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Students take part in a summer program at St. Augustine High School in 2020. / Photo courtesy of St. Augustine High School

The Catholic Diocese of San Diego will allow students at Catholic schools to use personal belief exemptions to avoid COVID vaccinations despite the state’s vaccine mandate.  

Our Will Huntsberry obtained a memo the diocese sent to school pastors and principals earlier this week that spelled out the diocese’s conclusion that any mandate added by the governor must include a medical exemption and a personal belief exemption.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled the new mandate last month, it appeared that personal belief exemptions would not be allowed since they aren’t allowed for other mandated vaccines.

But a spokesman for the local diocese told Huntsberry that Catholic leaders discovered that bans on personal belief exemptions do not apply to Newsom’s order and decided not to force students and parents describing those exemptions to get jabbed.

The diocese’s memo acknowledged that parents with children in local Catholic schools are divided on COVID vaccine mandates.

“We hope that this course of action by the diocese balances the need to protect the health of our students, teachers and staffs with the rights of parents to decide issues vital to their children,” the memo read.

Click here to read the full story.

San Diego Biz Will Have to Curb Cancer-Causing Pollution 

No more will San Diego permit air-polluting industries to spew cancer-causing toxins at a rate much higher than most of California. 

For decades, industries could pollute enough that the risk of contracting cancer to people living nearby was 100 in one million. (That risk level means that if one million people are continuously exposed to the same amount of pollution over 30 years, it’s likely 100 people would develop cancer on top of all the other risks they face.)

But on Thursday, the board governing the region’s air pollution regulator — the San Diego Air Pollution Control District — voted unanimously to change that rule and force industries to cut their pollution ten fold, so cancer risks were 10 in one million or less.

That means the dozens of industries with highest cancer risks will have to make investments and upgrade technologies to clean up their operations. Industries have a five-year window to do so, but they can get multiple three-year extensions (with no clear limit) under the new rule as long as they retrofit the businesses’ technologies to the best available kind, under the updated rule.

That was one of the biggest points of contention between environmental advocates and industry: how much time businesses could potentially take to clean-up their operations.

Continue reading …

Homeless Shelter Intakes Up

The city reports that homeless shelter intakes were up 63 percent by the end of last week following a Voice of San Diego story revealing beds sat empty during last Monday’s rainstorms.

Our Lisa Halverstadt reported last week that nearly three dozen city-funded shelter beds controlled by San Diego police went unfilled following a City Hall directive to increase police access to shelter beds. At the same time, outreach teams for People Assisting the Homeless, the city’s leading outreach provider, had a 50-person waiting list for shelter placements at a time of already increasing demand for beds.

City spokeswoman Ashley Bailey told VOSD that the city and the Housing Commission have since worked to resolve issues that played out late last month though she did not elaborate on the reasons beds controlled by police sat empty amid a push to help police more easily move homeless residents into shelter beds.

“The city and Housing Commission have connected with all service providers to clarify any issues with the process moving forward,” Bailey wrote in a Thursday email.

Data provided by the city showed 158 homeless San Diegans moved into city shelters between Oct. 25 and Oct. 31, up from 97 the previous week.

As of Wednesday, city data showed 87 percent of city-funded shelter beds were filled, including 78 percent of the 100 beds controlled by San Diego police. 

Photo of the Week

A girl looks at a Día de los Muertos alter at the Sherman Heights Community Center on Nov., 2, 2021. / photo by Adriana Heldiz

From Adriana Heldiz: During Día de los Muertos, we honor and celebrate, in a beautiful way, loved ones who have passed away. We’re reminded that while death is inevitable, we never lose our connection to those we love. 

Day of the Dead hits different for me this year. Communities of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in San Diego and across the country. Hundreds of migrants have died during their journey to the United States. And many in the U.S. live in the shadows hoping immigration officials don’t rip them away from their families. 

It’s a reminder that our community faces a set of injustices others do not that force us to say goodbye to our loved ones too soon.

This photo is from a Día de los Muertos celebration at the Sherman Heights Community Center this week. Check out more photos from the celebration here.

In Other News

  • Former City Councilwoman Barbara Bry made it official on Thursday: She’s running for county assessor. (Times of San Diego)
  • A nurse at the Las Colinas women’s jail has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the in-custody death of a 24-year-old woman who died after being left alone after she collapsed in her jail cell. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Union-Tribune explored the state of civic discourse — and what might be done to improve it — at San Diego County Board of Supervisors meetings in the wake of a racist, profanity-laden public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.
  • Some local doctors in the county are warning of a potential winter surge in coronavirus cases due to a recent uptick in cases. (10 News)
  • The Escondido City Council officially opposed SANDAG’s proposal to tax motorists for miles they drive to help bankroll a countywide transportation plan. (Fox 5)
  • The District Attorney’s Office recently flagged credibility issues with a crime lab staffer who worked on hundreds of cases over three decades, marking the second notification of this sort this year. (Warning: This one is only for Union-Tribune subscribers.)

This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, MacKenzie Elmer and Adriana Heldiz. It was edited by Andrew Keatts and Megan Wood.

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