San Diego

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.

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: 

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.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

GREG PALAST, INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, HOLDS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR FRIDAY, JULY 17 ON “HOW TRUMP STOLE 2020” WITH SAN DIEGO’S KNSJ RADIO

Source: KNSJ

July 16, 2020 (San Diego) -- Greg Palast, internationally-known investigative journalist, will be making a virtual appearance in San Diego for KNSJ 89.1 FM community radio on Friday, July 17 at 7 p.m.  According to KNSJ general manager Martin Eder, “This is an exclusive interview in San Diego and a fund raiser for KNSJ.  Greg Palast is on tour with his latest book, ‘How Trump Stole 2020. Greg is a no-holds-barred journalist.  He is exactly the kind of watchdog our democracy has to have to survive.  Friday Greg will tell us in detail what his investigations have found.” 

Tickets for this exclusive virtual event can be reserved on KNSJ’s Facebook page.  Tickets are by donation.  No one will be turned away for lack of funds.  Larger donors will be mailed a copy of Palast's book and other premiums to support local community radio KNSJ.

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.

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

ACCESSING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES AMID A PANDEMIC: BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF EAST COUNTY ADAPT TO CHALLENGES

By Helen Horvath

 

July 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In this continuing series of interviews about the impact of COVID-19 upon nonprofit organizations serving the East County communities, East County Magazine interviews Forrest Higgins III, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of East County. The mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County is “to enable all young people, especially those that need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

 

COVID-19 has stripped away many nonprofit’s abilities to generate revenue and sustain programs and services without creating modifications to how the non-profit operates.  This includes the Boys and Girls Club of East County (BGCEC) a local 501(c)(3) non-profit.

 

INDOOR DINING AND THESE OTHER BUSINESSES MUST SHUT DOWN FOR THREE WEEKS STARTING TONIGHT

 

Congressional candidate calls for new round of relief for businesses ordered to shut down again

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Dr. Wilma Wooten briefing (screenshot from video)

July 6, 2020 (San Diego) – Starting at midnight, all indoor service must stop in restaurants and wineries. Outdoor dining and activities can continue, as well as curbside pickup services.

Indoor family entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys also must shut down, though outdoor facilities such as zoos can remain open.  The order is in effect for the next three weeks.

County health officials ordered the closures today in response to being placed on the state’s watchlist due to exceeding three COVID-19 pandemic trigger levels for positive cases in the past two weeks, the number of active community outbreaks, and a backlog in tracing new cases.

ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE SAN DIEGO AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY

Part One: ECM interviews Dr. Suzanne Affalo, Medical Director, Alliance Health Clinic and retired Kaiser Permanente physician 

By Angela de Joseph

Photo courtesy of Dr. Suzanne Affalo

July 3, 2020 (San Diego) There is a saying, “When America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia.” In the case of COVID-19, this old adage is true. The national coronavirus mortality rate for African Americans is about 2.3 times as high as the rate for Whites and Asians, about twice as high as the Latino and Pacific Islander rate, and 1.5 times as high as the Indigenous rate. But, not in San Diego. 

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.

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.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

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.

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.

JULIAN WELCOMES VISITORS BACK



By Bobbi Zane

June 18, 2020 (Julian) --Julian shop and restaurant owners are now back open to serve visitors, though the rules have changed in the historic gold rush town located in San Diego's back country.

"Visitors no longer need to stay at home,” says Robin Boland, manager of the Julian Chamber of Commerce. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Chamber had earlier asked visitors to stay away to prevent brining the virus to the mountain town which customarily thrives on tourism.

Restaurants and one-of-a-kind charming shops have lined both sides of Main Street for many years. Julian is also known for excellent restaurants, though Julian is most faous for its apple pies, known as the new gold that draws visitors to Mom's Pie House and Julian Apple Pies.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

June 18, 2020 (San Diego) -- East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego's inland regions, published in other media.  This week's round-up stories include: 

LOCAL

STATE

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

HEALTHCARE IN A COVID-19 WORLD: ACCESS FOR LOCAL VETERANS

In an exclusive interview, the Director of San Diego’s VA Healthcare System shares insights and challenges

 

By Helen Horvath, Army veteran

 

June 11, 2020 (San Diego) – The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up a wide variety of complex systemic blind spots in our healthcare system, including care for military veterans. This has been the result of how the various private sector and government agencies initially responded to the pandemic. 

READER'S EDITORIAL: TIME TO LISTEN AND TO CHANGE RACIAL INJUSTICE IN OUR NATION AND OUR WORLD

By Andy Salmonsen

Photo, left, by Henri Migala:  George Floyd protest in La Mesa May 30 drew many white participants and people of all races marching in solidarity against racism and police violence

June 7, 2020 (Jamul, California) – This week, I spoke with a good friend and fellow musician.  He is truly a great person and a good man.  I could talk about his talent, his humor, and his personality, but that is not what this is about.  I asked if I could mention him in the post and he said yes.  But as I write this, I don’t want to mention his name because that’s not what this is about, and I don’t want to detract from what really matters.  I will call him Mr. C.   Mr. C Is black.  I asked him if I should reference black people or African American and he said black was ok.   Black lives matter.  I asked him that question because I am white, and I don’t know what it’s like to be black.  I have no idea.  72% of us in the United States have no idea what it is like to be anything other than white.

The conversation was about what I thought of the situation in our nation right now regarding George Floyd, and also why had I not posted anything about how I felt.  Mr. C is really feeling this, he is protesting and he if standing up for what he believes.  I listened to him as he told me how he was feeling and how a lot of his white friends seemed to say the same thing I did, “I don’t really post.”  Mr. C and I love each other like brothers, but I think he was wondering who I really was, who was I underneath in my heart and soul?  It brought me to tears hearing his voice and his pain.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

COUNTY READIES TO REOPEN WIDE RANGE OF ENTERTAINMENT VENUES, BUT URGES TESTING OF PROTESTORS AND PEOPLE WITH COVID SYMPTOMS

240 new cases and 6 more deaths reported

Source: County News Service

Photo: Wineries such as Hatfield Creek Winery in Ramona are among the local businesses that may be able to open starting June 12.

June 5, 2020 (San Diego) -- Starting June 9, beachgoers will be allowed to park in lots at local beaches, the County announced today, though coastal communities may opt for stricter rules. The County also received new guidance from the state on additional sectors that can reopen, with restrictions, as early as Friday, June 12 including:

  • Gyms
  • Hotels
  • Bars and wineries
  • Museums, galleries, zoos and aquariums
  • Professional sports without spectators
  • Day camps
  • Campgrounds and RV parks
  • Family entertainment (bowling alleys, batting cages, etc.)
  • Card rooms and racetracks
  • Music, film and television production

WITNESS TO CHAOS

 

 

Story and photos by Jake Rose, photographer

June 5, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Afternoon protests against police violence in La Mesa on Saturday afternoon started off entirely peaceful. After the march on May 30, the crowd moved to the La Mesa Police Department parking lot, their final destination. The crowd advanced up the steps to the front door without incident and remained there chanting and cheering for about an hour, until someone in the crowd threw a small plastic water bottle towards the police guarding the building.

The police immediately responded with tear gas and concussion grenades and the crowd dispersed across the parking lot. After a few minutes, the crowd slowly reconvened in front of the police station and began chanting, until again, a water bottle was thrown and the chaos repeated itself.

REV. SHANE HARRIS BRINGS SUPPORT TO FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD IN MINNEAPOLIS AND FIGHTS FOR REFORMS TO HALT POLICE KILLINGS

“The arrest of George Floyd should not have been a death sentence. What you saw when you looked at the video of the killing was a policeman who was the judge, the jury, and the executioner.” – Rev. Shane Harris, People’s Alliance for Justice, in an exclusive interview with ECM

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of Rev. Shane Harris, shown on Hennepin Bridge in Minneapolis

May 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- The brutal killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis has sparked protests and civil unrest nationwide. The Washington Post has compiled video from multiple sources, documenting that after a store clerk alleged Floyd used counterfeit payment at a store, Officer Derek Chauvin handcuffed Floyd and later knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring gasps of “I can’t breathe!” Three other officers failed to intervene.

Four nights of protests  in Minnesota ensued, including rioting and burning a police station.  Minnesota’s Governor has called in the National Guard, declaring that most protesters are outside agitators. Officer Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter; all four officers were fired. But many believe more must be done for justice to be served.

Reverend Shane Harris, a national civil rights leader and founder of the People’s Alliance for Justice (PAJ) based in San Diego, flew to Minneapolis on Friday and provided an exclusive phone interview to ECM on Friday night.

PLASMA FROM RECOVERED COVID-19 PATIENTS NEEDED TO TREAT OTHERS LOCALLY

Source: By Miriam Raftery

Photo: CC by NA - SC

May 29, 2020 (San Diego) -- The San Diego Blood Bank is partnering with the County to encourage San Diegans who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma, the liquid part of blood which contains antibodies. This plasma could help treat people who are hospitalized or seriously ill from the novel coronavirus.

While currently there is no vaccine or proven treatment for COVID-19, “convalescent plasma may help patients fighting the virus because the plasma has antibodies against it,” the County’s top health official announced yesterday.

“This partnership helps us to achieve one of the indicators at the federal level for treatment of COVID-19,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We’re very excited about this partnership.”

WHY ARE LATINOS DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED BY COVID-19 IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY?

By Briana Gomez

Photo, left: Briana Gomez and her daughter, Aya, with masks from Chicanista Boutique, a Chicana-owned San Diego business

May 28, 2020 (San Diego) -- COVID-19 has plagued millions globally, hitting San Diego at over 5,000 cases according to recent CDC data. The virus has disproportionately impacted San Diego County’s Latino population.

According to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, 60 percent of COVID-19 positive tests in San Diego County are among Hispanic or Latinos. Equally troubling, CBS 8 reports that 41.1% of deaths locally are among Latinos.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

May 27, 2020 (San Diego) -- East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego's inland regions, published in other media.  This week's round-up stories include: 

LOCAL

STATE

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

BAD HAIR DAYS ARE OVER: COUNTY AND STATE APPROVE REOPENING OF BARBER SHOPS AND HAIR SALONS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo by Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) --Today in a televised update on COVID-19, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that hair salons and barbershops in most counties will now be able to reopen their doors. The businesses must meet the state’s reopening guidelines .

 Late today, San Diego County approved allowing local salons and barbershops to reopen as soon as they implement and post a safe reopening plan. 

Supervisor Dianne Jacob called the Governor’s action “another welcome step in getting our businesses back into business."

The order does not apply to nail salons, however, and certain close-contact services remain prohibited including facials, shaves, eyebrow waxing and threading, and eyelash treatments.

RESIDENTS, HEALTHCARE GROUPS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS REACT TO RESTAURANT AND RETAIL REOPENINGS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: On Friday, Sheldon's Station in La Mesa prepared for reopening with new socially distanced tables. The owner told ECM  that despite offering curbside pickup, he's lost approximately 60% of his business since the shutdown began in mid-March and has not received any federal aid, for which he applied.

May 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On social media, East County residents shared reactions to decisions by state and county officials allowing restaurants to reopen for dine-in service and retailers to allow customers inside stores after a two-month closure due to the  COVID-19 pandemic.

While some voiced joy at savoring a meal out, other expressed trepidation.  Local healthcare officials, politicians and activists have also weighed in with their views on the easing up of restrictions.

REV. SHANE PROTESTS CUTS TO LIBRARY FUNDING DURING COVID ERA ON BIRTHDAY OF MALCOLM X

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Brian Goodin: Rev. Shane Harris, outside Malcolm X Library, speaks out to protect library funding

May 23, 2020 (San Diego) – Civil rights leader Rev. Shane Harris with the People’s Alliance for Justice held a press conference to protest library budget cuts at the Malcolm X Library in San Diego on May 20th, birthday of the slain human rights leader for whom the library is named.

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