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San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten speaks at a press conference about the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Facing a global pandemic, city and county leaders are tapping into lessons learned during San Diego’s deadly hepatitis A outbreak in 2017.

Handwashing stations have been placed in areas where homeless people congregate, hygiene kits have been distributed and county nurses are joining homeless service workers. Officials also report swifter, more seamless coordination between agencies whose cooperation is crucial in staving off the worst outcomes. 

“Having been through the health scare that we had, it’s about immediate action, and it’s about doing everything we can with our population in the bridge shelters and on the street — and the county and the city moving in the same direction from day one,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

But cracks remain as officials rush to respond, reports Lisa Halverstadt.

“Homeless San Diegans and advocates for them are reporting confusion and fear amid rising coronavirus cases and government directives, including self-isolation and social distancing, not easily followed by those without homes,” writes Halverstadt.

San Diego Passes Eviction Moratorium

Renters — both businesses and individuals or families — won’t risk losing their leases due to lost revenue or income from the coronavirus, after the City Council unanimously approved a moratorium on evictions Tuesday.

The plan, supported by Mayor Faulconer and facilitated by the state’s decision Monday to remove barriers that kept cities from enacting such moratoriums, is expected to last through May, unless the Council extends it.

But the maneuver won’t absolve renters or businesses from their financial obligations forever. And it won’t be available to anyone.

Renters need to notify their landlords ahead of when payments are due of the financial circumstances, with proper documentation, that have made them incapable of making their monthly payment. And they’ll need to make the landlord whole once the emergency is over.

City Declares State of Emergency

The San Diego City Council also ratified a state of emergency Tuesday, granting officials special powers while they continue to address the spread of the coronavirus. The declaration permits the city to authorize contracts related to emergency-services and seek reimbursement from state and federal agencies for costs.

Faulconer said he expects the declaration will have to be extended at the end of a 30-day term, which would require another ratification by the City Council.

Your Questions About the Coronavirus, Answered

We put out a request for questions to our audience about coronavirus in San Diego and were overwhelmed with responses. 

Readers wanted to know why it seems so hard to get tested, how the outbreak is affecting our economy, whether the border will shut down and much more. Our reporters Maya Srikrishnan and Lisa Halverstadt hit the ground running and compiled their answers in this helpful FAQ.

If you’d like to submit a question, you can do so using this form.

  • We’ve also updated our guide to the guidance on coronavirus in San Diego. That’s where you’ll continue to find the latest information from local officials.
  • Scott Lewis went live on Instagram Tuesday to talk with our followers and answer questions about how San Diego is responding to the spread of the virus. If you missed it, you can watch it on YouTube.
  • Lewis also wrote a new piece: The economy, he writes, is undergoing chemotherapy. The virus hitched a ride on humans through the economy and the only way to stop it from spreading is to shut down the economy. We’re sacrificing so much commerce and money on the theory that it would be much worse, much deadlier, in the long run, if we didn’t.

Hunter Sentenced to 11 Months

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in federal prison Tuesday, reports the Union-Tribune. Hunter pleaded guilty in December to a felony conspiracy charge for stealing $250,000 in campaign funds.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Whelan said Hunter has until May 29 to report to prison, acknowledging that the date could change amid the coronavirus outbreak.

  • The Union-Tribune released a new episode of The 50th, showing what the last moments of the primary battle to replace Hunter looked and felt like.

In Other News

  • San Diego County is offering curbside pickup at its libraries starting Wednesday. Residents can use the library’s online catalog or call their branch to place an order.
  • The county has launched a text message alert system for updates on the coronavirus.
  • Councilwoman Barbara Bry’s lead for the No. 2 spot in the mayoral runoff climbed to 169 votes Tuesday. It appears likely she will face Assemblyman Todd Gloria in the runoff.

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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