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A view of the I-5 freeway near downtown San Diego during rush hour on March 5, 2020. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

One of the most ambitious goals in San Diego’s Climate Action Plan is getting San Diegans to change how they commute: The plan envisions people going from commuting by car to commuting by bike, walking or transit.

The plan doesn’t currently include a vision for getting more San Diegans to do their work from home, as thousands currently are under the threat from the coronavirus.

In a new story, VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer considers how the current stay-at-home orders could inform San Diego’s climate plans.

“Telework isn’t part of the city of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, approved in 2015, which called for half of people living close to high-frequency transit to bike, walk or take transit to work by 2035. But telework could become part of the updated plan due in 2021, said Ashley Rosia-Tremonti, the city’s sustainability manager,” Elmer reports. “Transportation accounts for 55 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted and tracked by the city of San Diego.”

Elmer also lays out the data highlighting just how much the last month has changed things in terms of traffic and air quality.

On top of traffic plummeting, “nitrogen dioxide levels decreased by about 33 percent from the year prior around an air-quality sensor adjacent to I-15 near Rancho Bernardo. A sensor just east of I-5 in Chula Vista found a 24 percent drop in nitrogen dioxide levels,” Elmer reports.

Surfers vs. Science

Two San Diego communities aren’t thrilled with each other: Surfers want to get back in the water despite scientists’ warnings that COVID-19 could spread farther at the beach.

The scientists who explained that theory to us recently has been awarded a grant to explore it further; other scientists are rushing to examine the novel coronavirus on other fronts. MacKenzie Elmer breaks down those efforts in the latest Environment Report, as well as some surfers’ desire to get back in the water, virus-spreading be damned.

There’s No Plan for Rationing Ventilators, But There Could Be Soon

Though San Diego’s curve appears to be flattening, San Diego County’s own modeling shows it’s still possible hospitals could be overwhelmed past their capacity in coming weeks or months.

If that happens, there’s currently no plan guiding which patients would get access to life-saving treatments like ventilators that are in short supply.

Officials in San Diego and across the state are rushing to create such plans, Will Huntsberry reports.

One working group involves officials from local hospitals and county health officials; the UC system is working on its own plan and a state plan is also underway. 

“Once the plans are completed, it is unclear exactly which one will take precedence in San Diego County,” Huntsberry reports.

County officials declined to say whether public input will be part of the process, as it has been in other states.

In Other News

Quote of the Day

The New York Times, in a very un-New York Times move, wrote a piece emphasizing how the West Coast has not gotten nearly enough credit for its handling of the coronavirus. The money quote: 

“‘This is a community that’s not self-obsessed and looking for recognition, adulation or credit,’ said Bill Walton, the San Diego native, former UCLA basketball great and noted Pacific evangelist.”

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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