Cars drive down Third Avenue in Chula Vista. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy recently told residents that she had no idea the department had been sharing data from its automatic license plate readers with federal immigration authorities, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. 

Kennedy only learned about the department’s data sharing from recent reporting by the Union-Tribune, Gustavo Solis writes in a new story.

But if Kennedy was in the dark about the type of data-sharing that was possible through Vigilant Solutions, the company that provides the license plate reader technology, perhaps she shouldn’t have been.

Voice of San Diego, for example, reported in 2018 and 2019 that the company had facilitated similar data-sharing between the San Diego Police Department and federal immigration authorities.

Though the city has said it stopped sharing the data, residents still have outstanding concerns. Though the data-sharing does not appear to directly violate SB 54, a state law strictly limiting local police interactions with federal immigration authorities, activists believe it violates the spirit of the measure.

Mayor Mary Salas had previously told residents a report on what happened would be shared this month. 

“But during the Jan. 5 City Council meeting, the mayor said she’d rather wait to hold a public hearing until July. The rationale behind that decision was that she’d rather discuss it during an in-person meeting instead of a virtual one,” Solis reports.

San Diego Vaccine Distribution Update

Data from the county shows 128,443 San Diegans have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 18 percent of those people have been fully vaccinated.

The county opened up vaccinations to residents 75 and older Monday, citing a recent slowdown in appointments. Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said the county also plans to expand eligibility to people 65 and older next week, contingent on vaccine availability. 

But even with that good news, the process of distributing vaccines still seems disorganized. People waiting for their appointments Tuesday at the Petco Park vaccination site told VOSD photographer Adriana Heldiz they had been waiting in their cars for hours with little movement.

Jay MacMaster, 75, was waiting in line near 14th Street with his daughter before deciding that walking would be faster.

Vaccination Super Station COVID San Diego Petco Park
Cars line up on 13th Street to enter the vaccination super station near Petco Park. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

“They need someone here to direct traffic,” MacMaster said. “You’ve got six roads fitting into one road and you have people cutting.”

Once he got there on foot, he said it took 45 minutes to get vaccinated.

Scripps Health, like UC San Diego Health, announced Tuesday that it has started administering the vaccine to patients 65 and older

In other not-so-great news: The New York Times reports that while California scientists were searching for the fast-spreading variant of COVID-19 recently identified in Britain, they found we have our own unique mutation.

The variant, known as CAL.20C, could help explain Southern California’s recent surge in cases. The Times reports that CAL.20C showed up in more than half of the samples tested last week by researchers in Los Angeles.

Kristian Anderen, a microbiologist at Scripps Research who discovered one of the first samples of the British variant in the United States, told The Atlantic that the virus’ mutation rate is “a little bit of a wake-up call.”

We know you still have tons of questions, and so do we. Earlier this week our MacKenzie Elmer rounded up what you should know about vaccine distribution in San Diego and why California’s vaccination rate is lagging behind other states.

Enforcement Isn’t Happening Much

VOSD laid out on Tuesday how Carlsbad restaurants have become ground zero for defying coronavirus restrictions limiting restaurants to to-go service only. 

But as the Union-Tribune drives home, enforcement of restrictions there and throughout San Diego County remains incredibly lax. County sheriff’s deputies have issued hundreds of cease-and-desist orders, but cities like Oceanside and El Cajon have openly said they don’t plan to enforce the orders. And even cease-and-desist orders on their own don’t do much.

“Meanwhile, the DA’s office has only charged one business with a misdemeanor for violating public health orders, the Ramona Fitness Center, and those charges were later dropped when the owner started complying with the rules,” the U-T reports.

Some businesses, meanwhile, are publicly promoting their decision to flout the rules, NBC San Diego reports.

NAACP Opposes Marten Nomination

The local NAACP branch called on the incoming Biden administration to reconsider its nomination of San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten to be deputy education secretary, citing, among other things, Voice of San Diego reporting revealing disparities in how suspensions and other discipline is doled out.

“A June 2020 analysis by the nonprofit Voice of San Diego showed that across the county’s 42 school districts, Black students represent more than 12% of suspensions despite being less than 5% of the overall student population. Another study by UCLA’s Black Male Institute and the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) about suspension and exclusion in San Diego County’s public schools found that 9.4% of Black male students were suspended during the 2016-2017 school year, and that the suspension rate for Black male foster youth was much higher at 27.4%,” the group wrote in a release. “More importantly, the report noted that Black male students in early education, kindergarten through third grade, are suspended at a rate that is 280% higher than that of peers.

In Other News

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

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