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Morning Report: Nursing Home Oversight Falters

The San Diego Office of the California Department of Public Health / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended everything, including investigations by state regulators into complaints against California’s nursing homes.

Between March and June, regulators from the California Department of Public Health received 739 complaints against nursing homes, and substantiated just 21 of them, or 2.8 percent, according to data obtained by Voice contributor Jared Whitlock [1]. Last year during the same timeframe, the agency received 3,240 complaints and substantiated 39 percent, comparable numbers to two years ago as well.

A nursing home reform advocate said the plummeting number of substantiated complaints was shocking, and a surveyor from Southern California said officials are just now working on complaints from March, suggesting the agency is dealing with a backlog. Yet CDPH officials said the low substantiation rate is evidence of the industry’s all-hands-on-deck approach to the crisis.

Defending Himself, Council Candidate Makes Four Bogus Claims

The Union-Tribune reported this weekend that Kelvin Barrios, a labor organizer and former staffer for Council President Georgette Gomez now running to succeed her as the District 9 representative, was under criminal investigation over allegations of embezzlement from Democratic groups.

Late Monday, Barrios issued a press release defending himself, in which he made four specific claims about the various entities that had already vindicated him of the charges.

But none of them were true, Voice’s Jesse Marx found [2], and his misleading claims are only drawing more scrutiny of the allegations against him.

The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission had dismissed the claim against him, Barrios said, but actually the group just determined it was not something they could legally look into, because he was a volunteer at the time of the alleged event. The District Attorney dismissed the complaint as well, he said, but a DA spokesman said that while he couldn’t confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, the office “did not dismiss a criminal complaint or clear anyone of wrongdoing on this matter.”

And Barrios said the Democratic Party’s ethics committee had suspended its inquiry into his behavior, though the group’s leadership said it is just waiting on more information to come in before it decides to close the complaint. Barrios said the city attorney’s office “found no grounds to pursue the complaint,” but a city attorney spokeswoman said the office never received a complaint.

Schools Can Open Soon … But Many Won’t

San Diego County is no longer accepting applications from schools looking for a waiver to re-open for in-person education, as 10 News reported [3]. That’s largely because they can all open next week, if they want to. But many districts, covering the majority of students in the county, will not.

San Diego Unified announced weeks ago the county would have to hit much more strict standards for lowering the transmission of the virus. One metric school district officials are insisting on, for example, is that the county needs to get to just seven outbreaks or fewer over seven days. There were 21 outbreaks over the last seven days — the number has held steady even as the other indicators have improved. (You can follow the triggers [4] here.)

The Union-Tribune noted that the county’s case rate has held steady [5] under 100 cases per 100,000 residents, meaning the region has several days remaining before K-12 schools not already granted waivers can offer in-person learning.

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The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt and edited by Scott Lewis.