath

 

Photo:  Dr. Leonard Thompson, CEO and Michelle Thompson, Sr. Vice President, M.A.N.D.A.T.E Records

 

June 29, 2020 (San Diego) -- In this first of a two-part interview with Dr. Leonard Thompson III, CEO of M.A.N.D.A.T.E Records and Communications Director of the NAACP San Diego, Dr. Horvath and ECM discuss COVID-19’s impact upon his business and the mission of the NAACP. 

 

M.A.N.D.A.T.E’s acronym means “Making A Necessary Difference at the End.”


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CA AND OTHER STATES ORDER BARS CLOSED IN SOME AREAS; SAN DIEGO CRACKS DOWN ON VIOLATORS AS COVID-19 CASES RISE

Imperial County put back on full lockdown as positive test rates soar to 23%

By Miriam Raftery

June 28, 2020 (San Diego) – Across the U.S., states and counties that reopened broad sectors of their economies are rolling back some business re-openings as COVID-19 cases spike. On Friday, the governors of Florida, Texas, and California all ordered total or partial shutdowns of bars in efforts to slow the spread. 

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state has ordered bars in six counties to shut down and recommends that bars be closed in eight additional counties.

So far, San Diego is not on either of those lists and bars remain open, though that may change as the county's rate of hospitalizations from COVID-19 climbs.


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AMID PANDEMIC, EL CAJON ENDS LEASE WITH CRISIS HOUSE, PUTTING SERVICES FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS AT RISK

By Miriam Raftery

“It’s very likely that we won’t be able to provide the same level of service that we do today….The County has no walk-in services for the homeless, and pretty soon that’s going to be the way it will be in El Cajon.” – Mary Case, Executive Director at Crisis House (photo, left)

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an early lease termination agreement to oust Crisis House from city-owned property at 1034 Magnolia Ave. For the past 26 years, the city has leased the property to Crisis House for a dollar a year, recognizing the value to the community of the services provided by Crisis House, which has a mission to “break the cycle of poverty, domestic violence and homelessness and strengthen families and individuals so that they can thrive and transform their lives.”

The city wants Crisis House gone from is current location near the new Hampton Inn hotel.  So the Council-approved measure offers Crisis House $700,000 if it vacates the property by September 30th. That amount diminishes to just $350,000 by year’s end and $150,000 by March 31, or zero if Crisis house remains until the lease expires on June 30, 2021.

But Mary Case, Executive Director of Crisis House, says that’s not enough time to find an affordable space, adding that the action will almost certainly mean major cuts in services.


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PANDEMIC INFECTS SANTEE’S BUDGET, CAUSES $1 MILLION HIT TO SALES TAXES

By Mike Allen
 
June 28, 2020 (Santee) -- The city of Santee will sustain an estimated loss of $1 million in sales taxes in the coming fiscal year starting July 1, as a result of so many stores being closed or only partially open due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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LACK OF DATA COLLECTION BLOCKS EFFORTS TO ASSESS COVID-19 IMPACTS ON LOCAL MIDDLE EASTERN COMMUNITIES

Hear our  interview with Dr. Raed Al-Naser for KNSJ radio: click here.

By Briana Gomez

Photo, left: Doris Bittar

“Arab Americans are largely considered Caucasian, other, or unknown.  We are a disappeared minority, rendering us nearly invisible in the media and in medicine.” – Doris Bittar, President, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Diego chapter

June 25, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Minority communities across the US are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For example, nearly 67% of cases in San Diego are among Latinos and Hispanics, who comprise only 30% of the population, according to County Health Department  figures as of June 20.  But a lack of data on Arab and Middle Eastern Americans makes it impossible to accurately assess impacts of the pandemic on this population locally and nationally.

Audio: 


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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS

June 25,  2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.

HEALTH

SCIENCE AND TECH

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


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MLB, PADRES TO RETURN IN JULY

East County News Service

June 25, 2020 (San Diego) - Padres fans may soon have something to cheer about.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has announced that the MLB will officially begin a 60-day season, starting around July 24, according to ESPN.


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CAJON VALLEY UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT’S BUMPY ROAD TO A NEW SCHOOL YEAR DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 24, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District Board of Trustees has approved a plan to re-open its 27 schools this fall, after going to a state-mandated distance learning program in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The final plan approved by the board on June 11, however, looks different from what had been envisioned by the district’s Superintendent, Dr. David Miyashiro. The original plan would have had students continue to use internet teleconferencing exclusively, as they have been since mid-March.

However, after documents from a private meeting involving some 40 district employees at the Marriott Coronado Resort and Spa on June 6 and 7 were leaked to parents and to East County Magazine, Miyashiro’s vision began to unravel. Some 100 parents throughout the district quickly organized and descended on school district headquarters on June 9 for what was supposed to be a one hour board workshop to approve the measure.


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EUROPEAN UNION MAY BAN U.S. TRAVELERS DUE TO FAILURE TO REDUCE COVID-19

San Diego has eight community outbreaks, reopenings halted

By Miriam Raftery

Image:  Comparison of U.S. and European Union COVID-19 cases based on Johns Hopkins University medical data.

June 25, 2020 (San Diego)—If you’re planning a European vacation anytime soon, you may be out of luck. The European Union is looking to reopen to tourism from countries with low rates of the virus, travelers from the U.S. are expected to be banned, along with travelers from Brazil and Russia, the New York Times reports.

COVID-19 has largely diminished in Europe thanks to swift and aggressive actions by government in nations hard-hit there in late March. By contrast, cases have skyrocketed in the U.S., which had a similar number of cases in late March as Europe. But President Donald Trump never ordered a national lock-down or made masks mandatory; the U.S. was also late disseminating testing and sent inadequate numbers of personal protection equipment to medical providers.

The U.S. has had 11.3 million cases to date, more than any other nation on earth.  Over 120,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, which is more lives lost than from World War.


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EL CAJON EASES REQUIREMENTS FOR SIDEWALK CAFES AMID COVID RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – Owners of reopened restaurant are struggling to generate profits while complying with social distancing requirements of six feet between tables due to COVID-19. Now the El Cajon City Council has unanimously voted to make it easier for eateries to expand outdoors.

The Council approved a second reading on June 23 of an emergency ordinance passed unanimously June 9. It allows restaurants to skip cumbersome conditional-use permit requirements for sidewalk dining. The new ordinance will remain in effect through the end of this year, but an extension or option to make it permanent may be considered later on.

Previously, a conditional use permit, or CUP, required extra fees and delays due to an environmental review, followed by approval of both the Planning Commission and the City Council.


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CHILDREN’S NATURE RETREAT REOPENS AFTER COVID-19 SHUTDOWN: ANIMAL RESCUE NEEDS VISITORS AND DONATIONS

 

Source: Children’s Nature Retreat

June 23, 2020 (Alpine) -- The Children’s Nature Retreat, a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine with 140-plus domesticated animals, is reopening to guests.

The animal sanctuary is open by appointment only, limited to 50 people. Guests are required to wear masks at the entrance, and if they come within 6-feet of anyone outside of their family/household; visitors can roam the outdoor property on the self-guided tour without masks.


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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER COMMANDER ADDRESSES HEALTHCARE ACCESS DURING PANDEMIC

By Helen L. Horvath
 
June 23, 2020 (San Diego) -- In an interview with Captain Bradford Smith, Commander, Naval Medical Center San Diego*, East County Magazine explored the issues and challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for eligible active duty, veterans and family members residing in San Diego County. One of the greater challenges in the community is determining how healthcare can successfully be accessed by the community.

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SAN DIEGO COUNTY REPORTS JUMP IN COVID-19 CASES TO NEW DAILY RECORD OF 310

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

Photo:  A man is tested for coronavirus at a drive-up site. Courtesy County News Center

June 22, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County public health officials reported a daily record of 310 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, but no additional deaths from the disease.


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COUNTY TO CONTINUE VIRTUAL BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETINGS

By Michelle Mowad, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo: County News Center

June 22, 2020 (San Diego) -- Due to the restrictions on gatherings in response to COVID-19, in-person participation at the County Board of Supervisors meetings on Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24 will not be permitted. The public can watch the meetings live online or on television. They can submit eComments or request to speak via teleconference.

{Click "Read more" to see the convenient ways to tune in. Whether it's online, TV or phone, and/or more information on how to submit public comment.}


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COUNTY HITS COMMUNITY OUTBREAKS TRIGGER AS MASKS BECOME MANDATORY ACROSS CALIFORNIA

By José A. ÁlvarezCounty of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  Face coverings are required in public and within six feet of someone who is not a household member

June 18, 2020 (San Diego) - Two more COVID-19 community outbreaks were identified in the region June 17, bringing the region’s seven-day total to eight, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.


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NAIL SALONS, TATTOO PARLORS AND OTHER CLOSE-CONTACT BUSINESSES TO REOPEN

By Miriam Raftery

June 18, 2020 (San Diego) – The state has approved more businesses reopening in San Diego County as early as Friday, June 19th, including personal care businesses offering services such as manicures, facials, massages and tattoos.

 

Business owners must follow state guidelines and complete the County’s Safe Reopening Plan.


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CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER SHANE HARRIS RECOVERS FROM COVID-19, RETURNS TO NATIONAL STAGE TO FIGHT FOR RACIAL JUSTICE

East County News Service 

Photo, left:  Rev. Shane Harris during George Floyd march on bridge in Minnesota in late May

 

June 18, 2020 (San Diego) – Rev. Shane Harris, president of the People’s Alliance for Justice, spent two weeks in quarantine battling COVID-19.  Today, the nationally known civil rights leader based in San Diego announced he has tested negative and is returning to the public to lead multiple reforms ad proposals on inequalities in policing, racial justice and COVID-19.


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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 ANNOUNCES “ENERGY FOR OTHERS” MULTI-YEAR GIVING CAMPAIGN

Increased Contributions will Support San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, Civic Engagement and Social Justice

East County News Service

June 18, 2020 (San Diego) -- San Diego Gas & Electric has announced “Energy for Others,” a new multi-year giving campaign to support communities in need, civic engagement and social justice.

In March, SDG&E shareholders seeded The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund with its first $1 million contribution. With an additional $1 million contribution in 2020 and a $1 million commitment for 2021, SDG&E’s support of the fund now totals $3 million. The donations will help economic recovery, address food insecurity, assist with utility bills and more. SDG&E is also committing $500,000 to civic engagement and social justice causes, including an immediate $50,000 contribution to RISE San Diego, whose mission includes elevating and advancing urban leadership through dialogue-based civic engagement.  All contributions are funded by SDG&E shareholders.

“All of us at SDG&E care deeply about our communities and we’re honored to do our part in helping address the economic and social issues we face,” said Scott Drury, president of San Diego Gas & Electric.  “The senseless killing of George Floyd and other recent events serve as a sobering reminder that our country has more work to do before everyone is treated equally and with the same level of respect. RISE San Diego shares our values and commitment to respect, dignity and inclusiveness of all people, making them a strong partner to help advance progress.” 


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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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STATE AND COUNTY APPROVE SCHOOLS REOPENING: EDUCATORS GRAPPLE WITH NEW LEARNING REALITIES

By Miriam Raftery

 

June 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – After the state of California released a 62-page “Stronger Together” guideline for schools to reopen, the County Office of Education released its own extensive COVID-19 recovery and reopening plan for the nearly 800 public and 230 private schools in our region.


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NEW SANDAG REPORT FINDS BLACKS AND HISPANIC COMMUNITIES HARDEST HIT BY HEALTH AND ECONOMIC CRISIS

Source: SANDAG

June 17, 2020 (San Diego) -- As the San Diego region’s labor market continues to experience an historic decline, Black and Hispanic communities are most impacted, according to a new SANDAG Data Science and Analytics report, “COVID-19 Impact on the San Diego Regional Economy: Black and Hispanic Communities Hardest Hit.”


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AS COVID-19 CASES SPIKE NATIONALLY AND STATEWIDE, COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS ASK PUBLIC AND BUSINESSES TO HELP PREVENT OUTBREAKS

By Miriam Raftery

 

June 17, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County public health officials have voiced concern after four outbreaks of COVID-19 in a week have been traced to community settings including churches, restaurants and home gatherings.  Dr. Wilma Wooten, the County’s public health officer, reminds the public that if seven or more outbreaks occur in a week, the County would need to take protective measures,


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REMAINING RESERVOIRS IN EAST COUNTY REOPEN

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: El Capitan Reservoir in Lakeside is now back open to the public
 
June 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – After pressure from local elected officials and candidates, the city of San Diego has backed off his plan to keep six reservoirs in our inland region closed for the rest of this year. Three of the reservoirs in question have reopened within the past week and the remaining three will open in early July
 

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NONPROFIT MAIN STREET RELIEF REACHES 100 VOLUNTEERS HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES

Source: Main Street Relief

June 13, 2020 ISan Diego) – More than 100 people from across the country have joined nonprofit Main Street Relief’s volunteer network and its mission of helping small businesses respond to and recover from COVID-19. Volunteers have helped small business owners with federal funding programs, rent renegotiations and deferrals, strategic and financial planning, creative new revenue streams, and more. 


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