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Coronavirus in San Diego and California: April 16 - 18, 2020

This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in San Diego and California from April 16 - 18, 2020.

SAN DIEGO — Editor’s note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in San Diego and California from April 16 - 18, 2020.  Click here for real-time updates for April 19, 2020, and on.

Key facts in San Diego:

Key facts in California:

  • California governor issued a statewide stay at home order on March 19.
  • There are 28,963 confirmed cases in California and 1,072 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.
  • 3,221 Californians are hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 1,173 are in the ICU, according to the California Department of Public Health.
  • Approximately 266,900 tests have been conducted. At least 259,666 results have been received and another 7,200 are pending as of April 17, according to the California Department of Public Health.
  • A senior hotline has been set up to answer questions at 833-544-2374.

April 18

State lists 11 San Diego nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks

For a full list of the impacted nursing homes, click here

San Diego groups protest government-imposed shutdown orders on Saturday

The Freedom Rallies took place in downtown and featured people on the right and left sides of the political spectrum. For a full rundown on the protests and to watch a live stream of the event, click here

Governor Newsom updates state initiative on keeping homeless safe from COVID-19

Governor Newsom announced a partnership with Motel 6 which will provide over 5,000 new motel rooms. For a full breakdown of Project Roomkey, click here

Cox offers free internet for K-12 students amid COVID-19 school closures

The offer is available to families who have at least one kindergarten through 12th-grader and receive benefits from the National School Lunch Program, SNAP or TANF. For more information, click here.

April 17

Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order on Foster Youth Services in Response to COVID-19

Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed an executive order that allows for temporary waivers to certain foster youth programs to ensure continuity of care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The executive order will allow county child welfare agencies and probation departments to perform necessary functions using alternative processes other than face-to-face interactions. 

This includes allowance for a 60-day waiver to allow for flexibility in the emergency placement of foster youth and ensures that foster youth have access to critical programs and technology by verifying foster care status for foster youth and wards of the juvenile court whose cases are pending. 

The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.

San Diego Comic-Con International is canceled for 2020

Comic-Con International announced Friday it is canceling this year's San Diego Comic-Con in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 celebration -- which had been scheduled for July 23-26 -- would have been the 51st iteration of the convention, one of San Diego's largest and most lucrative conventions. In 2019, more than 130,000 people attended.

Organizers said the event will return next year to the San Diego Convention Center from July 22-25. Read the full story here.

Business, labor, politics have role in California task force

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is turning to the leaders of some of the country's biggest companies, labor unions and political allies for help as he confronts the economic devastation brought by the coronavirus pandemic. Newsom announced on Friday the Task Force of Business and Jobs Recovery. 

Some observers are surprised Newsom appointed Tom Steyer, a billionaire philanthropist and former Democratic presidential contender, to lead the task force. He'll share duties with Newsom's chief of staff. 

The creation of the task force comes after 3.1 million of California's nearly 40 million residents have filed for unemployment.  

California's unemployment rate soars, but worst yet to come

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has lost 100,000 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of nonessential businesses. A new report from the California Employment Development Department shows California's unemployment rate hit 5.3% in March. 

But the numbers are just a glimpse of what is to come. The job losses are based on a survey taken the week that included March 12. Most of the state's job losses came after that date. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a mandatory stay-at-home order on March 19. 

California had job losses in six of the state's 11 industry sectors. The biggest losses were in the leisure and hospitality industry. 

Cox Offers Free Internet for K-12 Students Amid COVID-19 School Closures

Cox Communications announced today it will be offering free internet service through mid-July for eligible low-income families with a student from kindergarten through 12th grade at home. Customers signing up before May 15 can receive the offer, which provides the company's Connect2Compete service free of charge until July 15. 

More information is available at www.cox.com/connect2compete.

Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Cox announce group to plan reactivation of economy

City and county elected officials on Friday announced the creation of an advisory group that will develop strategies for an eventual phased re-opening of San Diego's economy, which has been largely shuttered due to COVID-19-related public health orders.

The San Diego Economic Recovery Advisory Group will begin meeting Monday to develop a framework for reopening the region for business once it is deemed safe. Read the full story here.

San Diego County death toll rises to 70

There are 2,158 total cases of COVID-19 in San Diego County out of the 30,246 people that have been tested as of Friday. 

70 people have died, which represents 3.2% of the total cases.

You can watch the full county update here.

UC San Diego Health begins tests looking for COVID-19 antibodies

Physicians and scientists at UC San Diego Health announced they began a pair of tests to find novel coronavirus antibodies. They are looking specifically at people who have previously been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the viral cause of COVID-19, even if they never experienced telltale symptoms. Read the full story here.

Trump gives states 3-phase plan to reopen economy as governors decide next steps

President Trump gave governors a road map Thursday for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic, laying out "a phased and deliberate approach" to restoring normal activity in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

The new guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while holding the line in harder-hit locations.

Click here for the full story.

San Diego Food Bank holds fourth emergency food distribution event in La Mesa

The San Diego Food Bank will hand out 40-pound bags of food and paper products to the first 1,000 cars that come through on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees will receive a gallon of milk, several canned goods, fruits, nuts, paper towels, toilet paper, and baby wipes. For a full rundown of the event, click here.

CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra defends extraordinary virus shutdowns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's top law enforcement official says that what would normally be broad constitutional protections for freedoms of assembly, religion or buying guns have their limits when they endanger others during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The state has been sued over all three shutdown orders as government officials pick winners and losers in which businesses and activities can continue and which must be curtailed to contain spread of the virus. 

But Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in an interview Thursday that officials have broad authority to do what they think is necessary to slow the spread, even if that trumps normal fundamental freedoms. 

April 16

Gov. Newsom orders paid sick leave for food workers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's governor has signed an order granting two weeks of paid sick leave to farm workers, delivery drivers, grocery store and fast-food employees so they won’t feel pressured to keep working while infected with the coronavirus. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the financial help is critical for workers he says are making sure Californians have food on their tables. 

Newsom said at least 51 workers had tested positive for COVID-19 at a Safeway warehouse in the Central Valley, and one had died. 

San Diego unemployment grows as economic slowdown lengthens

The San Diego Workforce Partnership released data Thursday showing layoffs in the last month and a half in the San Diego region have exceeded 20 times the average yearly number.

Usually by the end of the year -- since 2015 -- between 3,000 and 7,000 workers are laid off in some capacity in the county. In March and April, nearly 50,000 workers lost their jobs, according to the partnership.

A total of 46,217 employees have lost jobs at 326 businesses reporting layoffs related to COVID-19, an increase of 13,500 jobs and 102 businesses from last week's data. 

Click here for the full story.

Mayor Faulconer launches partnership supporting arts and culture community

The creation of a private-public partnership to help San Diego artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was announced by the city Thursday.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said $1.25 million has already been secured for the effort to sustain local artists, with a goal of reaching at least $2 million. Initial funding sources include the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition, the San Diego Foundation, the city and private donors.

Read the full story here.

Skinny Beach Med Spa physician charged with fraud for alleged COVID-19 cure claims

A physician who runs a Carmel Valley beauty treatments center was charged today with mail fraud in connection with the sale of what he allegedly described as a coronavirus cure that could render people immune to the virus for at least six weeks.

Jennings Ryan Staley, 44, operates Skinny Beach Med Spa, which late last month began sending emails advertising "COVID-19 treatment packs," described as a "concierge medicine experience" priced at $3,995 for a family of four, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego. Read the full story here.

Poway City Council approves coronavirus-related loan program

The Poway City Council on Thursday unanimously approved an emergency loan program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Poway Emergency Assistance Recovery Loans program sets aside up to $2 million in city funds for loans. A qualified applicant can receive between $5,000 and $50,000. Read the full story here

San Diego nurse working in New York describes the ICU as a 'warzone'

Nurse Tracy Contizano said she has dealt with every severe disease and trauma but she has never seen patients sicker than the ones in New York. She described going to work like going into battle with no breaks and no guarantee you won't go home infected with coronavirus. 

Contizano left the emergency room at UC San Diego to serve on the front lines in New York City at Bellevue Hospital in the ICU in Manhattan. It is the nation's oldest public hospital and one of the U.S.’s busiest medical centers.

Contizano said in that hospital alone, there are over 200 people on ventilators.

Click here for the full story.

VERIFY: Can a sneeze travel 27 feet?

A new video showing how far a sneeze can travel is raising questions about social distancing. A researcher at MIT says sneeze particles can spread up to 27 feet.

The slow-motion video is graphic. But, according to the researcher behind it, it's an accurate look at what happens when someone sneezes, spraying droplets as far as 27 feet away.

Originally posted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the video, and corresponding article have gone viral. 

Click here for the full story.

Chula Vista women raises thousands of dollars to help Tijuana healthcare workers

Chef Marcela from the Food Network and Elizabeth Encinas have created a GoFundMe to help Tijuana healthcare workers. To learn how you can help, click here.

San Diego businesses worried after Small Business Administration stops accepting applications for funding

The Small Business Administration stopped accepting applications for its Payroll Protection Program Thursday after it exhausted available funding. Congress authorized $349 billion for the program, which gives companies a loan to keep paying employees during the pandemic, but the money ran out in less than two weeks. You can read the full report here.

Navy identifies USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailor who died of COVID-19

According to U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs, the Navy has identified a sailor who died of COVID-19.

Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Arkansas served on the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt. According to the Navy, Thacker died from COVID-19 on April 13 after testing positive on March 30.  You can read the full story here.

San Diego COVID-19 cases up by 75 to 2,087; reported deaths up by 3 to 63 total

County health officials Thursday reported an additional 75 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and three additional deaths. There are now 2,087 cases in the county and we have suffered 63 three deaths, according to San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. The latest deaths break down by gender and age as follows: 

  • A female in her early 30s
  • A female in her late 70s
  • A male in his early 50s

Dr. Wooten reported that all three victims had underlying health conditions.

Click here for the full story.

Governor Newsom announces paid leave for sick food industry workers, farmers

Newsom announced he had just signed a statewide executive order that will allow for two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for food workers, such as farmers, food delivery workers, and grocery store workers. 

“I hope this will significantly reduce the anxiety [food workers have],” said Newsom. “We don’t want you going to work sick,” said Newsom. You can read the full story here.

BBB launches online CARES Act & PPP course for small businesses

 BBB has launched a no-cost CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Course. The course is designed to educate small businesses seeking funding options. Various relief programs are available and misinformation can delay the critical process of receiving essential funding.  

COVID-19 testing begins for homeless at San Diego Convention Center

Homeless people who are staying at the San Diego Convention Center will start getting tested for COVID-19 Thursday. Those tests will be given out daily to make sure no one inside the convention center has the coronavirus.  

Read the full story here.

San Diego Pride cancels all in-person events in July

San Diego Pride’s Board of Directors and staff announced that all in-person gatherings scheduled for July 2020 will not take place as planned. For more information, click here.

San Diego County Sheriff's  releasing hundreds of inmates to comply with statewide order

Authorities Thursday will continue releasing inmates without bail in compliance with a state order to reduce prison populations in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19. For more information, click here.

Jerome’s Furniture restructures operations in response to COVID-19 quarantine

Jerome’s Furniture Thursday restructured operations to ensure it continues to provide families access to items such as specialty furniture, mattresses, home office, and other furniture needed to function during the COVID-19 quarantine period and afterwards. Doing so required the company to reduce its employee count by approximately one-third, or 274 staff members. 

Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego presents a small business aid teleconference Thursday

Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, will present a small business aid teleconference Thursday at 2 p.m. to present the various resources available to small businesses across California in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To submit a question and/or register for the call, click here.

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RELATED: Coronavirus cases increasing in the South Bay

RELATED: Governor Newsom announces paid leave for sick food industry workers, farmers

RELATED: COVID-19 testing begins for homeless at San Diego Convention Center

RELATED: Facts Not Fear: All the facts you need about COVID-19

View all News 8 coverage of coronavirus / COVID-19  
 
News 8 has joined forces with The San Diego Foundation to raise immediate, emergency funds for our most vulnerable neighbors in need. Here is how you can help.  

We also have a Frequently Asked Questions page we will continue updating with the latest information and reports.  

Click here to watch "Facts Not Fear," a News 8 Special on coronavirus from March 26, 2020. 

BACKGROUND 

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.  

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, as with any other respiratory illness:  

Know how it spreads 

  • There is no vaccine  

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus 

  • It is thought to spread mainly from person-person between people in close contact 

  • And believed to be spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes 

Protect yourself 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds 

  • If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick 

  • Put distance between yourselves and others 

Protect others 

  • Stay home when you are sick 

  • Wear a facemask if you are sick 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash 

  • If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow 

  • Immediately wash your hands after coughing and sneezing  

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe 

You can find information on disinfecting and cleaning on the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page. 

The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  

The County of San Diego has made face coverings mandatory for those working with the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and similar businesses. 

While officials say these face coverings are not a substitute for practices like social distancing and handwashing, there is evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Officials do not recommend the public use N-95 or surgical masks which are needed by health care workers and first responders.