San Diego Broadband’s main office in San Marcos / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
San Diego Broadband’s main office in San Marcos / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

COVID-19 forced the Trump administration to quickly change its tune when it comes to allowing telehealth, or virtual doctors visits that allow patients to skip onerous in-person visits where they might infect other patients.

Since then, such visits have soared across San Diego as members of the public are implored to stay home.

“UCSD spent the weekend after Trump’s announcement developing an online remote training through Zoom for 300 doctors and 150 schedulers to convert their in-the-flesh appointments to digital,” reports VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer. “As of March 24, UCSD saw almost 60 percent of its patients virtually.”

Though the shift has been crucial to protecting both health care workers and patients, it’s not easy for everyone to embrace and can be especially difficult for the smallest clinics.

Julian Medical Center, for example, has just one doctor and one nurse. But even it is trying.

“The clinic isn’t doing video calls regularly. Instead, they’ve been doing basic doctor consultations and prescription refills over the telephone, the regular one, you know, with the digits,” Elmer writes.

The surge in telehealth, plus schools’ transitioning to online learning, has driven home the importance of a reliable broadband connection.

The more people are being urged to stay home, the more they’re forced to perform crucial tasks like work and schooling from home.

In a new story, VOSD’s Kayla Jimenez examines the disparities in broadband internet access across the county.

“In 2016, 42.3 percent of 142,028 people who lived in the county’s rural areas had fixed internet at 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload – the FCC’s existing speed benchmark – versus 96.5 percent of the 3.1 million people who lived in the county’s urban areas, FCC data shows,” Jimenez reports. The county doesn’t currently track how many people have reliable internet.

“Federal and state data maps show rural areas like Fallbrook and Rainbow in the northern parts of the county and Julian in East County have extremely limited access to broadband internet. Major providers don’t provide service in parts of those communities, and few local internet service providers do,” Jimenez writes.

You Might Need More Than Six Feet of Space at the Beach

Residents walk along the shore of Oceanside Harbor Beach. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Been flocking to San Diego’s beaches to avoid cabin fever and to get some clean, salty air in your lungs?

Hold up, says one San Diego scientist. (She said it in more science-y terms.)

Kim Prather, a scientist who studies the chemistry of the atmosphere at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, tells MacKenzie Elmer in the latest Environment Report that she’s concerned about the potential for the virus to become airborne near the ocean.

“‘People think when you’re at the beach, all you’re breathing is salty air,” Prather told VOSD. 

“She published a study last year, though, showing that viruses with a lipid membrane — the fatty acids that don’t dissolve in water, like the source of COVID-19 — make their way from the ocean and into the air more frequently than others,” Elmer reports.

Small Business Posts Tips for Small Businesses

Modern Times Beer is among the most successful members of San Diego’s beer industry. But like everyone else in the hospitality industry, the company’s been hit hard by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the company posted a series of survival tips for other small businesses. Even if you’re not a small business owner and some of the details are a bit complex, it’s a fascinating read about the bad choices businesses are facing, and how a company with 12 locations and nearly 300 employees has managed to maneuver them without having to make any layoffs (so far).

In Other News

Correction

Monday’s Morning Report mischaracterized the city attorney’s emergency petition in its case against Instacart. It’s asking an appellate court to lift a stay of an order requiring the company to stop misclassifying its workers as contractors.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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