Here are noteworthy updates for La Jolla and San Diego County residents regarding coronavirus-related business relief packages; assistance for low-wage workers; COVID-19 testing; childcare services; documenting the virus crisis; research efforts; and other local news.
San Diego Police close all parks, beaches, trails
Starting 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 22, San Diego police officers shut down Scripps Park and La Jolla Shores beach — along with every other beach and park in the City — for an unspecified period due to coronavirus.
At first, it was reported that only the parking lots were closed. However, the City of San Diego later tweeted that gatherings “of any size” were now prohibited at City parks and beaches.
“Public health officials are clear that gatherings of any size can lead to the spread of COVID-19, which is why they continue to be prohibited everywhere, including at beaches and parks,” Fire-Rescue chief Colin Stowell said. “Local and state rules limiting groups have been in effect for days, so this should not be a surprise to anyone.”
Walking, running and cycling are apparently still allowed, but it is unclear what number of people define “a gathering of any size.” (An e-mail to City spokesperson Jose Ysea was not returned as the Light went to press.)
Mayor has coronavirus business relief package
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled a $4 million economic relief package that reduces fees and offers support to local employers affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The programs announced include small business loans, fee deferrals and 180-day extension of all business permits with more details on how businesses can apply for the loans will be released in the coming days.
“Businesses are following public health orders, and we recognize this has an impact,” Faulconer said. “This relief effort is about restoring some balance to the current situation. San Diego businesses are making a necessary sacrifice while bearing a tremendous burden as they comply with these orders.”
United Way assisting low-wage workers
United Way of San Diego County (UWSDC) has created an emergency its San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative to help low-wage workers suffering coronavirus-related layoffs with utilities and housing payments.
“In response to COVID-19, our organization has quickly organized and stands ready to assist our most vulnerable working individuals and families living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet,” said CEO Nancy Sasaki.
Nearly 200,000 employees are represented in the hospitality and tourism sector in San Diego County alone, a third of whom are considered to be low-wage. Read more at uwsd.org/covid19
UCSD to boost COVID-19 testing
UC San Diego announced it will significantly boost its in-house COVID-19 testing to 1,000 to 1,500 tests per day within two weeks. The tests, conducted by the UCSD Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, are thanks to a partnership between UCSD Health, USCD School of Medicine and five diagnostics manufacturers.
“These partnerships, executed with unprecedented urgency and speed, signify extraordinary, meaningful progress,” said UCSD Health CEO Patty Maysent. “They represent greater access soon to COVID-19 testing, not just for our patients and health-care workers, but hopefully the larger community in need.”
Beginning March 10, UCSD Health became one of the first organizations to conduct in-house COVID-19 testing, cutting the wait for results from days or weeks to hours.
La Jolla Historical Society is chronicling coronavirus
The La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) is documenting the coronavirus pandemic for future historians and researchers. If you live in La Jolla, you are are invited to submit stories about how this historic crisis is affecting you, your neighbors and our community. All stories will be collated and archived.
LJHS provided some questions to get your creative juices flowing: How’s morale? In this strange and uncertain time, how are you feeling about the curtailing of social interaction? What is your experience practicing social distancing? What are you most fearful of? How are you adapting? Do you have examples of how our community is coming together?
E-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and visit lajollahistory.org
San Diego for Every Child for COVID-19 relief
The San Diego for Every Child (SDFEC) nonprofit has established the San Diego COVID-19 Children’s fund to help the 200,000 San Diego County children under age 12 living in poverty with urgent needs. The fund is facilitated through Jewish Family Service of San Diego.
“These are unprecedented times,” said SDFEC director Erin Hogeboom. “The San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund will remain responsive and flexible to meet the ever-changing situation. We will continue to distribute funding to the areas of greatest need to assist San Diego County’s most cost-burdened families.”
Tax-deductible donations of any size can be made at sandiegoforeverychild/covid19
Humane Society, Project Wildlife open during COVID-19
The San Diego Humane Society (SDHC) remains open during the coronavirus crisis for adoptions, relinquishments, vaccine services and fostering — but by appointment only. Community spay/neuter services are temporarily suspended, according to a SDHC press release, “to decrease non-essential services to the public so we can concentrate our resources on emergency care and our shelter animals.” Call (619) 299-7012 or drive up to any of its campuses and make an appointment from your vehicle.
Project Wildlife also remains open. Those who find hurt or abandoned wildlife during the pandemic are asked to bring the animal to the Bahde Wildlife Center at 5433 Gaines St. in San Diego. Also, Humane Law Enforcement Officers are still responding to emergency calls such as law-enforcement assistance, injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complaints. Read more at sdhumane.org
Scripps researchers say COVID-19 origin is natural
Despite claims on conspiracy websites and talk radio, the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is the product of natural evolution, according to findings published in the journal Nature Medicine. An analysis of public genome sequence data performed by Scripps Research scientists found zero evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered.
“By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes,” said Scripps Research associate immunology professor and lead author Kristian Anderson.
Josie Golding, epidemics lead at UK-based Wellcome Trust, characterized the findings as “crucially important to bring an evidence-based view to the rumors that have been circulating … ending any speculation about deliberate genetic engineering.”
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging widely in severity. The first known severe illness caused by a coronavirus emerged with the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China. A second outbreak of severe illness began in 2012 in Saudi Arabia with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
San Diego YMCA offers childcare hotline
With schools across the County closed, and Gov. Newsom suggesting they probably won’t reopen before summer break, YMCA Childcare Resource Service (CRS) is offering families options with open childcare centers and family childcare homes that are licensed and inspected.
“We are hearing from many childcare providers that they are still open,” said CRS spokesperson Laurie Han. “Many providers want to continue serving the families they know and love, and are eager to serve additional families while implementing recommended practices for prevention of transmission. This includes small groups, cleaning and sanitation.”
San Diego County families looking for care can discuss their childcare needs with an advisor, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at (800) 481-2151 or ymcasd.org/childcarereferrals
Curbside library pickup established
All County of San Diego libraries are now employing curbside pickup to help county residents practice social-distancing. Patrons may use the library’s online catalog or call their branch libraries, place orders for the books they’re seeking, and then pick them up at the library’s curbside weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. once the material is ready. Learn more at sdcl.org
La Jolla Concours d’Elégance & Motor Car Classic postponed
The La Jolla Concours d’Elégance & Motor Car Classic is among dozens and dozens of La Jolla events that will need to be postponed before this public health crisis is through.
The organization has set tentative new dates of Sept. 19 and 20 in the same location (Scripps Park). All previously purchased tickets will be honored at that time. Read more at lajollaconcours.com
U.S. Postal Service asks: Keep dogs away
The U.S. Postal Service is asking pet owners to distance their dogs from carriers during the coronavirus lockdown.
“With more children at home during school closures, incidents of dog attacks on postal carriers have a tendency to increase,” read a USPS press release. “Children rush to the door when they see a mail carrier and the household dog usually follows right behind, leaving the carrier vulnerable to a dog attack.”
Pet owners are asked to wait for the carrier to leave the area before opening the door to get their mail or package.
Young author contest set to give kids something to do
The Essbee Learning Center is sponsoring its first Spring Fiction Writing Contest. Authors ages 6-14 are invited to enter. The story must be fiction and either typed, printed or written in cursive. There is no word or page limit, and illustrations are welcome but not mandatory.
Entrants must include their name, age, school, teacher’s name and teacher’s e-mail with their story. (Contest organizers will send the teacher an e-mail sharing how hard the student worked over spring break.)
The winner for each grade level will receive a free book from Warwick’s. Entries should be scanned or attached in an e-mail to email@example.com by April 15. Winners will be notified May 1.
San Diego Museum of Art offers virtual tour
The San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park has a mobile app — available on the iPhone app store — offering virtual tours (from the lower rotunda to the galleries and the building’s façade), and allowing visitors to listen to audio clips while looking at various works from exhibitions.
Currently, all museum events and programs through at least March 31 (and likely longer) have been canceled or postponed. Learn more about San Diego Museum of Art at sdmart.org
Have a La Jolla news tip or story idea?
Call La Jolla Light at (858) 875-5950 or e-mail the details (and include a related photo if possible) to firstname.lastname@example.org