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

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

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

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

News

AMAURIE JOHNSON SUES CITY OF LA MESA OVER ALLEGED POLICE MISCONDUCT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Kendra Sitton

July 31, 2020 (La Mesa) – Amaurie Johnson, 23, whose controversial arrest near the Grossmont Trolley station sparked protests and accusations of racial profiling, has filed a law suit against the city of La Mesa and arresting officer Matt Dages.

On May 27, La Mesa Police have stated that Johnson, who is Black, was stopped for smoking in public and later arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.  After a May 30-31 protest and civil unrest, police later released footage from multiple body cameras which largely failed to back up the officer’s claims, showing Johnson touch Officer Dages, who is White, for a fleeting moment after Dages had grabbed Johnson by the shirt and Johnson vociferously objected.

LMPD announced that it would not pursue prosecution of Johnson and dropped the charges.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court, the officer lacked probable cause for the arrest. (A search of Dages failed to find any smoking materials or illegal substances).  The suit also contends that Johnson was the target of police violence due to his race.


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THEATERS IN THE TIME OF COVID

 
By David L. Coddon
 
Photo:  House of Joy, a virtual production of San Diego Repertory Theatre, courtesy of San Diego Repertory Theatre via Zoom productions.
 
July 30, 2020 (San Diego) - Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa has been producing for 82 seasons, but no season presented the artistic and financial challenges of its proposed 83rd.
 
Photo, right:  Beethoven, a Zoom production by San Diego Repertory Theatre, courtesy of San Diego Repertory Theatre via Zoom productions
“We’re just trying to figure out what to do,” said Paul Ericson, president of Lamplighters’ board of directors. “It’s very difficult to plan anything.”

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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. 


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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. 

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HOUSE FIRE DISPLACES LA MESA RESIDENT

By Miriam Raftery

July 29, 2020 (La Mesa) – A home in La Mesa was destroyed Tuesday, last night, in a fire that also caused minor damage to a neighboring residence.

Crews from Heartland Fire & Rescue in La Mesa and Lemon Grove responded, along with San Miguel Fire and San Diego Fire departments, to the blaze reported in the 4900 block of Williams Avenue in La Mesa around 8:15 p.m.

Fire crews arrived within six minutes to discover a  one-story single family dwelling with heavy fire and smoke.


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BEWARE OF SCAMMERS POSING AS DEA AGENTS

East County News Service

July 29,2020 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the public to be cautious of telephone calls by scammers posing as DEA employees attempting to defraud and extort victims.

The schemers call the victims, spoofing DEA phone numbers in order to appear legitimate, and threaten arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities unless victims pay a “fine” over the phone, via wire transfer, or through a gift card.

The reported scam tactics continually change but often share many of the same characteristics. Callers use fake names and badge numbers or names of well-known DEA officials and may:


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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. 


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SEEDS FROM CHINA SHOW UP IN EAST COUNTY MAILBOXES: DO NOT PLANT THESE, REPORT THEM, AGRICULTURAL OFFICIALS URGE

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 28, 2020 (La Mesa) – Across the U.S., residents in at least 31 states have begun receiving mysterious packages of seeds from China.  A La Mesa resident is among those to receive the unsolicited and potentially dangerous seeds, according to a photo and post on a local social media site.


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SDG&E HOLDS DRIVE-THROUGH WILDFIRE SAFETY FAIRS

By Miriam Raftery

July 28, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With fire season around the corner, SDG&E has announced a series of drive-through Wildfire Safety Fairs.  You can get a free emergency preparedness backpack and/or bucket, plus learn how to protect your family and property at upcoming drive-through wildfire safety fairs hosted by SDG&E.  The backpack includes a solar hand-crank radio, solar cell phone charger, 150 watt power inverter for plugging items into your car to charge, flashlight, 2.5 gallon water bag, first aid kit, toilet paper, face mask, insulated lunch box with reusable ice packs, glow stick and more.  

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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: 


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MANY SEATS LACK CANDIDATES AS AUG. 7 DEADLINE TO RUN FOR LOCAL OFFICES DRAWS NEAR

By Miriam Raftery

July 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The deadline to file to run for local offices is August 7 including school boards, water boards, fire boards, community planning groups, city councils and mayoral races. In some races, multiple candidates have pulled papers announcing intent to run (though none have yet turned in final paperwork to qualify for the ballot).  Other races have only incumbents running unopposed or in some cases, no candidates announced yet at all.

For example, in the controversy-embroiled Cajon Valley School District, where two seats are on the ballot, so far only incumbent Jim Miller has filed to run. No one at all has registered so far in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.

In the Helix Water District, so far incumbents Mark Gracyk, Joel Scalzitti and Dan McMillan are running unopposed.

All community planning groups in East County currently have fewer candidates than seats. If not enough people run, vacancies will be filled through appointment by County Supervisors to these positions that advise Supervisors on key land use projects. There are many other races still lacking a full slate of candidates.

Interest appears strongest in city council and mayoral races. Here’s who has announced intent to run so far:


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PARACHUTE FATALITY VICTIM IDENTIFIED

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 26, 2020 (Jamul) – Joseph James Wingen, 47, of San Diego has been identified as the man who died after skydiving in Jamul on July 19.
 
According to witnesses, Wingen’s parachute did deploy after he jumped out of the play and he appeared to be in full control of the equipment. However for unknown reasons, he drafted away from the landing zone and stopped steering his parachute.

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PASSAGES: GREGORY DENNY, JAMUL GRANDFATHER AND LITTLE LEAGUE COACH, DIES OF COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 26, 2020 (Jamul) – Jamul resident Gregory Denny, who worked at Taylor Guitars and was a former Little League coach, died July 24 in a hospital of COVID-19. His wife, Kim Kallege Denny, announced his passing on Facebook, calling him her soulmate and best friend, adding, “He is now my guardian angel.”


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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.


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CASKET OF REP. JOHN LEWIS CARRIED ACROSS EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE 55 YEARS AFTER SELMA'S BLOODY SUNDAY

"An incredibly moving and fitting tribute for John Lewis, a man who carried the baton of justice until the very end."

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams under a share-alike 3.0 Creative Commons license.

Photo:  A horse-drawn carriage carrying the body Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge on July 26, 2020 in Selma, Alabama. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

July 26, 2020 (Selma, Ala.) - The casket of Congressman John Lewis, who died on July 17 following a battle with pancreatic cancer, was carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Sunday 55 years after the Georgia Democrat led a civil rights protest march and was beaten by Alabama state troopers in an event that has since been known as Bloody Sunday.


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GOP CORONAVIRUS RELIEF PACKAGE TO INCLUDE ROMNEY BILL THAT WOULD 'FAST-TRACK SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE CUTS'

"In the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, they should be focused on protecting seniors, essential workers, and the unemployed. Instead, they are plotting to use the cover of the pandemic to slash Social Security." —Nancy Altman, Social Security Works

 

By Jake Johnson, staff writer, Common Dreams

Reprinted under Creative Commons 3.0 share alike license

July 26, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- Shortly after publicly ditching one attack on Social Security—the payroll tax cut—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) confirmed Thursday that the Republican coronavirus relief package will include legislation sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) that one advocacy group described as an "equally menacing" threat to the New Deal program.


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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.


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PROTEST OF DUBIOUS ORIGIN FIZZLES IN LA MESA

By Henri Migala 
 
July 25, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Police and "counter-protesters" outnumbered a small number of would-be protesters around the La Mesa Police Station today during an event of questionable origin and intent.  

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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.


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CYT SHUTS DOWN ALL LOCAL PROGRAMS INDEFINITELY AMID STORM OF SEXUAL ABUSE COMPLAINTS

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – After numerous former students alleged sexual abuse by instructors, Christian Youth Theater posted yesterday on its Facebook page, “As of today, CYT San Diego social media will no longer be active since we will not be holding any programming or reopening until further notice. Please visit our website at www.cytsandiego.org to contact us directly if you have any questions or statements. We are here to listen. We are here to learn. We love and support our ENTIRE CYT family.”


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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WORKS TO GUT PAYDAY-LENDING SAFEGUARD

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

July 24, 2020 (Washington D.C.) --  The Trump administration released a proposal this week that would make it easier for banks and payday lenders to charge sky high interest rates - despite California laws against predatory lending.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency wants to overturn the "true lender" doctrine and allow payday lenders to evade state interest-rate caps by listing a bank as the lender.

Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center, says this will bring back rent-a-bank schemes and allow companies such as OppLoans and Loan Mart to charge 100% or even 200% in interest.

"It's outrageous at this time of economic crisis that the Trump administration, in action after action, is siding with predatory lenders charging outrageous interest rates that just push people into debt and make it harder and harder for them to feed their family," says Saunders.


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LA MESA POLICE RELEASE VIDEOS OF LESLIE FURCRON INCIDENT, IDENTIFY OFFICER INVOLVED

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo:  Detective Eric Knudson with La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Mary England during "Salute to Local Heroes" event, where he was honored in 2018
 
July 23, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police today identified the officer who fired a beanbag that struck protester Leslie Furcron on the forehead during a chaotic protest outside the LMPD station on May 30, 2020, seriously injuring the Lemon Grove grandmother. Police also release two body camera videos of the incident, as well as a critical incident video and additional information.

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PROTEST PLANNED AT LA MESA POLICE STATION ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 1

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – Another  protest against the La Mesa  Police Department  has been announced  for Saturday, August 1, at 3:30 p.m. outside the La Mesa Police Department. The flyer indicates that "civil disobedience" is planned and indicates this event is for adults only. The action comes amid nationwide protests calling for police accountability and racial justice.

The protest comes two months after a May 30 protest over police and racial justice issues dissolved into a riot that ended with police pelted by rocks and bottles, three buildings burned down and dozens of buildings looted. However several protests that remained peaceful have been held since then including a unity rally and Juneteeth rally.


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SIGNS OF THE TIMES: TWO DOWNTOWN EL CAJON BUSINESSES CLOSE

By Robert Gehr

Photography: Robert Gehr

July 23, 2020 (El Cajon) -- On my walk this morning, I noticed two businesses in downtown El Cajon closed and nearly emptied of furnishings.  Both Rock a Betties Beauty Salon and Thrill Seekers have closed these locations, with rent signs in the windows.

Thrill Seekers, a retail establishment at 164 East Main Street, still has a website. A second location at 1421 Woodside Ave. Suite C, Santee remains open for customers. The owner of Thrill Seekers told ECM's editor that relocating to Santee was not related to the pandemic and that his business is "doing just fine."

State and county mandated closures due to the COVID-19 epidemic may have played a role in the permanent loss of Rock A Betties Beauty Salon at 158 E. Main St. El Cajon, a long-time fixture in the community. The shop has has taken its website down and the phone is disconnected.


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CHRISTIAN YOUTH THEATER IN SPOTLIGHT FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE OF STUDENTS AND RACIAL BIAS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo, left: CYT’s 2014 performance of Les Miserables on Mt. Helix

July 23, 2020 (El Cajon) – Christian Youth Theater (CYT) a national junior theater organization based in El Cajon, is now in the spotlight over allegations by former students of sexual abuse and racism dating back decades. 


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SANTEE’S OFF BROADWAY LIVE WILL START SINGING AGAIN JULY 31 AT NEW OUTDOOR SPACE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

July 23, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s Off Broadway Live will start performances again ----outside of their theater on 9490 Cuyamaca Street.  The theatrical company is adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic by constructing a performance area and seating section in the parking lot.

Arts organizations have been hard-hit by the pandemic, which has caused statewide shutdowns of theaters and concert halls since mid-March, with no opening date yet in sight for indoor live performance venues.  So like more and more businesses in other sectors, Off Broadway Live has opted to move musical theater productions outdoors.


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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.


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ACLU TAKES BORDER WALL FIGHT TO SUPREME COURT, SEEKS HALT TO DESTRUCTION OF SACRED SITES, WILDLIFE AND PROTECTED SCENIC AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

 

File photo: A section of the old border fence being torn down in San Diego’s East County as work continues on new wall despite lawsuit and pandemic

 

July 23, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt construction of President Trump’s border wall. In a motion filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, the ACLU is urging the court to lift an earlier stay that allowed the Trump administration to divert $2.5 billion from military pay and pension funds for border wall construction that Congress had specifically denied. 


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: NEOWISE COMET OVER EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

July 23, 2020 (Borrego Springs) -- Photographer Scott Burnham captured this amazing image of Comet Neowise over Borrego Palm Canyon from the edge of Borrego Springs on Friday evening, July 17.

The icy comet will make its closest approach to Earth tonight, and may be seen through July 25.

Once it’s gone, it won’t return for another 6,800 years. 


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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. 


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