LA MESA POLICE RELEASE NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF SUSPECTS WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS ON MAY 30-31

FIVE CANDIDATES VIE FOR THREE SEATS ON LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD

LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: PART TWO

ECM TO HOST EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE FORUMS

FAST-MOVING FIRES THREATEN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES

RED FLAG WARNNG: HIGH FIRE DANGER TODAY

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

SDG&E NOTIFIES APPROXIMATELY 700 BACKCOUNTRY RESIDENTS TO PREPARE FOR POTENTIAL PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFFS DUE TO SANTA ANA WINDS AND FIRE WEATHER WATCH

VIEW VIDEO OF OUR SUPERVISORS CANDIDATE FORUM

FIRM INVESTIGATING LA MESA CIVIL UNREST HOSTS COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSION OCT. 6

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DINNG AL FRESCO AT GIARDINO’S IN LEMON GROVE

RACIST HATE GRAFFITI DEFACES CHALDEAN AND SYRIAC CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN EL CAJON

News

HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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COUNTY OFFICIALS WARN OF RISE IN FENTANYL FATALITIES, USE OF COUNTERFEIT DRUGS AMID PANDEMIC

By Miriam Raftery

August 12, 2020 (San Diego) – District Attorney Summer Stephan is warning of an “alarming uptick” in overdose deaths caused by fentanyl.  Stephan says dealers are lacing various illegal drugs with fentanyl in what she calls “a recipe for death.”

At least 119 deaths so far this year are confirmed to be related to fentanyl in San Diego County, with another 84 deaths in which the drug is suspected to be a factor.  Isolation during the pandemic is believed to be a key factor contributing to the increase in addiction and fatalities.

According to a joint statement issued by state and federal prosecutors, law enforcement and county health officials, the number of deaths in 2020 is expected to exceed last year’s total of 152. 


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DEATH UNDER INVESTIGATION IN UNINCORPORATED LA MESA

East County News Service

August 12, 2020 (La Mesa) – In response to a call requesting a welfare check on a resident in the 4400 block of Carmen Drive in unincorporated La Mesa, Chula Vista Police officers found the body of a man shortly after 1 p.m. yesterday.  The Sheriff’s homicide unit is investigating.

The street was temporarily blocked off for an investigation overnight.

Lt. Thomas Seiver with the Sheriff’s homicide unit asks that anyone with information on this incident call (858) 285-6330/after hours at (858) 565-5200. You can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.


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WHAT CALIFORNIA KNOWS ABOUT KAMALA HARRIS

By Ben Christopher, CALmatters

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

Photo:  Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Aug. 9, 2019. Today, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced Sen. Harris as his pick for Vice President. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

August 11, 2020 (San Diego) - More than any other vice presidential contender in a generation, Kamala Harris’ biography is singularly Californian. 


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THE VEEPSTAKES ARE OVER - NOW WHOM MIGHT NEWSOM PICK TO REPLACE KAMALA HARRIS IN SENATE?

By Ben Christopher, CALmatters

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

Photo:  Then Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris walks on stage during a gun safety forum, Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. Today, Joe Biden announced Sen. Harris as his running mate. Photo by John Locher, AP Photo

August 11, 2020 (San Diego) - Joe Biden’s choice of California’s junior senator, Kamala Harris, as his running mate brings to a close the presidential campaign’s most frenetic guessing game. It also opens up a relatively rare thing in the Golden State: the prospect of an open Senate seat.


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INDEX OF FACEBOOK JOURNALISM PROJECT GRANT-FUNDED ARTICLES, PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES

Updated August 11, 2020

Our Facebook Project grant has so far enabled East County Magazine to create over 150 original local news articles on COVID-19 local impacts and innovations, as well as emergency and crisis reporting. We also created and/or expanded community resource sections and guides, converted our radio show to virtual broadcasts, and launched our virtual community "Movers, Shakers and Events" series, with more virtual events including candidate forums coming soon. Our first virtual candidate forum is set for August 13 featuring Congressional and Supervisorial candidates.

Below is an index of these grant projects:

  • COVID-19 local journalism
  • Emergencies and crisis reporting
  • Community resources in the COVID-19 era
  • Virtual community forums


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BANK ROBBER FOILED IN LEMON GROVE: FBI SEEKS TIPS

East County News Service

August 11, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – Yesterday at 1:34 p.m., a woman presented a note demanding money to the teller at Wells Fargo Bank, 7080 Broadway in Lemon Grove. The teller did not comply, so the would-be robber left on foot without any cash, says FBI special agent Davene Butler.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeks public help to identify the woman, who is described as black, thin, and approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall. She wore a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark  pants, white gloves, sunglasses, and a face mask.

The robber is described as a black female, thin build, standing approximately 5’8” wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. The robber covered her face and head with the hooded sweatshirt, face mask, and sunglasses. In addition, the woman wore white gloves.


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ONIONS AND ONION PRODUCTS RECALLED AFTER HUNDREDS SICKENED WITH SALMONELLA

East County News Service

August 11, 2020 (San Diego) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that hundreds of people have been sickened nationwide including 76 in California due to tainted red, yellow and white onions.  Around 86 cases resulted in hospitalization. In addition to fresh onions sold at major retailers, the onions have also been sold in pre-packaged foods such as pizzas, macaroni salad and fajita kits as well as in freshly prepared food items such as salads, sandwiches, tacos, salsas and dips.


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WATCH NOW: EAST COUNTY NEWSMAKERS, SHAKERS AND NEWSMAKERS FIRST VIRTUAL PROGRAM ON COVID-19 AND WILDFIRE SAFETY ISSUES

 

August 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On Friday, August 7, East County Magazine took our “Newsmakers, Shakers and Newsmakers” community forum/webinar series virtual.  Thanks to the #FacebookJournalismProject for supporting our community news reporting and virtual events in the COVID-19 era.

Thanks to all of you who sent in questions via email and social media for Dr. William Tseng, one of San Diego’s top COVID-19 experts, who shared the latest facts on COVID-19 trends and what the medical community has learned since the pandemic beganWhy does San Diego have a lower death rate than the nation?  What are the facts and myths about this disease?  How accurate are tests?  How can you help save lives if you’ve survived COVID-19?  What will it take to end the pandemic and return life to normal in our region?  Listen in to hear Dr. Tseng's fascinating responses.

Robyn Herrick, community resiliency advisor with SDG&E, discussed their upcoming drive-through Wildfire Safety Fairs coming up in Alpine, Pine Valley and Valley Center. Get details here

Hear what you need to know to stay safe this fire season – and how you get free devices to help you stay in communication even while you’re evacuated.


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LA MESA COUNCIL WEIGHS CARE ACT RELIEF FOR BUSINESSES AND RENTERS, PLUS POSSIBLE SALE OF PARKING LOT NEAR RESTAURANTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Some businesses have been hard hit by both the pandemic shutdowns and business disruptions from looting, fires and vandalism

August 10, 2020 (La Mesa) -- On Tuesday, August 11, the La Mesa City Council will consider topics of major public interest at a 5 p.m. closed session followed by a 6 p.m. public meeting. 

At the closed session, for which the public can email comments by 4 p.m., includes potential sale of a public parking lot with meters behind the burned Randall Lamb building and behind many restaurants and businesses on La Mesa Blvd.  

Also on the closed session, council will hear details of housing planned for the former police station site being leased for development, including affordable housing units.  

At 6 p.m., Council will consider how to spend CARES Act relief funds due to the pandemic.  Staff has proposed renter relief as well as grants for small businesses and city costs. The Council majority previously voted against aid to businesses, so Councilman Kristine Alessio is urging the public to speak out if they want to see help provided for struggling small businesses in La Mesa, as other East County cities have already provided.

Below are details.


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VIRTUAL COUNTY BUDGET HEARINGS BEGIN MONDAY

The recommended budget plan is part of a two-year operational plan that will help determine how the County spends its resources.

Following Monday’s budget hearing, an evening hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Budget deliberations and formal adoption of the first year of the budget plan are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Aug. 25.


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LMPD OFFICER IN TROLLEY STOP INCIDENT LEAVES FORCE: QUESTONS OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY REMAIN

By Miriam Raftery

Screenshot from video via Instagram: Officer Matt Dages and Amaurie Johnson in controversial stop

August 8, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police officer involved in the controversial stop of a  young Black man near the Grossmont trolley stop on May 28, is “not employed by the City of La Mesa in any capacity,” the city announced yesterday.

The terse statement provided no details on whether Officer Matt Dages resigned or was terminated, nor whether any wrongdoing was found in an investigation. He was placed on administrative leave pending an external investigation, the results of which have not been made public.

An assault charge against Amaurie Johnson, 23, was dropped after body camera footage failed to substantiate Officer  Dages' version of the incident.

The announcement of Dages' departure has drawn reactions ranging from relief to calls for greater accountability and transparency.


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FENTANYL DEALER SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON FOR DEATH OF RAMONA WOMAN

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: 2 milligrams of fentanyl, a lethal dose for most people (via the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency)
 
August 6, 2020 (Ramona) – Over 31,000 Americans died in 2018 of overdoses of synthetic opioids including fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin o morphine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports. The victims include a 33-year-old Ramona woman who died July 9, 2018 after buying illegal fentanyl from Michael Steen, 27. 
 
Yesterday in federal court, Judge Gonzalo Curiel sentenced Steen to 12 years in prison after he pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute over 500 grams of Fentanyl—including the deadly dose that killed the Ramona woman.
 

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TODAY: EAST COUNTY MOVERS, SHAKERS AND MOVEMAKERS LIVE AT 1 PM: ASK AN EXPERT YOUR COVID-19 QUESTIONS AND GET WILDFIRE SAFETY TIPS

August 7, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Our East County Movers, Shakers and Newsmakers series is going virtual! 

Watch us on Facebook Live at 1 p.m. today here:  https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine.  We'll also post video later on at our site at https://www.EastCountyMagazine.org

We'll be interviewing Dr. William Tseng, our local version of Dr Fauci!  Got questions? Email to editor@eastcountymagazine.org

Dr. Tseng is with Kaiser Healthcare. He's a trustee for the Calif. Medical Association, serves on the San Diego Medical Society's executive board, and is a volunteer instructor at UCSD's School of Medicine, with  a masters in public health from Johns Hopkins University. Hear the latest findings on COVID-19, learn what to do if you're exposed, what treatments show promise, and what it will take to get San Diego County off the state's watch list and on the road to recovery and reopening.

We'll also interview Robyn Herrick from SDG&E on their upcoming drive-through Wildfire Safety Fairs.


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ELDERLY PEDESTRIAN KILLED JAYWALKING IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

August 6, 2020 (El Cajon) – A man in his 80s was struck by a vehicle late last night at 11:36 p.m. while illegally crossing a roadway  in El Cajon, says Lt.  Jeremiah Larson.

The vehicle was traveling northbound on Jamacha approaching the intersection at East Main Street when it struck the victim, who sustained major injuries to his head and legs.

He was transported to Sharp Memorial Hospital for treatment where he later died from his injuries.

“It does not appear at this time drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision, said Lt. Larson. No description of the vehicle was provided in the ECPD release.


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CITY OF SAN DIEGO ENACTS RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

East County News Service

 

August 4, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego’s City Council has enacted a new program with payments of up to $4,000 per qualifying household to help with past-due or upcoming rental payments.  If you need help, the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program can assist low-income families in the City of San Diego who experience financial hardship due to COVID-19. 


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COUNTY SHOWS IMPROVEMENT IN COVID-19, BUT NOT YET ENOUGH TO ALLOW REOPENINGS

By Miriam Raftery

August 4, 2020 (San Diego) – Since landing on the state’s watch list for three triggers that forced renewed shutdowns of many businesses, San Diego County is finally making progress toward reducing spread of COVID-19. But those improvements are not yet enough to ease restrictions.

Here are the triggers, the progress, and what still needs to happen to enable schools and businesses to reopen in our region.


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WILL BILLS TO PROTECT AGAINST FORECLOSURE WIN PASSAGE IN TIME TO SAVE HOMES AND BUSINESSES? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY

By Miriam Raftery

August 4, 2020 (San Diego) – Five months into the COVID-19 crisis, many Americans still remain jobless, with millions of businesses shut down or operating at reduced revenues.  Unemployment benefits and stimulus check funds are running out for many who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Bills to provide long-term protection against foreclosure due to the pandemic have thus far stalled in Congress and the California Legislature, though a revised bill in Sacramento still offers hope for some. 

A measure to protect some commercial property holders is also in the works, such as hotels, retail, apartments/condominiums, industrial and commercial offices.

But will these measures win passage in time to prevent mass foreclosures, if they are enacted at all?  The federal CARES ACT in March temporarily halted foreclosures for nonpayment due to COVID-19 on federally backed home loans, an action Congress extended short term until August 31. Many other property owners have had no protections at all. On July 31, the $600 a week extra unemployment benefit also ended, putting more Americans in dire straits.

Advocates say impacted consumers and business owners should let their legislators know of their needs. Among our local legislators, some have been supportive and one is a coauthor of Congressional legislation. But others have been tone deaf, including an East County legislative representative who voted against mortgage relief for homeowners.


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COUNTY CHARGES RAMONA FITNESS CENTER OWNER FOR DEFYING PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS

By East County News Service

File photo of treadmills via Bing

August 3, 2020 (Ramona) – The owner of the Ramona Fitness Center could face up to 30 months in jail or a $5,000 fine for allegedly staying open in violating of state and county public health orders.

According to a criminal complaint filed Friday by the San Diego County District Attorney, Peter San Nicolas committed the violations on June 2, 4 and 5 as well as on July 15 and 17.  Each violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

All gyms were ordered closed in mid-March. In mid-June, they were briefly allowed to reopen, then shut down again in mid-July for indoor activities.


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DISEASE OUTBREAK STRIKES CALIFORNIA DEER HERDS

Source:  Calif. Dept of Fish and Wildlife 

Photo by Miriam Raftery

August 3, 2020 (San Diego) - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed outbreaks of adenovirus hemorrhagic disease in deer in several northern California counties, and is asking California residents to help curb the spread by not feeding wild animals, and reporting potential cases to the department.


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MAN ARRESTED FOR BATTERY OF PROTESTERS IN LA MESA; ECM PHOTOGRAPHER ALSO ATTACKED

View video of first attack on ECM photographer 

View video of second attack on ECM photographer

 

Help us identify the attackers. If you recognize either of these assailants, please contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org

 

Story and photos by Henri Migala

 

August 3, 2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa was once again the setting of a demonstration in support of racial justice and against police brutality on Saturday, August 1. Ironically, both protesters and counter-protesters aggressively sought to prevent media coverage by multiple outlets, raising the question of why many on both sides wanted to demonstrate their views without press coverage. 


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OUR 2020 JOURNALISM TEAM

Reflecting the diverse voices in our communities

 

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

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


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CRISIS HOUSE GETS EXTENSION FROM CITY ON RELOCATION AID

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

By Miriam Raftery

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

Update August 14, 2020: The Apple Fire is 90% containued after burning over 33,000 acres.  The fire has been found to be "human caused." https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/6902/53155/

Update August 3, 2020:  San Bernadino National Forest reports this morning that the fire is now five percent contained, with acreage and evacuations remaining the same as yesterday.

Update August 2, 2020:  The #AppleFire has scorched over 20,000 acres and remain zero percent contained. Find new evacuation orders here:  https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/7/31/apple-fire/.  The fire is now burning in both Riverside and San Bernadino Counties. New evacuation areas include Banning, Potato Canyon, and some areas north of Morongo Road.

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

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of Cleveland National Forest

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

At nightfall, the fire remains zero percent contained.


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FREEWAY CLOSURES IN LA MESA TODAY

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

 

Southbound SR 125 to Westbound Interstate 8 Interchange

El Cajon Boulevard offramp from Interstate 8 Westbound

Jackson Boulevard onramp to Westbound Interstate 8

Spring Street offramp from Eastbound Interstate 8


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

By Miriam Raftery

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

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


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FEDERAL LOANS AVAILABLE TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY CIVIL UNREST

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

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COUNCILMAN JERRY JONES ANNOUNCES RUN FOR MAYOR IN LEMON GROVE

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo by Jonathan Goetz

 

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


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

By Miriam Raftery

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


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