COVID-19

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. 

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. 

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. 

COUNTY TAKES STEPS TO ADDRESS COVID-19 DISPARITIES IN LOCAL LATINO COMMUNITIES AFTER ECM REPORTS, BUT THE PROBLEM IS NATIONWIDE AND SYSTEMIC

Hear audio of our interview with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez aired on KNSJ: click here

In exclusive interviews, ECM spoke with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Chicano Federation leaders on the problems and potential solutions

By Briana Gomez

July 28, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – After ECM’s special report on May 28 on the high rate of COVID-19 among local Latinos, the County of San Diego announced on July 21 that it is launching a new TV, radio, online and signage outreach campaign to the local Latino community aimed at overcoming information barriers on COVID-19. As of July 21, of more than 24,000 COVID-19 cases in our county with known race/ethnicity, about 60% are Hispanics or Latinos, yet Hispanics/Latinos make up only about 34% of the local population.

Audio: 

FEEDING THE HUNGRY AMID A PANDEMIC

By Helen Horvath

 

July 27, 2020 (San Diego) -- In an interview with Jim Floros, president and CEO of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, ECM discusses the push to end hunger in San Diego during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SHOULD I QUIT MY JOB? CALIFORNIA PARENTS GRAPPLE WITH EDUCATION IN A PANDEMIC

By Ricardo Cano and Lauren Hepler | CALmatters

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

Photo:  Kyla Hill, 5, left, Rebecca Hill, center, and Kaden Hill, 7, right, sit for a portrait at their home in Chico on July 23, 2020. Rebecca has to balance what's best for her children's education with their safety and that of her immuno-compromised husband. Photo by Salgu Wissmath for CalMatters

July 27, 2020 (San Diego) - They worry about who will care for the children and how far their education will slide.

They anxiously await details on what distance learning will actually look like this fall, hopeful but skeptical that there will be more structure and support than a spring of crisis education that left many dissatisfied.

PLANS FOR EMERGENCY SLEEPING CABINS FOR HOMELESS WOMEN AND CHILDREN MOVES FORWARD IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Amikas demonstration village in City Heights

July 26, 2020 (El Cajon) – A proposal to allow construction of emergency sleeping cabins on property owned by Meridian Baptist Church has been approved by the El Cajon Planning Commission and will next be considered by the El Cajon City Council, potentially as early as August 11.

COUNTY STARTS CRACKDOWN ON BUSINESSES NOT COMPLYING WITH COVID-19 RULES, RAMPS UP TESTING AS CASES CLIMB LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY

By Miriam Raftery

July 26, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County health officials reported 603 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths yesterday. Total cases locally have exceeded 26,000 while total deaths have reached 533.

The county remains on the state watch list.  In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the county this week announced that a Safe Reopening Compliance Team of county staff will be investigating complaints about “businesses that are flagrantly not complying with the local health order,” according to County News Service.

 Residents are encouraged to report businesses defying public health rules by calling their local police or Sheriff department’s non-emergency line.

SANTEE ENDS EVICTION MORATORIUM FOR COVID-19-AFFECTED TENANTS, APPROVES UPGRADES TO TELEVISE MEETINGS

By Mike Allen

July 25, 2020 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council voted to halt a moratorium on evictions of tenants who cannot pay their rent due to the coronavirus, citing the continuance of other financial back-up programs aimed at that purpose.

In a 4-1 vote at its July 22 meeting conducted via teleconference, the Council halted Santee’s moratorium effective July 31. The Council majority said a statewide moratorium on evictions of tenants remains in effect, and because the court system has not been operating, there aren’t any evictions happening anyway.

“As much as I hate to say this, I think we should rely on the state (to provide protections to tenants unable to pay their rent),” said Mayor John Minto. “We should give direction to staff to end this moratorium on a city level and allow it to proceed on the state level.”

Councilman Stephen Houlahan cast the sole no vote, and said the city should maintain the city’s eviction moratorium, a symbolic gesture of providing yet another safety net to local tenants who cannot pay their rent due to financial problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

CALIFORNIA TO HOLD DELAYED BAR EXAM ONLINE, LOWER SCORE FOR PASSAGE, AND ISSUE PROVISIONAL LICENSURE PROGRAM

By Miriam Raftery

July 23, 2020 (San Diego) – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time, the California Bar Association will be conducting the California Bar Exam online. The test required for licensing attorneys will be postponed from September 9-10 until October 5-6. The deadline to register is tomorrow, July 24.

HOW SAFE ARE CHILD CARE CENTERS AND SCHOOLS DURING THE PANDEMIC? EDUCATORS AND PARENTS GRAPPLE WITH UNCERTAINTIES

By Miriam Raftery

July 21, 2020 (San Diego)  - Should you send your child back to school this fall, if facilities are allowed to open? How much risk does in-school learning pose for children, teachers, staff and families amid the COVID-19 pandemic? Is distance-only learning really an acceptable substittute for in-person instruction?

These are questions every parent and educator is now confronting. A look at childcare facilities, which have remained open throughout the pandemic, as well as checking up on schools around the world in places that have reopened, can provide some lessons learned.

As of today, 90 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in child care facilities in San Diego, according to data updated daily by the California Department of Social Services. Statewide, the number of coronavirus cases reported by childcare facilities rose five-fold in just over a month, Ed Source reported last week. 

COUNTY HIRING HUNDREDS OF CASE INVESTIGATORS AS COVID-19 INFECTIONS SURGE

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

Photo:  San Diego County employee Esma Al Sabag is doing contact tracing in English and Arabic. Photo courtesy County News Center

July 21, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County public health officials announced Monday the hiring of hundreds of additional case investigators as COVID-19 continued to surge with 453 new cases.

SURVIVORS OF TORTURE VULNERABLE DURING PANDEMIC

 

By Kendra Sitton

 

July 21, 2020 (San Diego) - An estimated 35,000 torture survivors reside in San Diego County. Only one torture treatment agency is accredited to serve this vulnerable population in our county: Survivors of Torture, International. East County Magazine spoke with Survivors’ Community Relations Manager, Katrina Pimental, about their clients’ experiences during the pandemic. 

 

Many are facing job loss without access to government help. Mental health issues such as PTSD are triggered by lockdown measures which remind them of house arrest.  Many don’t qualify for CARES Act benefits and are struggling financially. Some have gone without food for days. Their asylum claims are in limbo. 

 

Our interview delved into these issues, as well as how the nonprofit is responding. 

HOTEL INDUSTRY REQUIRES MASKS ACROSS U.S., RELEASES TOP 5 TRAVEL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

Face coverings, physical distancing to be standardized at hotels nationwide

 

Source: American Hotel & Lodging Association

 

Photo:  CC-ND via Bing

 

July 20, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today released the “Safe Stay Guest Checklist” for guests on how to travel safely, also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide. This checklist is part of AHLA’s Safe Stay guidelines --an industry-wide, enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees. 

HOW WILL THE YMCA SURVIVE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

 

 

By Dr. Helen Horvath 

 

July 19, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In this ongoing series about impacts of COVID-19 to our families and vital community nonprofit services, ECM explores  the pandemic’s effects on operations at the YMCA of East County and San Diego County through an exclusive interview with Courtney Pendleton, Association Director of Public Relations and Communications, San Diego YMCA. 

 

The YMCA of San Diego County has served our region for 138 years with a dedication to strengthening our communities through physical activities that feed the mind, body, and spirit of our communities. The Y, as most people affectionately call the YMCA, has become one of the most diverse organizations serving our areaThrough the years, for many, the 18 YMCAs in San Diego County have become places of diversity and inclusion to meet up, exercise, socialize, and meet new and old friends while potentially learning new skills.  

But shutdowns of facilities, programs and fundraising events have posed daunting challenges for the YMCA to work out.  

SCHOOLS IN SAN DIEGO AND OTHER COUNTIES ON WATCH LIST CANNOT REOPEN UNTIL VIRUS RATES DROP FOR TWO WEEKS, STATE ORDERS

By Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2020 (Sacramento)  -- Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a five-point plan for reopening public and private schools. But 30 counties currently on the state’s COVID-19 are prohibited from reopening schools this fall – including San Diego County, unless major changes happen fast to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

A five-point plan issued by the state’s Department of Public Health will allow a district to reopen for live classes only after its county has a two week decline in COVID-19 cases.

The news deals a blow to districts such as Cajon Valley Union School District, which just resumed some summer school classes and had announced a blended learning model that gave parents options for in school, online, or a combination of learning options for students. Some other districts, however, such as San Diego Unified had already rolled back reopening plans due to high numbers of COVID-19 outbreaks locally.

HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS

CHURCHES DEFY GOVERNOR’S SHUTDOWN OF INDOOR SERVICES; LAWSUIT ALSO FILED CHALLENGING BAN ON SINGING

By Miriam Raftery

July 16, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Across San Diego County, several churches appear poised to openly defy state health orders that temporarily prohibit indoor worship services. In addition, a lawsuit has been filed challenging a state ban on singing during services.

Some churches have shifted to online worship services, services broadcast over TV or radio,  or outdoor services including drive-up versions. But others are planning returns to indoor services for their parishioners despite health risks, state and local bans.

On the reopening website for Skyline Church, parishioners are encouraged to RSVP for Sunday services at the megachurch’s facilities in Rancho San Diego and Lakeside.  The website makes clear that the services will not be outdoors (which is allowed) but instead will be indoors:  “Due to the attendance limitations and in an effort to create a safe, clean, and healthy worship environment, we will be limiting the number of people allowed in the main auditoriums.  Fortunately, we will also be opening the Chapel and Gym at the Rancho Campus for overflow, allowing more of our church family to gather on our campus.”  Sunday school classes for children will not be held.

AFTER ECM INQUIRY, COUNTY REVISES FLAWED RELIEF PLAN FOR RESTAURANTS, SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS DUE TO COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery

Update July 13, 2020: The County has changed these rules as a direct result of East County Magazine's investigation, after our editor made inquiries to Supervisor Dianne Jacob's staff and alerted La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Mary England, who immediately made calls as well.

A business license is no longer required of businesses in unincorporated areas. Proof of employees is no longer required for all-volunteer nonprofits.

July 10, 2020 (San Diego)-- Local small businesses, restaurants and nonprofits suffering financial losses due to COVID-19 can now apply for a grant from the County of San Diego. Supervisors approved the new Small Business Stimulus Program  on July 7, which will be funded with $17 million in federal CARES Act funding. 

However, East County Magazine has alerted Supervisor Dianne Jacob that documents required in the application will preclude most businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county from applying, as well as nonprofits that are volunteer run.

The applicaton requires that a business license be attached. However, the county no longer issues business licenses to businesses in the unincorporated areas, so only businesses with a license in an incorporated city can apply. A spokesperson for Supervisor Dianne Jacob has told ECM that in response to our inquiry, the County is considering eliminating that requirement, but as of last night, the application still required a business license.

The application also requries multiple documents to prove employment and payroll deductions, which nonprofits that rely only on volunteers do not have. Yet these nonprofits have lost significant revenues due to being unable to host fundraising events and donations down due to the pandemic, limiting their ability to fund needed programs and services. The application also requires complex monthly accounting documentation that some small nonprofits may lack.

Businesses and nonprofits able to qualify are urged to apply early.  Applications will be accepted through October 16, provided funds are still available. See below for details.

POWAY MAYOR VAUS PROPOSES PLAN TO LET FITNESS ACTIVITIES AND WORSHIP SERVICES USE PARKS DURING COVID-SHUTDOWN

 

Update July 15, 2020: The Poway City Council today unanimously approved this plan.

By Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2020 (Poway) –  Poway Mayor Steve Vaus has proposed a “Sharing Outdoor Spaces” plan to “allow local fitness biz & houses of worship to use areas in our parks until indoor restrictions lifted.” Vaus announced the plan on Twitter, which the Poway City Council will vote on tomorrow during an 11:15 a.m. meeting. View agenda.

The action comes after the state on Monday issued a order required all houses of worship, gyms, yoga, dance and other fitness organizations to cease all indoor activities until further notice in order to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.

“Similar to how we recently assisted Poway restaurants by providing picnic tables, I propose we help houses of worship and fitness-oriented businesses (yoga, Pilates, dance class, gyms, etc.) by providing space for their activities in our parks,” the Mayor’s proposal states, noting that the state has not banned such activities from taking place outdoors. Outdoor activities are considered less risky by health officials since the virus dissipates more quickly in sunshine and since people are not breathing recirculated air.

EL CAJON STARTS SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM, ALLOWS BUSINESSES SUCH AS BARBERS, SALONS AND RETAILERS TO MOVE OUTDOORS

City also weighs possibility of allowing city parks, such as Prescott Promenade (photo) downtown, to be used for outdoor faith services and business operations

By Kendra Sitton

July 14, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council today unanimously approved a plan to allocate almost $2.5 million for a Business Grant Program benefitting primarily nonessential businesses forced to close during the pandemic.

The city also took action to help many businesses and activities move outdoors, after the state shut down many indoor operations due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

LEMON AID: LEMON GROVE APPROVES CARES ACT FUNDING TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES AND RECOUP COVID-19 COSTS TO CITY

Council also votes to place cannabis tax on ballot

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 14, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – By a unanimous vote, Lemon Grove’s City Council on July 7 approved a staff proposal for allocation of federal CARES Act funding. The city will receive $480,774 through the county and another $334,243 through the state. The lion’s share will be spent to help small businesses. A substantial portion will also offset city costs related to COVID-19, while a small sliver of the funds will be spent on homeless services.

 

TEACHERS PRESS NEWSOM TO DELAY PHYSICAL SCHOOL REOPENING

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service (CA)
 
 
July 14, 2020 (Sacramento) -- The California Federation of Teachers is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to delay physical reopening of schools and direct districts to go to distance learning until COVID-19 infections drop and safeguards are in place.

AHEAD OF PEAK FIRE SEASON, GOVERNOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES MORE FIREFIGHTING SUPPORT AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

In early season fires, major changes to emergency operations and sheltering have been made to protect firefighters and evacuees

Source: Governor’s Office

July 13, 2020 (Sacramento) – Governor Gavin Newsom visited McClellan Air Force Base on July 9 to highlight the state’s wildfire mitigation capabilities and discuss new efforts to protect emergency personnel and evacuees from COVID-19 during wildfires. 

GOVERNOR ORDERS SHUTDOWNS OF MANY INDOOR BUSINESSES, CHURCHES AND MORE AS AVAILABIITY OF ICU BEDS DROPS

 

Indoor worship services, protests, gyms, malls, personal care services and non-essential offices must close

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 13, 2020 (Sacramento) – With only 36 percent of the ICU beds in the state available as COVID-19 cases surge statewide, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced broad new shutdowns. 

Counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list for three consecutive days, including San Diego and all Southern California counties, must shut down the following industries and activities (unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up):

  • Fitness centers
  • Worship services
  • Protests
  • Offices for non-essential sectors
  • Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

NATIONAL EDUCATORS, DOCTORS AND TEACHERS FORMALLY OPPOSE TRUMP THREAT TO FORCE SCHOOLS TO REOPEN

By Miriam Raftery 

 

Photo: Student in mask and face shield; Creative Commons-NC via Bing 

 

July 12, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – The nation’s largest organizations representing teachers, principals, children’s doctors and parents have issued statements strongly criticizing President Donald Trump’s push to reopen schools and his threat to defund schools that don’t fully reopen or rely on online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Trump fueled the controversy when he tweeted“Virtual Learning has proven to be TERRIBLE compared to In School, or On Campus, Learning. Not even close! Schools must be open in the Fall. If not open, why would the Federal Government give Funding? It won’t!!!” The President’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, during news shows today, backed the president’s call to financially punish schools that don’t fully reopen.   

 

On Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics responded by issuing a joint statement with the American Association of Teachers, the National Education Association and the School Superintendents Association.  Withholding funding from schools that do not open in person fulltime would be a misguided approach, putting already financially strapped schools in an impossible position that would threaten the health of students and teachers.  

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