Morning Report: What the County Isn't Sharing on Community Outbreaks - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: What the County Isn't Sharing on Community Outbreaks

A customer waits to receive his take-out order at Kono’s Cafe in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

County officials say that most of the new coronavirus outbreaks that motivated them to order bars closed this week have come from bars and restaurants – and thus, they have decided to limit the operations of those businesses. But officials haven’t released a lot of information about the outbreaks, including the number of people infected in each one, that can be helpful for scientists and the public to better understand outbreaks and what should be done about them, reports Voice of San Diego’s Will Huntsberry.

Privacy in divulging information about outbreaks is a concern. You don’t want to have restaurants or people’s houses being exposed or labeled as a “plague house,” one epidemiologist told Huntsberry.

But information about how many people were associated with each outbreak and where they were in a certain space – for example, staff or customers at a business – can help people understand the nature of outbreaks. Demographic information about the outbreaks, like age, can also help researchers understand whether children, even when asymptomatic, are transmitters.

The county’s chief epidemiologist has previously said that his team works with any that has experienced an outbreak to ensure the facility is properly sanitized or shut down if needed. 

More Explosive Allegations Out of Donovan State Prison

Two incarcerated individuals, who have provided declarations in an ongoing lawsuit against the Richard J. Donovan State Prison, are pleading with a court for protection after they say they’ve experienced retaliation by prison staff.

Attorneys have asked a judge for a temporary restraining order for two people incarcerated at Donovan, and that they be transferred out of the facility due to abuse and retaliation they experienced after providing declarations in the case, reports VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan. The motion is part of a broader lawsuit alleging rampant abuse by staff against individuals with disabilities incarcerated at the state prison.

A different man who filed a declaration in the lawsuit has died in the facility since the initial complaint was filed in February. Court filings contend he died after experiencing further abuse at the hands of officers. Both individuals seeking court-ordered protections submitted previous declarations describing the situation leading up to the man’s death and officer involvement.

On June 17, an officer body-slammed one of the individuals, according to court documents, saying things like “Explain that to the lawyers you talk to.” The other individual has experienced staff stepping on her hands and ankles while she was having a seizure, using other incarcerated people to threaten her and endangering her life by repeatedly announcing over public address systems that she was speaking with the Office of Internal Affairs and attorneys, court documents contend.

Donovan also recently just reported its first COVID-19 case among its incarcerated population.

A dozen staff members have tested positive since the end of April. Those incarcerated, staff members and attorneys have been raising the alarm that the conditions in the facility, which houses many people with disabilities and who are otherwise medically vulnerable, could fuel a particularly deadly spread of the virus.

Activists Demand Defunding San Diego Unified Police

Two stories this week have detailed massive disparities in the Black student experience in San Diego. 

Hours before a planned march at San Diego Unified’s headquarters Thursday, KPBS revealed that Black youth are up to four times more likely to be arrested or detained than their White peers by school police. That echoed our reporting from earlier this week that showed Black students are three times more likely to be suspended than their White peers across San Diego County’s 42 school districts.

Black youth say they are more likely to be treated with suspicion in schools by police and sometimes their teachers. 

During the march Thursday, more than 200 student activists and supporters gathered to demand that Superintendent Cindy Marten remove police from all schools across the district, Huntsberry reported in the Learning Curve. 

Los Angeles Unified has slashed police spending and Oakland has eliminated cops from schools altogether. But, so far, San Diego Unified does not appear poised to take action.  

In Other News

  • Black-owned businesses say they’ve been shut out of assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. only $1.5 million worth of Small Business Administration loans out of a total of $77 million was allocated to Black-owned businesses in San Diego. (NBC 7)
  • The region’s unemployment rate is estimated to be 14.8 percent, according to a new SANDAG report. That’s 6.4 percent lower than a month earlier, but more than 250,000 people are still unemployed in the county – five times the number before the COVID-19 pandemic began. (City News Service)
  • Cities across San Diego County should declare racism a public health crisis, writes Brittany Hunsinger, project manager for Partnerships 4 Success, in an op-ed. Doing so would open up avenues for specific action that ensures racial equity, she argues.
  • A new partnership agreement between the county and a local advocacy group aims to address the racial disparities in the region’s child welfare system. The percentage of Black children in the region’s child welfare system is almost four times their percentage of the general population. (Union-Tribune)
  • Although funding has been secured for several border sewage projects, progress will be slow. (KPBS)
  • A new mental health crisis unit opening at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido will take pressure off emergency departments in North County. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Sara Libby.

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