Vista Coronavirus
A patient gets tested for coronavirus at Vista Community Clinic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Although local hospitals and clinics have the capacity to test more, San Diego County officials are still struggling to make those tests widespread. Part of the problem is a lack of demand. 

Will Huntsberry reports that county officials plan to test everyone living in congregate care homes, such as senior living facilities, to meet the most vulnerable people where they are

“Hospitals are used to competing for patients, not operating in concert,” Huntsberry writes. “But during an official state of emergency, public health officials, like those in San Diego, have special powers to coordinate the response.”

Federal, county and state officials want to know how widespread the virus is to make decisions about how to best operate with it and allow people to move about again. Thus they want to prove that nobody’s out there who may have it they don’t know about. And you have to test to do that. But it has to be paired with contact tracing — the process by which public health agencies track and isolate patients and the people they may have infected to know for sure where the virus is headed.

But this is a long process: Initial estimates suggest that San Diego will need 500 to 1,000 contact tracers based on population. As of last week, the county had 163.

10 Years in, Balboa Park Conservancy Is Still Struggling to Gain Its Footing

A decade ago, the Balboa Park Conservancy launched with the hopes it would establish a formal relationship with the city to oversee the park, raise money for projects and emerge as the key leader many craved.

It never grew into that role. 

“Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic that is hammering park institutions and the sudden departure of its CEO, supporters are hoping the nonprofit can emerge as a leader and philanthropic force for Balboa Park,” Lisa Halverstadt writes in a new piece assessing the group’s challenges and its vision for the future.

Some park stakeholders told Halverstadt they’re optimistic about the group’s role going forward, in part because the departed CEO, Tomás Herrera-Mishler, was a divisive figure who sometimes clashed with park stakeholders and even city park and recreation officials whose support is crucial to the Conservancy’s success.

Many of them said the Conservancy expects to seek a new leader who can bring expertise on fundraising and collaboration with the city and other park stakeholders.

Climate Action Plan Update Might Be Off

San Diego’s smart streetlights program was supposed to pay for itself through energy cost savings when approved by the City Council in late 2016. It’s now substantially over budget and taking money away from other Sustainability Department projects, MacKenzie Elmer writes in the latest Environment Report.

That includes the technical consultants needed for an update to the Climate Action Plan and an annual report that shows how well the city is (and isn’t) meeting its greenhouse gas reduction goals. The mayor’s budget proposal still requires City Council approval.

Elmer also explains in the Environment Report why it’s a good thing that poisonous newts are multiplying. Seriously. 

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In Other News

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

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