Ramah Awad says community organizations like hers that serve Arab Americans struggle with funding and other issues because her community is often grouped with White people in data. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego is home to large numbers of people with roots in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, in great part because it’s a large refugee resettlement community.

But many of these communities are classified as White by the census, and community organizations who work with them told VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan that this misclassification hurts those populations, which are growing rapidly in the county.

For one, it means that it’s difficult to obtain data about their unique needs and determine things like whether the pandemic has disproportionately impacted them. That can mean fewer resources go to these communities and the organizations that work with them.

“At the most basic level, local government doesn’t have a sense of how many Arabic speakers or coming from the MENA region who are residing in their local city or county,” one community organizer in El Cajon told Srikrishnan. “In terms of the things our communities are losing out on – public funding when it comes to the schooling system and basic services. They’re an invisible population.”

Today’s Vaccine Update

San Diego County is set to get 10 percent more vaccines in its shipment next week, City News Service reports, though County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the increased allotment still won’t reach the region’s capacity to administer vaccines in its 30 countywide cites.

But while Fletcher stresses that the supply is not keeping pace with vaccination demand, one group in the region isn’t coming close to using its special supply of shots.

Less than a third of teachers have used the vaccines and vaccination appointments set aside for them by the county, the Union-Tribune reported, which is vexing school officials after teachers insisted on access to vaccines before they’d consider returning to classrooms.

Thus far, 90,000 teachers and school site staffers have been alerted to vaccine opportunities, after the county set aside one in five doses for them.

“Only about 29,000 have responded to those invitations and 23,000 have been vaccinated that way, according to the California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association (VEBA), which is handling the appointments for K-12 school staff,” the Union-Tribune reported.

At the same time, the county’s decision to extend eligibility to adults with a body mass index over 25 has made the vaccine available to hundreds of thousands of new county residents, as the Union-Tribune reports, though it’s impossible to peg the number, due to the many other ways a resident may have already been eligible.

The county has nonetheless used 92 percent of the vaccine doses it has received thus far, meaning nearly 28 percent of the county’s adult population has received one shot, and nearly 18 percent is fully vaccinated.

In Other News

  • SANDAG is preparing an overhaul of its regional transportation plan to meet greenhouse gas reduction mandates, but an increase in remote work and widening social and racial disparities that have occurred during the pandemic may change the agency’s plan. (KPBS)
  • Public safety spending increased 5 percent compared to a year ago, according to a new SANDAG report. One of every three general fund collars is dedicated to law enforcement for all cities with their own police departments. (City News Service)
  • Coronavirus-related restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border have been extended through April 21. (Union-Tribune)
  • Property owners in San Diego built 541 granny flats in 2020, continuing a multi-year surge in construction of the second homes on existing, single-family lots despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As recently as 2016, the city saw just 16 new granny flats in a year. They’ve increased steadily since then, thanks to the city cutting regulations and fees, especially in the beaches, urban neighborhoods near downtown and near SDSU. (Union-Tribune)
  • The San Diego County medical examiner identified two of the San Diegans killed Monday when an allegedly intoxicated driver drove over a sidewalk under an overpass where homeless residents had gathered to avoid the rain. Randy Daniel Ferris, 65, and Walter James Jones, 61, were identified Thursday, and Rodney Diffendal, 40, was identified earlier in the week. (NBC 7 San Diego)
  • Restaurant owners say they’re having a hard time re-staffing now that they’re allowed to operate with fewer restrictions. (10 News)

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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