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WATCH: Governor Newsom To Provide Update On California’s Response To Coronavirus

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WATCH: Governor Newsom To Provide Update On California’s Response To Coronavirus

– Monday, April 13, 2020

WATCH LIVE here:

San Diego County Reports 43 New Coronavirus Cases, No New Deaths

– 2:30 p.m., Sunday, April 12, 2020

San Diego County officials reported 43 new coronavirus cases in the county on Sunday and no new deaths.

Officials provided the updated numbers in a new release issued Sunday afternoon, in lieu of their daily press conference.

In California, the number of coronavirus cases rose to 21,794, 1,169 more than what was reported Saturday. Forty-two new deaths were reported statewide, bringing the total virus-related deaths in the state to 651, according to the California Department of Public Health.

In total, there are 1,804 confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Diego County and 45 deaths connected to the virus. Of those 1,804 cases, 415 cases have required hospitalization and 152 patients had to be placed in intensive care.

Officials said Saturday that the number of cases in San Diego had not yet “peaked” in the county, but commended residents for “flattening the curve” by strictly following social-distancing guidelines. – KPBS Social Media Strategist Laura McVicker

San Diego Mayor Encourages Home Worship On Easter, Passover

– 8:15 a.m., April 12, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has urged San Diegans to celebrate Easter and Passover from home to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Stay-at-home orders will be strictly enforced on Easter Sunday, said Faulconer, who added that he believed the majority of San Diego faith organizations have adapted to the public health orders despite their impact on the holidays.

“Those traditions, of course, will be different this year, and they must be different to help keep everyone safe,” Faulconer said. “COVID-19 is an equal opportunity disease that is affecting people across the globe regardless of race or religion.”

Pastor Miles McPherson of Rock Church said at a City Hall news conference that worshippers should focus on the meaning of Easter rather than the physical limitations caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Rabbi Devorah Marcus of Temple Emanu-El said her synagogue, like congregations of various faiths, has been streaming its services from an empty room featuring just the leader.

“At the beginning of this process, it definitely felt strange, but we have all found new ways to connect more deeply across all of the electronic media and to feel closer than ever,” Marcus said.

Marcus said her congregation was referring to the current times as “sacred distancing” rather than social distancing, “which implies loneliness and isolation.”

Preparations for online religious services come as several churches across the nation contend their local public health orders restricting religious public gatherings are unconstitutional.

On Friday, the Campo-based Abiding Place Ministries was denied a motion for a temporary restraining order against San Diego County’s public health directive to hold an Easter Sunday service.

The county advised church leaders they could stream their Easter service online, but said church members must stay at home. – City News Service

COVID-19 International and National Headlines

– 5:21 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic that has crippled big-box retailers and mom-and-pop shops worldwide may be making a dent in illicit business, too. In Chicago, one of America’s most violent cities, drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the mayor ordered the city to shut down, compared with the same period last year. Overall, Chicago’s crime declined 10% last month, a trend playing out across the U.S. Much of the decrease has taken place because of tougher security policies and gang truces. But the imposition of near-total limits on movement is likely driving it down further.

Walt Disney World plans to stop paying wages to 43,000 workers in about a week while allowing them to keep their benefits for up to a year as they stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. The deal with the workers unions was announced on Saturday. This is the largest wave of furloughs since the theme park resort closed in mid-March. Workers will be able to keep their medical benefits for the length of the furlough period, or up to a year. Seniority and wage rates will remain unchanged for the workers whose furloughs start April 19. About 200 workers will remain on the job.

Iran will begin reopening government agencies after a brief nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has killed more than 4,300 people in Iran, which is battling the worst outbreak in the Middle East. Authorities had ordered most government agencies and businesses to remain closed for a week after the Nowruz holiday ended on April 4. State media say government offices outside the capital will reopen, with a third of employees working from home. Businesses outside Tehran were also allowed to reopen. In Egypt, police used tear gas to disperse villagers after they tried to prevent the burial of a physician who died from the virus, fearing it would spread the disease. – Associated Press

SD County Announces 68 New Cases of COVID-19 And A New Position To Coordinate Testing

– 3:43 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

At a press conference Saturday afternoon, county officials announced one new death and 68 new positive cases of COVID-19 in San Diego county. The death was of a man in his early eighties.

While officials said that San Diego has not yet “peaked” in the number of cases in the county, they commended residents for “flattening the curve” by strictly following social-distancing guidelines.

Officials also warned against relaxing any of the current safety precautions, which they say have bought medical professionals time to prepare for the eventual peak of the pandemic in the county.

Watch here:

“It would be the greatest shame to throw away all of that progress and to waste all of that sacrifice because we got impatient, because we got anxious, because we lost focus,” said county supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

“We have to trust what we’re doing. We have to trust the path that we’re on. We have to trust our public health experts, doctors and their advice, and we have to trust one another to stay the course and see this through.”

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said that only after the cases in the county peak would they be able to reevaluate relaxing some social-distancing guidelines, and only in a gradual way.

Supervisor Fletcher also announced that the county would be soon identifying a “testing coordinator” to help integrate all of the different testing efforts in the county.

“The availability of widespread rapid testing is a foundational piece of any effort that must accompany any consideration of reopening our society,” he said.

There are a total of 68 new positive cases among San Diego residents for a total of 1,761 confirmed positive cases. 1,077 new tests were performed, with a total of 24,430 total tests throughout San Diego County.

Fletcher announced 443 estimated recovered cases, 396 hospitalizations, including 144 ICU patients, and a total of 45 deaths in the region.

There will be no public briefing from the county tomorrow and residents were reminded to celebrate the holiday by staying home. – KPBS Staff

Navy Says USS Theodore Roosevelt Has 550 COVID-19 Cases

– 1:58 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

The U.S. Navy on Saturday announced 103 new cases of coronavirus onboard the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, bringing the number of positive cases on the ship to 550.

“As of today, 92% of the USS Theodore Roosevelt crew members have been tested for COVID-19, with 550 positive and 3,673 negative results,” Navy officials said Saturday.

In response, 3,696 sailors have moved ashore, which includes 518 who were taken off the ship since Friday.

The Navy issued new COVID-19 guidance on Friday, saying:

“Individuals identified as having confirmed or probable COVID-19 will be placed under isolation and evacuated off the ship as soon as practical, if developing more severe symptoms.”

The Navy added that “the majority of COVID-19 patients will have mild symptoms and can remain on ship and be monitored until meeting return-to-work criteria.”

The nuclear-powered ship’s outbreak has been in the spotlight since Capt. Brett Crozier sent a memo pleading for help after dozens of people on the ship had tested positive. Crozier was fired, leading to the acting Secretary of the Navy’s eventual resignation.

In his memo, Crozier urged that about 90% of the ship’s more than 4,000 sailors be moved ashore and into quarantine, saying “decisive action is required.” – City News Service

WATCH: Governor Newsom Delivers Video Update Urging Californians To Stay Home This Weekend

– 12:25 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2020

In a recorded video message, Governor Newsom warns that going out this weekend may jeopardize the significant progress California has made in bending the curve against the spread of the coronavirus. With a message from The Rock, he urges residents to stay home despite the holiday weekend.

San Diego Mayor, Religious Leaders Urging San Diegans To Celebrate Passover, Easter From Home

– 6:10 p.m., Friday, April 10, 2020

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer gathered with local religious leaders Friday to urge San Diegans to celebrate Easter and Passover from home in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Stay-at-home orders will be strictly enforced on Easter Sunday, said Faulconer, who added that he believed the majority of San Diego faith organizations have adapted to the public health orders despite their impact on the holidays.

“Those traditions, of course, will be different this year, and they must be different to help keep everyone safe,” Faulconer said. “COVID-19 is an equal opportunity disease that is affecting people across the globe regardless of race or religion.”

Watch here:

Pastor Miles McPherson of Rock Church said at the City Hall news conference worshippers should focus on the meaning of Easter rather than the physical limitations caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Rabbi Devorah Marcus of Temple Emanu-El said her synagogue, like congregations of various faiths, has been streaming its services from an empty room featuring just the leader.

“At the beginning of this process, it definitely felt strange, but we have all found new ways to connect more deeply across all of the electronic media and to feel closer than ever,” Marcus said.

Marcus said her congregation was referring to the current times as “sacred distancing” rather than social distancing, “which implies loneliness and isolation.”

Preparations for online religious services come as several churches across the nation contend their local public health orders restricting religious public gatherings are unconstitutional.

On Friday, the Campo-based Abiding Place Ministries was denied a motion for a temporary restraining order against San Diego County’s public health order in order to hold an Easter Sunday service.

The county advised church leaders they could stream their Easter service online, but said church members must stay at home.

The Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi in the San Joaquin Valley has drawn national attention for not heeding directives against public gatherings.

The church’s landlord recently changed the building’s locks, unbeknownst to its pastor, Jon Duncan, who said in a televised interview that, “We don’t believe a virus cancels the First Amendment.” — City News Service

County Officials Remind San Diegans To Maintain Social Distancing During Easter, Passover

– 3:41 p.m., Friday, April 10, 2020

Four more San Diegans have died from the novel coronavirus and an additional 65 have tested positive as county officials on Friday urged residents to refrain from gatherings over the holiday weekend.

The new numbers bring the region’s total deaths to 44 and positive cases up to 1,693.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher discouraged public gatherings but said celebrations can be enjoyed with the people you live with and asked residents to communicate with those who don’t have the same opportunity.

“If you’re blessed and fortunate to have a household unit that you can physically be around you should enjoy and appreciate it but it’s a good weekend to reach out to someone,” Fletcher said.

The county earlier this week banned people from collecting in public groups of any size and encouraged them to turn online to stream religious services.

Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director of epidemiology and immunizations services, acknowledged that San Diegans have made sacrifices over the last several weeks — from job losses and school closures to missing opportunities to visit loved ones in medical facilities.

But he said the impact is significant.

“What it really means is saving lives,” McDonald said. “So for those who have made those sacrifices, we thank you and want to let you know it directly affects other people’s lives and wellbeing, so thank you.”

Officials also said on Friday an estimated 373 patients have recovered from the virus. That’s an increase from 201 earlier this week. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Gov. Newsom Defends Efforts To Support Nursing Homes With COVID-19 Infections

– 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 10, 2020

Photo caption:

Gov. Gavin Newsom began his daily press briefing Friday with some numbers on COVID-19 in nursing homes and other group facilities serving the older Californians.

  • Of 1,224 nursing homes, 191 have reported infections, for a total of 1,266 sick residents/staff
  • Of 7,461 licensed group homes, 94 have reported infections, involving 370 sick patients/staff.

“You may say that sounds relatively modest. But that doesn’t give you the entire picture,” said the Governor.

Referencing recent headlines from around the state, he insisted that supporting nursing homes is “part of the overall strategy” for state officials.

“We’ve put out new specific guidelines and strategies,” he said, referring to a March 3 list of recommendations from California public health officials that includes basic ideas such as designating staff who will be responsible for caring for suspected or known COVID-19 patients, and ensuring that they are trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment.

Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services agency, added the state is committed to providing PPE to health care staff in the facilities. In addition, Governor Newsom said the state has “SWAT teams” of “trained nurses” who will now be redirected from regulatory duties to “saturate those areas of concern and focus” with more site visits.

He did not offer much detail beyond that, other than suggesting those nurses would help local facilities “identify, isolate, quarantine, trace and track” COVID-19 cases.

Noting that many nursing homes have established relationships with local hospitals, Newsom said he is not recommending homes send COVID-19 positive cases to those hospitals, but to other facilities, the state has identified, including the USNS Mercy, the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship that is currently docked in the Port of Los Angeles.

Finally, Newsom said that the state is also working with FEMA to support daily meal delivery to home-bound elderly Californians, utilizing the help of local restaurants.

“Meals on Wheels alone can’t do what is required to protect our seniors,” he said. “We have well over 1 million people isolated at home.” — Rachael Myrow, KQED

5 Scripps Health Hospital Campuses Now Equipped With Rapid COVID-19 Tests

– 8:08 a.m., Friday, April 10, 2020

Five Scripps Health hospital campuses in San Diego County are now equipped with a point-of-care test that can detect coronavirus in as little as five minutes.

The test, which will be used to screen for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients requiring quick diagnostic turnaround, can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes, a hospital statement said Thursday. The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27. – City News Service

San Diego Manufacturing PPE With 3D Printers At Downtown Library

The city of San Diego showcased an initiative Thursday to manufacture personal protective equipment via 3D printers at the San Diego Central Library, which city leaders hope will help address widespread shortages of protective equipment for local medical workers.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said a dozen of the downtown library’s 3D printers are being used to print face shields for local hospitals.

The printers can collectively produce about 50 face shields per day at a time when they are at a premium.

While the library remains closed to the public per local public health orders, its infrastructure is being utilized as part of Faulconer’s order issued last week making all city properties available for COVID-19-related uses.

“Our community cannot afford to have our medical staff compromised,” Faulconer said. “These face shields are very important. They provide an additional barrier to keep medical staff safe while they are on the front lines.”

Faulconer said each shield takes about two hours to print from materials that cost about $2.50. The San Diego Public Library Foundation, which is funding the project, has also committed to purchasing an additional three printers to increase production.

Hospitals and other healthcare providers will receive the shields free of charge, Faulconer said.

Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder said these kinds of face shields are “almost impossible to get right now” due to a variety of factors, including a lack of raw materials needed to produce them. In addition, the shields are not conducive for re-use due to a concern of spreading COVID- 19, meaning “most of them can be used once and have to be thrown out.”

The mayor said the concept was born out of a “unique partnership” between local schools, healthcare organizations and libraries, which started when Francis Parker science teacher Denver Guess reached out to a former student’s parent, who worked for Scripps.

“A lot of San Diegans have come together to make this a reality,” Faulconer said. “This partnership is going to save lives, truly.” — City News Service

Bank, Transportation Employees Ordered To Cover Faces While On The Job

– 3:39 p.m. Thursday, April 9, 2020

More essential workers in San Diego County are required to wear cloth face coverings. Officials announced on Thursday that bank and public transportation employees must adhere to the order beginning Monday.

The amendment comes as four additional people died, bringing the total fatalities to 40, and an additional 98 people tested positive for the coronavirus. The countywide tally now stands at 1,628 cases.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher acknowledged the increase was the largest jump in five days, but again warned against making interpretations. ‘

“(It) is not anymore a cause for alarm than a lower total from a couple of days ago is cause for relief,” Fletcher said.

Officials also launched a new data dashboard that shows current and past information about coronavirus in San Diego. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

San Diego Business Survey Shows Layoffs Still to Come

– 3:24 p.m., April 9, 2020

Despite the unprecedented downsizing of the last few weeks, a majority of layoffs are yet to come, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation announced Thursday.

In a three-week survey of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic slowdowns released Thursday, the survey indicated that while there a few local companies still hiring, the worst is still to come. Of 681 respondents, 379 employers plan to eliminate 14,524 jobs, approximately 68% of their total workforce.

The ZIP code with the largest loss of employment, perhaps unsurprisingly, is 92101, which encompasses downtown San Diego. That area is looking at 7,162 lost jobs and an average revenue decline of 60%.

The survey, developed in partnership with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center, the Downtown San Diego Partnership and National City Chamber of Commerce, will remain open for the foreseeable future.

A San Diego Regional EDC statement said the organization wanted to chart how businesses were feeling going forward, even into an eventually economic recovery.

The survey found that small businesses are more likely to embrace remote work, with 85% of those respondents using remote workers being small businesses. Overall, 42% of employers surveyed are having employees work remotely.

Despite the bleak picture, some companies are still hiring. According to the survey, more than 11% of firms are still planning to fill positions. Nearly 19% of those firms still hiring are in the professional service industry.

Information and communication technologies, healthcare, defense and “other,” make up another 43% of hiring respondents. – City News Service

Oceanside’s Left Coast Donates 3,000 N-95 Masks to City’s First Responders

– 3:22 p.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

Oceanside’s Left Coast Extracts announced Thursday that the company has donated 3,000 N-95 masks to the city’s first responders, including paramedics, firefighters, hospital staff and police officers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment across the nation prompted its donation, along with the number of COVID-19 cases rising in Oceanside.

The city has seen two to three confirmed cases each day since March 28, with 34 cases in the city overall as of Wednesday.

“We wanted to give back to our community by using the resources we have,” said Left Coast representative Alex Kometas. “We know that there has been a strain on systems that supply important medical supplies. We had a resource and we saw a way to help.”

The masks were acquired with the help of a manufacturer Left Coast works with for the packaging of its products.

Kometas said the company is also planning to make a donation to the city of Los Angeles, where masks were recently mandated for workers in essential businesses. – City News Service

California Will Put Caregivers Into Hotels to Ease Infection Rate

– 1:20 p.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan on Thursday to make thousands of hotel rooms available at a “deep discount” to employees in California hospitals and those working at nursing care facilities, as well as first responders.

The state has contracted with 150 of its “nicest hotels” to open rooms to “our heroes, our caregivers so that they can be there to focus on the needs of our most vulnerable patients,” Newsom said.

His announcement came against the backdrop of new data from the California Department of Public Health on Thursday, which showed a significant number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among California health care workers: 1,651 out of 16,957, or roughly 10%.

The new measures will help medical workers and caregivers avoid exposing their families to the virus, and will also help shorten long commutes to work, Newsom said. Eligible caregivers will receive vouchers and stipends toward their hotel room, and low-income workers will not have to pay at all.

Newsom emphasized that the new health care workers lodging program, which is located at Caltravelstore.com, would not compete with resources devoted to Project Roomkey, a recently-announced program to move as many as 15,000 homeless Californians into hotel rooms to fend off COVID-19 transmission. Newsom said on Thursday that Project Roomkey had secured 8,072 hotel rooms for homeless Californians and that close to 2,000 people had moved into them so far.

Newsom did not say how much the health worker hotel program will cost, but he said that FEMA would reimburse the state for a portion of the cost.

Eventually, he said, he hopes to open additional rooms to California grocery workers and logistics workers, such as warehouse and transportation workers. — Julia Scott, KQED

Scripps Health Launches Five-Minute COVID-19 Test

– 10:45 a.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

Scripps Health Thursday announced the launch of the fastest available point-of-care test for detecting the coronavirus at its five hospital campuses in San Diego County.

The test, which will be used to screen for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients requiring quick diagnostic turnaround, can deliver a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes, a hospital statement said. The diagnostic tool received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on March 27.

“Testing is a critical part of the overall response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health. “Today, Scripps moves that important tool to the front line of our fight against this devastating disease. The ability to deliver results in minutes at our hospitals for patients exhibiting possible symptoms of COVID-19 will allow our physicians to make faster and better decisions about delivering the best care needed.”

The assay runs on Abbott’s ID NOW infectious-disease-testing platform, a 6.6-pound, toaster-sized portable device that uses molecular technology to deliver reliable and accurate results.

For COVID-19, the platform looks for the novel coronavirus RdRp gene in throat, nasal, nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs taken from patients who might be infected.

The ID NOW system joins several other platforms already in use at Scripps laboratories for in-house testing for COVID-19, as well as outside testing capacity provided through Quest Diagnostics. – City News Service

San Diego County Asian Pacific Islander Orgs Issue Statement Against COVID-19 Hate

– 9:41 a.m., Thursday, April 9, 2020

More than 50 Asian Pacific Islander organizations in San Diego County released a joint statement Thursday denouncing xenophobia, racism and acts of violence toward Asian and Pacific Islander communities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The organizations called upon the county community to avoid the use of harmful language relating to COVID-19, including labels such as “China coronavirus,” “Chinese coronavirus” and “Wuhan Virus.”

“Use of such language has led to an alarming increase in consequences ranging from unintended microagressions to acts of violence and hate towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” the organizations’ joint statement says. “We urge elected officials and community leaders to lead by example by publicly condemning and standing against xenophobia and racism.”

Asians make up 16.74% of the county’s population, according to Word Population Review statistics cited by the groups.

“Let’s be very clear: neither race nor ethnicity caused the coronavirus — and the hate we are seeing towards the API community is not only wrong but it’s dangerous,” Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, said in a statement. “Defeating this disease demands that we come together as a people and show our strength and resilience. There is no room for any hate at any level.”

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate said in February that there are 30,000 Asian/Pacific Islander-owned businesses in San Diego County alone and that scares about the respiratory illness have slowed trade.

The organizations urge anyone who has experienced or witnessed an act of hate as a result of COVID-19 to report it at pacarts.org/StopAPIHate. – City News Service

USNS Mercy Crew Member Tests Positive For Coronavirus

– 8:15 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A crew member aboard the USNS Mercy hospital ship has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Navy.

The crew member is currently isolated aboard the ship and will soon transfer off the ship to self-monitor for severe symptoms, Navy Public Affairs Officer Lt. Joseph Pfaff said in an email statement.

“The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board,” he said.

The Mercy was deployed from San Diego to Los Angeles at the end of March to help care for non-COVID-19 patients to relieve some pressure on the local hospital system. L.A. has one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus cases in California.

The sick crew member will not affect the Mercy’s ability to receive patients, Pfaff said. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

Mayor Faulconer, County Commit $25M For Behavioral Health Services

– 5:48 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A $25 million fund for San Diego area behavioral health providers to bolster their services for those struggling with mental illness or addiction was outlined Wednesday by city and county elected officials.

The Behavioral Health Impact Fund will provide funds to local service providers “to treat, stabilize and house” individuals experiencing mental illness and substance abuse issues, by helping behavioral health organizations acquire properties to expand their service capacity, according to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Faulconer, who was joined at a Wednesday news conference by county Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher, said the fund “was in the works well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and now it will go into effect when the need is greater than it’s ever been before.”

Faulconer said the fund would address the city and county’s efforts to combat homelessness at the same time local governments are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as the homeless are among the “most vulnerable to this virus.”

The fund will support service providers’ efforts to “buy, expand or renovate a facility to increase their capacity to serve these individuals,” according to Faulconer.

Fletcher said motels are one example of properties that could be purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic and converted into facilities for these organizations.

The fund is financed by a settlement of redevelopment litigation and was approved by a unanimous Tuesday vote by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, as well as a San Diego City Council vote in March.

Details on how organizations can apply for funds will be released later. Potential projects must be approved by both a city and a county representative.

“The cost of building these types of facilities can be beyond the means of most nonprofits,” Cox said. “Now this fund will play an important and critical role in helping this region cope with and recover from the corona crisis.” — City News Service

County Announces Five More Deaths; Urges San Diegans To Gather Virtually For Religious Holidays

– 5:05 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Five more residents have died and an additional 76 have tested positive for the virus in San Diego County. That puts the region’s total deaths at 36 and confirmed cases at 1,530, officials said Wednesday.

County health representatives extended their condolences to the families of the individuals who have died from COVID-19.

They also announced an amendment to the public health order that bans all public gatherings. Previously, the order blocked people from collecting in groups of 10 or more.

Supervisor Greg Cox acknowledged the limitations would be difficult for faith-based communities to celebrate the upcoming holidays of Passover and Easter, but he encouraged them to engage in the virtual services offered by many places of worship.

“Keep the faith, but please keep it online,” Cox said.

Passover begins Wednesday evening while Easter is Sunday. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Governor Newsom Asks For $1.4 Billion To Buy Personal Protective Equipment

– 2:05 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Saying, “We need to go boldly. We need to not play small ball,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday he will be asking state legislators to spend up to $1.4 billion to secure a monthly supply of personal protective equipment to protect California healthcare workers and other essential personnel on the COVID-19 front lines.

“California is in a position to leverage the supply chain,” he said, referencing the fact many state and local governments have found themselves in competition with each other and even with the federal government in trying to stockpile and distribute critical materials.

Newsom referred to this sort of competition as a “zero-sum game,” adding he wants to advance a “framework of collaboration and help “increase supply.”

On Tuesday night, Newsom announced that he had secured contracts to import an ongoing supply of 200 million masks per month.

But face masks can also be reused, thanks to technology from Battelle, a Columbus, Ohio-based company, which has received FDA approval to use its method to sterilize N95 face masks at scale. Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, highlighted this crucial innovation and said their machines will soon be used in California.

Newsom declined several opportunities to criticize the Trump Administration’s performance in getting and sharing critical supplies, but he did express exasperation about what he described as “one-off” offers from all sorts of entities. “I got 500,000 masks. I got 2 million masks…” He added, “We were running into walls. We’re in a position to do something bold and big.”

Along those lines, he encouraged suppliers to continue reaching out through the state government’s COVID-19 website.

You can watch the Governor’s full press conference by clicking below.

— Rachael Myrow, KQED

SDGE Encourages Customers Affected By Coronavirus To Apply For Online Utility Bill Discounts

– 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2020

San Diego Gas & Electric on Wednesday encouraged customers facing financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic to apply online for bill discount programs.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing financial strain for many individuals and families in the region, SDG&E’s discounts can save them 30% or more off their monthly utility bills.

The utility offers bill discount programs to support customers year-round. Many people who previously could not take advantage of these income-based programs may now be able to do so due to lost wages, the company said. Those who recently lost their job, even if they are receiving unemployment benefits, may also be eligible for other programs.

California Alternate Rates for Energy provides a 30% or more discount on monthly bills. Qualification is based on participation in certain public assistance programs or household income as of Wednesday. No additional documents are required to apply.

A customer who doesn’t qualify for that alternate rates program may qualify for Family Electric Rate Assistance, which provides income-qualified households of three or more with a reduced electric rate (18% discount) on their monthly bill.

In order to raise awareness of those programs, SDG&E launched a marketing and public outreach campaign, which will also promote the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The low-income program is federally funded and helps low-income households with their energy bills. The program is overseen by the California Department of Community Services and Development and administered by nonprofit agencies that have funding available to help residents with up to $1,000 on their energy bills. Additional funding is also expected with the recent passage of the federal economic stimulus package.

In mid-March, in response to the pandemic, SDG&E voluntarily began to suspend service disconnections due to nonpayment. The disconnection moratorium will remain in place until further notice, according to the utility. At the same time, the company is urging customers who are struggling to pay their utility bills to call the customer contact center at (800) 411-7343 to make payment arrangements.

The company is temporarily waiving late payment fees for business customers whose finances have been impacted by the coronavirus. The company does not charge residential customers late payment fees. — City News Service

San Diego Seals, National Lacrosse League Cancel Remainder Of Regular Season

– 10 a.m, Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The National Lacrosse League and its local team, the San Diego Seals, announced Wednesday the remainder of the regular season will be canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

League officials said they were looking at scenarios to return to play when all stakeholders and health officials deem it possible. There was no timeline given on when decisions will be made. The league suspended regular season play on March 12 due to COVID-19.

“With three weekends left in the regular season and the uncertainty about resumption during that time, we decided it is in the best interests of our players, coaches, staff, partners and fans to remove any uncertainty. Our goal is to find the best, and safest, solution for resumption of play, but what that looks like, and when that occurs, cannot be determined today,” said League Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz.

“Our primary focus is the long-term health of all involved in the sport of lacrosse from a personal and a business standpoint, and we are consulting with our board, medical and municipal authorities, as well as leadership in other organizations across sports and entertainment, to determine when we will be able to effectively move forward. Whenever that is, we have plans in place that continue to evolve, and we will be ready to restart the process correctly and effectively.” – City News Service

San Diego Mayor Faulconer Announces Funding For Homeless Operations At Convention Center

– 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020

As hundreds of unsheltered San Diegans were moving into the San Diego Convention Center Tuesday, the City Council approved a $3.7 million state emergency funding grant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population.

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez collaborated with the council to secure the grant, which will add to approximately $1.6 million in state-backed emergency funds from San Diego County and $1.7 million from the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for the same purpose.

This grows the total additional resources directed to “Operation Shelter to Home” at the San Diego Convention Center to $7.1 million, which has partnered with the city to temporarily repurpose the center as a regional homeless shelter.

“The convention center has undergone a remarkable transformation in just a few days, becoming an extraordinary symbol of San Diego rising to this occasion and using every resource at our disposal to fight COVID-19,” Faulconer said.

Before Wednesday morning, more than 800 people experiencing homelessness will have moved into the center, which was empty just 10 days ago. More than 200 individuals from Father Joe’s Villages Paul Mirabile Center and scores more from the temporary shelter on the ground floor of Golden Hall began transitioning to the tourist destination Tuesday, freeing up space at the Mirabile shelter on Imperial Avenue.

According to the city’s own figures, it would pay $1.2 million per month for the 829 individuals currently in the center, but was shooting for a goal of 1,500 individuals and a monthly bill of $2.8 million, or $1,866 per person per month.

Those with chronic health conditions will be placed at the nearly vacated Father Joe’s Paul Mirabile Center where medical support staff can assist them. These moves help centralize services, a statement from Faulconer’s office said, and can maximize staffing. With more space than current shelter facilities, the convention center allows for physical distancing between individuals.

Mayor Faulconer addressed the council before the vote to emphasize the convention center is part of a coordinated regional approach to help sheltered and unsheltered individuals remain healthy during the COVID-19 crisis. Faulconer and other public officials announced on March 23 that the center would be repurposed. – City News Service

San Diego County Records 12 New Coronavirus Deaths, Largest Single-Day Increase So Far

– 3 p.m., Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The same day San Diego County officials began reporting estimated numbers of people who have recovered from coronavirus, they also reported the greatest one-day increase in deaths.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced on Tuesday an additional 12 people died from COVID-19, bringing the total to 31.

However, Fletcher also provided new data that estimates 201 people have recovered from the illness.

The county also reported an additional 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the region’s total up to 1,454.

Officials have previously said there may be a lag in the time it takes for the department to be notified of a death or confirm a fatality was due to a specific infectious disease. That delay can mean deaths that may have occurred over several days are publicly reported in one day. — Tarryn Mento, KPBS health reporter

Newsom Says Curve Appears To Be Flattening in California

– Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The coronavirus curve — a metric public health officials use to monitor the spread and anticipate the peak number of cases — appears to be flattening in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

A very steep upward slope to that curve would indicate a potentially catastrophic spike in cases that would threaten to far outstrip the capacity of the health care system. A flatter curve means cases would be spread out and thus, more manageable.

“That curve continues to rise but just not at the slope that was originally projected,” Newsom said in his daily briefing, citing social and physical distancing as the cause for the reduction in anticipated COVID-19 cases.

The number of confirmed positive cases climbed nearly 11% over Monday’s number to 15,865, Newsom said. Hospitalizations rose 4.1% to 2,611 and ICU cases increased 2.1% to 1,108. Thirty-one more California residents died from the virus, bringing the death toll to 374.

“Our thinking around [a peak in] May, and late May in particular, means it follows this idea of flattening,” said Mark Ghaly, director of the state’s Health and Human Services Agency, “It’s not just the reduction down, it’s moving it out.” — Erin Baldassari, KQED

MiraCosta College Plans to Create Face Shields, Other Equipment for Hospitals

– 11:46 a.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020

MiraCosta College could soon be manufacturing thousands of face masks, hundreds of face shields, and scores of decontamination boxes as part of a statewide effort to ramp up production of personal protective equipment in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it announced today.

Instructors at MiraCosta College’s Technology Career Institute in Carlsbad — using the institute’s machine and engineering shops and 3D printers — have already developed prototypes and are ordering parts for hospital face shields.

Officials hope to begin manufacturing up to 100 face shields daily by the end of the week, said Linda Kurokawa, MiraCosta’s director of community education and workforce development at the college.

Prototypes of decontamination boxes that will use UV lights and sensors to disinfect various medical equipment should be completed by early next week. In addition, students in a sewing and upholstery class are being recruited to stitch up to 1,000 face masks per week using elastic bands and fabric Kurokawa purchased from a local crafts store.

“It’s going to take everyone in California to step up and do their part, and that includes us,” Kurokawa said. “It feels wonderful to be part of a community that is doing what it can to save lives.”

Face masks and face shields will be sent to Rady Children’s Hospital for distribution. The decontamination boxes will be sent to hospitals and medical centers throughout the region.

“As soon as we can get our protocols, logistics, and approvals in place, we plan on moving forward,” Kurokawa said.

The Technology Career Institute is part of the college’s community education and workforce development department and is designed to provide not- for-profit, accelerated job training in advanced manufacturing, engineering, health care, security and more.

The MiraCosta College Maker Lab at the Oceanside campus — part of the college’s design department — is equipped with seven 3D printers, and Instructional Associate Chris Boehm last week developed prototypes for a face mask, face shield and a vent splitter — which can essentially allow a single ventilator to be used for two separate patients at the same time.

As soon as he gets the go-ahead, Boehm said he plans on fabricating a number of pieces of personal protective equipment for use at local hospitals and medical centers.

“We certainly wouldn’t be able to mass produce anything, but if we could use the maker lab to make even 100 face shields or 250 vent splitters, that would be enough to perhaps save more than a few lives,” Boehm said. “I’m just so grateful MiraCosta College has an opportunity to have a positive impact on our community and it really underscores what a community college is all about.” – City News Service

Coronavirus Relief Proposals On Next Poway City Council Agenda

– 9:54 a.m., April 7, 2020

The City Council Tuesday will consider two relief efforts, including a moratorium on commercial evictions, to help those affected by the coronavirus.

In an official memorandum, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus proposed that the city suspend commercial evictions until May 31. “It is important to note the federal and state government have issued increased protections for landlords that do not make mortgage payments, suspending foreclosure and eviction proceedings by most financial institutions,” the memo read.

If passed, the urgency ordinance will protect commercial tenants from being evicted for nonpayment of rent if they can “demonstrate that they have suffered one or more financial impacts related to COVID-19,” according to a document. The proposed ordinance “is not a moratorium on the payment of rent, and tenants who qualify “shall remain responsible for (the) ultimate payment of rent,” according to city documents.

Council members on Tuesday will also consider a loan program, titled Poway Emergency Assistance Recovery Loans (PEARL). Vaus, in a second memorandum, proposed creating the program to help small businesses get back on their feet. PEARL would complement existing federal and state programs, and “provide a financial bridge to businesses to survive the current emergency.”

In the memo, Vaus requested the council’s input and direction on a loan program, including the types of businesses that qualify, loan amounts and terms, and a funding source. Both the San Diego city and county governments recently passed moratoriums on evictions for residents and business owners.

On March 16, the county — in partnership with the San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego and other major regional players — also launched the San Diego COVID-19 Community Fund and asked the public to donate.

The $1.3 million fund focuses on three key areas impacting San Diegans: food insecurity, rental and utility assistance and income replacement – – also known as gap funding.

During its March 25 emergency meeting, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar small business relief fund proposed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

On March 24, the San Marcos City Council approved the COVID-19 Business Sustainability Program that sets aside up to $3 million for short-term business loans.

The Poway City Council will meet via teleconference starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. More information on how to participate in the meeting can be found online. – City News Service

Essential Businesses In SD County Must Post COVID-19 Guidelines Near Entrances

– 7:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Authorities Tuesday will begin citing essential businesses that have not complied with the requirement to post social-distancing and sanitization guidelines near the entrance of their businesses.

All employees of grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants open for to-go orders, fast-food eateries, convenience stores and gas stations must also wear a facial covering at all times as part of a county health order that went into effect at midnight on Saturday.

Although the county is not mandating that residents wear face coverings, essential businesses can deny entry to customers whose faces are not covered, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Monday.

“If an individual business chooses to say that you need to have a face covering to come into their business, that is a determination that those businesses can make,” he said. – City News Service

San Diego Mayor Calls On Med Students, Retired Health Care Workers To Register With State For Expected COVID-19 Surge

– 5:25 p.m., Monday, April 6, 2020

Following in the state’s footsteps, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Monday called for health care professionals to come forward to help in the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

He is asking for all medical residents, nursing students, retired health care workers or those who have switched professions to sign up for California’s Health Corps.

“San Diego City is known for its expertise in science and health care and medicine,” he said. Now is the time for San Diego to step up, he said.

Health professionals can sign up at sandiego.gov/coronavirus.

WATCH HERE:

The city has also worked with Verizon Wireless to ensure the data-service infrastructure will be able to handle the strain for emergency response, he said. With so many working from home as well as a surge in telehealth calls, it was important to ensure that cellular service remains reliable for emergency calls, he said.

On the issue of homelessness, the mayor said because of the coronavirus, the city had to change its approach.

“There is not enough room, staff under the current model,” he said. That’s why the Convention Center was needed. Around 180 veterans have been moved to the Convention Center and in the coming days, around 200 people from Father Joe’s Villages will be moved there as well.

The city is also looking to increase the capacity at the Convention Center to bring in unsheltered individuals there. — Alexander Nguyen, web producer

San Diego Lab Will Begin Testing Its Coronavirus Vaccine In Humans

– 5:10 p.m, Monday, April 6, 2020

A coronavirus vaccine developed in San Diego will undergo human testing this week, the company announced online.

A news release from Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a Pennsylvania-based company with a local Sorrento Valley lab, said it planned to inject the first of up to 40 volunteers on Monday. Doses will be administered to volunteers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Center for Pharmaceutical Research in Kansas City, Mo., where volunteers are still being selected.

Volunteers will receive two doses with the second injection four weeks after the first. The company expects results by late summer.

The biotech firm’s earlier animal testing showed “promising immune response,” the announcement said.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals began developing its DNA vaccine, known as INO-4800, in January. It initially intended to begin human trials by summer but upped that deadline to this month. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

MTS Announces Reduced Bus, Trolley Service In Wake of COVID-19 Rider Declines

– 3:45 p.m, Monday, April 6, 2020

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System announced Monday it will be reducing bus and trolley service effective next week in the wake of COVID-19 related ridership declines. The agency will not cut any service routes, but rather some routes will see a reduction in service.

Effective April 13, about 70% of bus routes will be operating at reduced frequencies, according to MTS officials. Trolley lines will operate at nearly normal schedules, though the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley will revert to mid-January service levels.

The reductions will account for a 25% reduction in weekday service overall.

More than three dozen bus routes will be unaffected by the new schedules, which will be posted online at www.sdmts.com and at all MTS bus and trolley stations later this week.

Route proximity to grocery stores, hospitals and other essential areas were taken into account when determining which routes to maintain and which to reduce service to, according to MTS officials. — City News Service

San Diego County Records 78 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

– 3:30 p.m., Monday April 6, 2020

San Diego County officials on Monday announced 78 new COVID cases, increasing the region’s total to 1,404, but no new deaths.

Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the county’s epidemiology and immunization services branch, said the public should not read too much into the lower numbers, specifically fatalities.

“The fact that that number has not gone up in a couple of days should not indicate anything particular,” McDonald said.

He said there may have been additional reports of deaths but the department waits on laboratory reports to confirm, which can cause delays.

Officials also clarified details regarding the county’s public health order that mandates essential workers wear face coverings. A reporter asked whether businesses or employees were responsible for providing the gear.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said employers can either provide it or allow employees to wear their own, but they must make sure all adhere to the county’s public health order.

“It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure compliance with that order,” he said.

Meanwhile, the public is strongly recommended to wear coverings but not required. Still, Fletcher said businesses can turn people away for not concealing their faces. – Tarryn Mento, KPBS Health Reporter

Gov: New ‘Antibody’ Tests a Critical Step, Min. Wage Hike Is Wait-And-See

– 1:46 p.m., Monday, April 6, 2020

Work on a new coronavirus antibody test from Stanford University is “fundamental” and “foundational” to getting Californians back to work, Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday.

Standing inside the Sleep Train Arena, the former home of the Sacramento Kings basketball team that will double as a temporary medical facility, Newsom laid out plans to distribute 500 ventilators to the national stockpile to assist other states, even as California seeks to procure more, and hinted that an expected minimum-wage increase in January could be on hold.

Researchers at Stanford are working on the state’s first “homegrown serum” or serology test that will determine whether people have immunity to COVID-19, Newsom said.

“This is a deep area of focused concentration,” he said, adding that it will be critical to test people who are asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus, in order to better understand the disease.

Over the weekend, Newsom announced that the test was expected to be FDA-approved and rolled out this week. On Monday, he said he didn’t know whether approval had come yet.

“I believe it’s on track,” he said.

Testing is necessary to get people back into the workforce, Newsom said, and his team is already working on an economic recovery plan. Asked whether an increase in the minimum wage would happen as planned, Newsom said, “That’s January, and we’ll make a determination in real time.”

The state is sending 500 ventilators to the national stockpile because it had substantially more ventilators in its inventory than it expected at the time, though Newsom said the state would continue to procure and refurbish more. California has more than 11,00 ventilators on hand.

“We have a moral and ethical responsibility of sending them to those most in need,” he said.

The state has secured 4,613 hospital beds from added capacity at its existing hospitals or in new locations, such as reopening shuttered hospitals, leasing hotel rooms, federally supported medical stations, the opening of the USS Mercy hospital ship, which is docked in Southern California, and alternative sites like the Kings’ former arena, Newsom said. It has another 5,005 beds that have been identified and are in lease negotiations.

The beds will be needed to handle the expected peak of coronavirus cases in mid-May. Nearly 82,000 healthcare professionals have applied to staff those sites through the state’s new Health Corps website, Newsom said.

As of Monday morning, there were 14,336 positive COVID-19 cases reported in California, 1,185 people in the ICU, 2,509 hospitalizations, and 343 people who have died from the virus. — Erin Baldassari, KQED

San Diego Police Ticket 16 People Over Weekend For Visiting Parks And Beaches

– 12:26 p.m., April 6, 2020

San Diego police over the weekend wrote 16 citations to people who were still showing up to closed parks and beaches. On March 23, the city closed all of its parks and beaches as part of the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

During the weekend, police ticketed five people in Balboa Park and 11 in Ocean Beach, said San Diego police spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi. The Ocean Beach citations were written along Sunset Cliffs, the Ocean Beach Dog Park and Robb Field Skate Park.

Police officers are educating people first before writing citations, but if it’s clear someone knew they were breaking the rules, a citation can be written, Takeuchi said. He said he didn’t know what people were specifically doing when they were ticketed.

The citations are misdemeanors punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in prison, Takeuchi said. Each citation includes a court date. Between now and that date, the San Diego City Attorney will decide whether to pursue or drop the charges. – Claire Trageser, KPBS Investigative Reporter

Governor Newsom To Provide Update On State’s Emergency Actions To Create Alternate Care Facilities In Response to COVID-19

– 12 p.m., Monday, April 6, 2020

Newsom is expected to give an update on the state’s efforts to create alternative care facilities and secure thousands of beds to prepare for the COVID-19 surge.

WATCH LIVE:

California Court Leaders Consider Cutting Bail To $0

– 7:19 p.m., April 5, 2020

California judicial leaders are expected to adopt a statewide emergency order setting bail at zero for lower-level offenses and suspending evictions and foreclosures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis that has crippled the state’s court system.

The Judicial Council was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to vote on nearly a dozen temporary rules, including a proposal to hold criminal and juvenile proceedings by video or telephone in order to ensure that defendants are not held in custody without timely hearings.

RELATED: Judges Deny California Inmate Release Request, Cite US Law

In criminal proceedings, the defendant must agree before a court hearing can be held remotely.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, trial courts must protect defendants’ constitutional rights to have the assistance of counsel and to be personally present with counsel, and at the same time take steps to protect the health of defendants, judicial officers, court staff, counsel, and all those who are required to be present in court,” a report prepared for the meeting said.

The report said courts have been operating with a greatly reduced work force since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order on March 20 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The proposal to lower bail at $0 for misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses is intended to reduce the jail population and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

– Associated Press

California Labor Secretary Goes Facebook-Live with Unemployment Insurance Update

– 6:15 p.m., April 5, 2020

California Labor Secretary Julie Su on Sunday delivered an update on unemployment insurance and worker safety guidelines in the age of COVID-19.

Unemployment insurance processing normally takes about three weeks, Su said, meaning that workers who file for unemployment should expect to wait three weeks to receive funds. So far, the California Employment Development Department has been sticking fairly closely to that timeline, she said. The department is trying to expedite payment processing by waiving certain looking-for-work requirements and redirecting staff to process unemployment insurance applications.

Record numbers of unemployment claims — 6.6 million in the most recent week reported — have sent servers crashing in states across the U.S. Reports that the California’s unemployment claims website has crashed are not true, Su said, though she noted the site occasionally goes down for routine maintenance.

“I know it can be frustrating, and we are working very hard,” she said.

Su also clarified that people who believe they’ve been misclassified as independent contractors — rather than employees — can, and should, file for unemployment insurance. If the department determines an individual was misclassified as a contractor, that individual will receive unemployment insurance, she promised.

For true independent contractors and self-employed Californians, a separate benefit, called “pandemic unemployment assistance,” may soon become available, Su said. The department is “working to implement this program,” but still awaiting funds from the federal government for this benefit.

Su delivered an update on the federal stimulus, which she said will provide an additional $600 a week for up to four weeks (Su may have misspoken here; the benefits are federally guaranteed for four months) in unemployment benefits to Californians. Those funds are not yet available, she said, but they will be added to existing state benefit payments. Californians don’t have to “do anything else” to receive those funds.

She also announced the state had begun issuing, or would soon issue, health and safety guidelines for various essential industries, including agricultural workers, grocery workers and skilled nursing facilities. She encouraged workers and others to report businesses not in compliance with health and safety guidelines to Cal/OSHA.

For more details on filing for unemployment and how the process is evolving, visit labor.ca.gov or watch Su’s video update here.

– Susie Neilson (@SusieNeilson), KQED

San Diego County Health Officials Report 117 New Coronavirus Case, 1 Death

– 3:45 p.m., April 5, 2020

County officials on Sunday reported 117 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death.

The increase brings the total of confirmed cases in San Diego County to 1,326 and the death toll to 19, said County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten during an afternoon news conference.

The death reported Sunday was that of a woman in her late 90s.

Wooten added that officials discovered another outbreak in the county, in a congregate care facility, though she did not provide further details. Thus far, officials have identified 17 outbreaks in the county, she said.

Also during Sunday’s news conference, county officials said they would begin enforcing the order for essential workers, such as grocery store and convenience store workers, to wear facial coverings.

“The warnings are over,” said San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox. “We will enforce the order.”

Cox encouraged people who see essential workers violating the facial covering order to report the violators to 2-1-1 San Diego, the county’s emergency services information line.

On another subject, county officials encouraged those experiencing anxiety and depression in light of the coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of county mental health programs and seek out support from family and friends. – Laura McVicker, KPBS Social Media Strategist

– 2:30 p.m., April 5, 2020

Watch press conference here:

Camp Pendleton Issues Shelter In Place Guidelines

– 1:45 p.m., Sunday, April 5, 2020

Marines at Camp Pendleton have been ordered to follow California’s “shelter in place” guidelines and face severe penalties if they don’t, according to the military base’s commanding general.

Brigadier General Daniel Conley on Saturday issued the instructions to Marine Corps Installations West, which includes Camp Pendleton.

“As of March 19, the state of California instituted a `shelter in place’ order,” Conley wrote. “The order directs all individuals to remain at home or place of residence, except as needed in limited circumstances.”

The commander’s order said all personnel will curtail their off-duty activities to abide by the California orders.

“Travel while on leave or liberty is only authorized to conduct essential services such as medical needs, groceries, banking, exercise and gas stations,” the order said. “While in a leave or liberty status, and while traveling to conduct essential services, all MCIWEST

personnel shall limit travel to within a 30-mile radius of their residence.”

Marines are ordered to have a “heightened awareness regarding the spread of this infectious disease.”

“Marines and sailors are not authorized to attend social gatherings outside their home, and social contact at private residences will be limited to household members only,” the order states.

Violations of the order are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the commander said, and personnel may be subject to “appropriate administrative or judicial action.”

Conley is the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West and the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton.

While more than 38,000 military family members occupy base housing complexes, Camp Pendleton expands to a daytime population of 70,000 military and civilian personnel. – City News Service

250-Bed Field Hospital Planned For Palomar Medical Center

– 10:45 a.m., Sunday, April 5, 2020

A 250-bed federal field hospital is planned for Palomar Medical Center, San Diego County health officials announced Sunday.

The “hospital within a hospital” will be installed on the 10th and 11th floors of the Escondido facility as a fully functioning hospital and will add to the capacity of beds needed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

“The facility will be used for those in our community who need it the most,” Dr. Nick Yphantides, San Diego County’s chief medical officer, said during the announcement outside Palomar Medical Center. “It will be a community-wide resource.”

The bed capacity in the region will need to grow in the coming weeks, Yphantides said, ‘”as a storm begins to reach our region.”

The decision about whether the federal medical station will serve COVID-19 patients or other kinds of patients will be made at a later time, depending on “which patients will need it the most,” the medical officer said.

Doctors and nurses at Palomar Medical Center will staff the new medical station, officials said.

Officials said it was too early to predict the cost of staffing and supplying equipment to the medical station.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher called the added bed capacity “a positive step forward for our region.” – City News Service

Gov. Newsom Launches Website To Collect Essential Medical Supplies

– 10:30 a.m., Sunday, April 5

In an effort to get more medical supplies into the hands of hospital workers statewide amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Newsom has launched a website for people to donate and sell the supplies.

The website, covid19supplies.ca.gov, will allow residents and organizations to donate, sell or trade critical items, such as ventilators, N95 masks and testing materials.

Nationwide, hospitals have struggled with medical equipment shortages as they respond to the surge of patients with COVID-19. California is the latest state to directly ask the public for help.

Beyond the equipment shortages, California is woefully lacking in testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Newsom acknowledged this during a news conference on Saturday, saying “I own that.”

He announced the launch of a COVID-19 Testing Task Force, consisting of medical workers and testing facilities throughout the state, to boost the number of tests distributed statewide.

The task force includes a collaboration with UC San Diego and UC Davis to establish testing hubs.

— Laura McVicker, KPBS Social Media Strategist

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