Despite repeated claims that San Diego’s COVID-19 testing capacity is going up, the number of reported tests went down last week, Will Huntsberry reports.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has identified widespread testing capacity as the most important factor in bringing Californians out of lockdown. So far, only people with the worst symptoms have been tested in San Diego. But experts agree that testing asymptomatic people is the only way to start clearing people to leave their homes.
The number of tests over the previous seven days was less than either of the previous seven-day periods for San Diego County.
One county official said that hospitals are likely not testing at their full capacity and that they should begin doing so. But the county has released conflicting guidance on this point. Current official guidance tells hospitals only to test the most sick.
- Speaking of conflicting guidance, inewsource highlighted nine conflicting or false statements made by county officials during their daily briefings over the last month. Many of the conflicting statements were made by the county’s chief public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten. They covered topics from “mail germs” to nail salons and asymptomatic transmission.
Mayor Unveils Budget With Deep Cuts
Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday unveiled a budget proposal that includes reduced hours at city libraries and rec centers, major cuts to arts funding and the elimination of 354 city positions amid a stark budget reality.
The budget proposal comes in response to a projected $250 million budget hit for the rest of this fiscal year and the new one that begins in July.
The Union-Tribune reports that the mayor plans to pull $66 million from city reserves to balance the budget and to hold off on another $26 million in contributions planned for next year to help address the massive budget gap.
The mayor said during a Wednesday press conference that the team that crafted the proposed budget was focused on maintaining public safety, water, trash and homeless services.
“This budget is fully balanced and makes responsible decisions today so we can enjoy a better tomorrow,” Faulconer said.
The City Council will review Faulconer’s budget proposal in coming weeks. Then the mayor will share a revised version in May, when he expects to have a firmer grasp on the economic impact of the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The City Council must approve the final budget in June.
Parking Illegally? You Might Not Get Ticketed for Now
San Diego police are continuing to dial back parking enforcement per orders from the mayor, reports Lisa Halverstadt.
Not all parking tickets have vanished. Cops are still handing out tickets for illegal parking that creates a safety issue, said a police spokesman.
The City Council has asked the mayor to stop enforcing laws that prevent people from being able to live in their cars. Some ticketing for vehicle habitation, however, has continued.
Keeping the Homeless Out of the Shadows
Advocates in North County are worried that police enforcement is going to fall hard on the region’s homeless and that the closure of parks and beaches will drive the population further into the shadows during a public health crisis.
City officials told Kayla Jimenez that they’re trying to advise rather than cite people on the streets and living in their cars about risks posed by the novel coronavirus. Nonprofits and others have been scrambling in recent weeks to provide the homeless with food.
One service provider said he’s seeing donations like never before.
Also in North County … officials shut down a rapid COVID-19 testing site for failing to provide proof it has the necessary credentials and certifications required by state law, NBC San Diego reports. The Encinitas-based clinic was not affiliated with the county Public Health Department.
It was providing drive-thru service and promising to turn around results within a few days. It only lasted two.
Airport Getting Federal Funds
The San Diego International Airport will receive $91.2 million in federal relief funds, the Union-Tribune reports. But even with the financial support, the airport is facing a period of significant revenue decline.
The Transportation Security Administration saw a nearly 96 percent drop at checkpoints across the country, according to the U-T.
As Ashly McGlone wrote earlier this week, the airport CEO in San Diego has predicted that the lost revenue would be “six times the impact of Sept. 11.” The airport has put together a financial resilience plan that calls for a hiring freeze, delayed and reduced non-essential spending and a stop to non-critical capital projects.
For now, the hard-fought $3 billion plan to rebuild Terminal 1 is still on the list.
City News Service also reports that local congressional representatives are seeking relief assistance for zoos, aquariums and museums, including the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, which are home to a combined 6,500 animals.
In Other News
- San Diego Unified’s chief medical officer said schools are likely to reopen during the next school year, but predicted that “normality as we knew it” is another two years away. (Union-Tribune)
- Events, including the remainder of the San Diego Symphony’s season, are being canceled en masse, but Comic-Con is still holding out. (10News, NBC San Diego)
- Despite widespread economic hardship, more than 90 percent of San Diego County parcels paid the second installment of their property taxes on time. (Union-Tribune)
- Three inmates at the George F. Bailey Detention Facility were moved into “the hole” (solitary confinement) as punishment for appearing in a photograph pleading for better conditions inside county jails, according to friends and relatives. (Union-Tribune)
- A drug created by a San Diego-based biotech company is in the second round of trials. The drug could help patients avoid needing a ventilator. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry, Jesse Marx and Lisa Halverstadt and edited by Sara Libby.