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Morning Report: Auditors Slam Hep A Failures Amid Warnings About a Potential New Crisis

Raul is a father staying at a shelter for migrants being run by a coalition of local nonprofits. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

About two months ago, the Department of Homeland Security changed how it handled asylum-seeking families at the border, releasing dozens of often disoriented and sick asylum seekers into San Diego each day, many with nowhere to go.

A group of nonprofits stepped in to provide temporary shelter, food, medical screenings and more before the migrants can travel to meet up with a relative or sponsor elsewhere in the United States to await immigration proceedings.

But the nonprofits say their resources are depleted and they’ve turned to local and state officials for help, but haven’t gotten far.

The state dropped news on Tuesday that it won’t use an armory in National City to help shelter the migrants, the way it did in 2016 when a large number of Haitians arrived at San Diego’s border, putting even more pressure on local governments to step up.

VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt and Maya Srikrishnan dig into the finger-pointing and fumbling around the migrant shelter and the public health crisis that could be looming.

The nonprofits and state leaders likened the inaction around the migrant shelter to the bureaucratic fumbling around the 2017 hepatitis A outbreak.

Speaking of Hepatitis A …

A state audit into the response to the crisis that dropped Thursday found county officials were warned in April 2017 that the outbreak could be one of the worst since vaccines were introduced, but still waited four months to declare a public health emergency. By then, the disease had killed 15 people and sickened hundreds more.

Halverstadt had tried for months through a public record request to obtain the email containing the explicit warning, but the county refused to disclose it, citing exemptions to public records law.

The audit also confirmed much of Halverstadt’s previous reporting on the outbreak, including that the lack of urgency hampered efforts to implement sanitation measures, like handwashing stations, that could have helped curtail hepatitis A, which spreads when a person ingests trace amounts of fecal matter from a person who’s infected with it.

Chaos at the Border, Continued

This is a big change that will surely be contested in court: A new Trump administration policy would require asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while their claims are processed in the United States. (Vox)

Volunteers pledge to help migrants navigate the asylum process for at least 40 days and 40 nights. (KPBS)

The Latest Battle Between San Diego and SDG&E

The city and San Diego Gas & Electric have been fighting over the future of energy in San Diego.

Now they’re in a new dispute, reports VOSD’s Ry Rivard. This time it’s over the largest local water project in recent history.

To build its Pure Water recycling plant, the city must move some of SDG&E’s equipment. But the company is refusing to pay for the relocation, citing a legal case from 1908. The refusal could add $48 million to the cost of the project, which the city will have to foot.

In Other News

Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified the source of funds for SDPD to implement a law to combat racial profiling. The City Council provided funding.

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

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