Morning Report: Not Much COVID Enforcement Happening Despite Crackdown | Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Not Much COVID Enforcement Happening Despite Crackdown

Todd Gloria delivers a speech on election night. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The day before New Year’s Eve, Mayor Todd Gloria announced the city would be cracking down on blatant violators of public health orders, a seemingly bold change ahead of the holiday.

But our Jesse Marx pulled back the curtain on what’s happened since then and didn’t find a dramatic shift in enforcement. Marx could only find evidence of five tickets since December – so far. San Diego police have written more than 150 tickets over the last year.

Gloria in December directed officers to write tickets for low-level infraction violations that are routed to the county’s traffic court, which also handles minor offenses, because he thought those could be handled most swiftly. Yet, as of early this week, Marx found none of the municipal code tickets written in late December or early January has appeared in the Superior Court’s system, though the city still has time to file the paperwork.

Gloria said he expects it will – and that he opted to direct police to enforce an obscure municipal code that prohibits people from imperiling lives and property during an emergency, or from interfering in the protection of the city, because the traffic court seemed to be operating more efficiently than other court divisions.

SD Unified, Union: We’re Working on a Reopening Plan

San Diego Unified and teachers union leaders announced late Thursday that they have agreed on a framework for reopening schools this fall that is focused on the availability of vaccines for all school staff who want them and a continued reduction in community case rates.

The district said late Thursday that they were re-engaging with experts at UC San Diego to guide their continued work on a formal agreement. In a joint statement, the district and San Diego Education Association wrote that they would continue to follow science and take precautions.

“As many families have already begun to make plans for the fall, we also want to be clear that we are committed to returning to in-person learning in the fall with an online option still available to any families who do not feel comfortable coming on campus,” the union and the district wrote. “We feel confident making that commitment, because we are confident the new Biden administration is doing everything possible to vaccinate our workforce and provide the necessary resources for schools to operate safely.”

The concept of vaccines for all teachers who want them has been a central argument by the California Teachers Association in recent weeks as reopening debates have grinded on.

Those calls have led some politicians, including Gloria, to urge the state to prioritize vaccinations for school employees who work with young children.

The Day in (Other) COVID News

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Thursday the county expects to begin vaccinating teachers, police and other essential workers in the next few weeks following calls to prioritize educators and law enforcement.

Fletcher said at a Thursday press conference that the county has for now focused on vaccinating seniors over 65 because they are most vulnerable to coronavirus.

“Our seniors constitute the vast majority of COVID deaths,” Fletcher said. “So the supply of vaccines that we have is dedicated toward saving lives.”

And in the past couple days, Fletcher said Thursday, 83 of the 102 San Diegans reported to have perished from coronavirus complications have been seniors.

Times of San Diego noted that the essential worker tier that’s next on the county’s list also includes child care workers, plus those who work in food and agriculture. Next up will be residents between 50 to 65.

County officials also reported 1,113 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, which KPBS reported broke a three-day streak of fewer than 1,000 new cases. 

Hospitalizations and intensive care patient numbers, however, continued to decline.

New vaccination stations are also continuing to open this week. One station opened in San Marcos on Thursday and Scripps Health, the county and the Del Mar Fairgrounds are planning to open another super station at the fairgrounds Friday.

News Roundup

  • The Union-Tribune reveals that the county’s citizen review board reversed its finding that a sheriff’s deputy did nothing wrong after watching a now-deceased jail inmate strike her head and fall to the ground before leaving her alone.
  • 10 News reports that a partnership between county health officials and UC San Diego to test wastewater at 12 schools and child care centers could support plans to get students back to school.
  • The Padres are surveying season ticket-holders about in-person games this season, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • NBC 7 reports that homeless service provider Father Joe’s Villages is teaming with the Housing Commission and the county to operate a vaccination center for homeless San Diegans at its East Village campus.
  • The County Board of Supervisors’ voted to make it easier to develop renewable energy projects in the unincorporated parts of the county, the U-T reports.
  • Whenever state and local officials lift the eviction moratorium imposed because of the pandemic, evictions could double their pre-pandemic annual total, NBC 7 reports. 

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

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