Homeless San Diego Coronavirus
The Comfort Inn in Old Town is one of three San Diego hotels where a county contractor is temporarily housing homeless San Diegans who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Two homeless San Diegans whose health conditions helped them secure hotel rooms via a county program to temporarily house homeless people considered particularly vulnerable to coronavirus recently lost their rooms after leaving them to be treated in local hospitals.

Destry Whitney and Shawn Lumley, whose health issues helped them qualify for the hotel rooms in two Old Town hotels, told VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt they learned after departing local hospitals that they had lost their rooms because they had left them for 48 hours. The county has amassed 640 rooms in three hotels for homeless people who are considered at high risk of complications if they were to contract COVID-19.

A county spokesman told Halverstadt that its workers and contractor Equus Workforce Solutions coordinate with hospitals when guests are treated and discharged and that sometimes rooms are held open while hotel guests receive medical care.

But both Whitney, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Lumley, who has recently grappled with flare-ups of gout, said they lost their rooms after hospitalizations and that the county and its contractor didn’t communicate with them about the status of their rooms before they left the hospital.

State Bill Tackles Outdoor Equity

Tourists can visit San Diego and experience beaches, deserts and mountains without much hassle, but plenty of people who grow up here do so without regular, easy access to any of the region’s natural amenities.

A state bill from Sen. Ben Hueso is looking to address that, directing state agencies to incorporate outdoor equity and environmental equity into their planning decisions, as Maya Srikrishnan covers in a new story. The bill doesn’t, however, mandate any changes or provide any money to address the imbalance.

Today in Vaccine News

State officials announced Thursday that the state will start setting aside 40 percent of vaccine doses it receives for the state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods to try to attack community spread in areas most at risk during the pandemic. Reopening guidelines will also be adjusted to loosen requirements to qualify for reopening once the state has hit 2 million vaccinations in vulnerable areas.

The Associated Press reported that the doses will be spread among 400 ZIP codes with about 8 million Californians and that many of the targeted neighborhoods are in Los Angeles County and the Central Valley. 10 News noted the state uses the Healthy Places Index to identify the most vulnerable communities. 

NBC 7 San Diego reported that about 100 priests and deacons in the San Diego Catholic Diocese got their first shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. All were eligible under state vaccine guidelines. Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan has dubbed the vaccine a “moral obligation” and the diocese has also issued statements supporting vaccination.

San Diego Zoo officials announced Thursday that they have vaccinated four orangutans and five bonobos as part of an experimental effort that comes a few months after eight gorillas contracted COVID-19. The Union-Tribune has more details – and explains that the apes weren’t cutting in line ahead of their fellow primates as the doses weren’t authorized for people.

News Roundup

  • A joint investigation by inewsource and KPBS found dozens of facilities across the state that received waivers from state minimum nurse-to-patient ratios failed to document evidence on why the exception was needed, including six in San Diego County that applied without first rescheduling non-emergency procedures.
  • Other businesses and historic preservationists in Mission Valley are speaking out against a proposed Home Depot in the neighborhood and plans to demolish the more than 60 year old Scottish Rite Center building, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • NBC 7 San Diego reports that La Mesa has hired a recruiting firm to help the city search for its next police chief.
  • The San Diego Blood Bank says it urgently needs donors as surgeries delayed earlier in the pandemic resume, 10 News reports.
  • Hate crimes against Asian-Americans across the country are on the rise over the last year, and San Diego is no exception, KPBS found.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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