New SANDAG report finds Black and Hispanic communities hardest hit by COVID-19
As the San Diego region’s labor market continues to experience a historic decline, Black and Hispanic communities are most impacted, according to a new SANDAG Data Science and Analytics report, “COVID-19 Impact on the San Diego Regional Economy: Black and Hispanic Communities Hardest Hit.”
Since the stay home order began in mid-March, SANDAG has closely monitored the economic impact of the pandemic on the San Diego region.
The new SANDAG report finds that when compared to the White population, Black and Hispanic populations are more than four times as likely to live in areas that have been impacted by COVID-19 and unemployment. More than two-thirds of the region’s Black (67%) and Hispanic (70%) populations reside in ZIP Codes with higher than average unemployment rates. Approximately half of Black (52%) and Hispanic (49%) residents live in ZIP Codes with higher than average COVID-19 cases.
White and Asian communities have been less impacted, with 14% and 24% respectively residing in areas experiencing high rates of unemployment and COVID-19 cases.
The report found that Black and Hispanic employees are overrepresented in the high contact and essential workforces. Hispanic employees account for 32% of the overall workforce but represent 46% of those working in the food service industry, and 37% of those working in the retail sector (excluding grocery and drugstore). Black employees account for nearly 5% of the overall workforce but represent more than 7% who work in childcare and social services, 9% in trucking, warehouse, and postal service, and nearly 20% of public transit workers.
Californians report over 800 incidents of anti-AAPI hate since COVID-19
As of July 1, Asian Americans in California have self-reported 832 incidents of discrimination and harassment in the last three months, including 81 incidents of assault and 64 potential civil rights violations, according to Stop AAPI Hate, the leading aggregator of incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate released the findings in a press briefing, during which California Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi and David Chiu, chair of Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, made specific and urgent policy demands of the California state legislature.
Discrimination and harassment of Asian Americans in California has drawn national attention recently after a series of videos in Torrance, California featured a woman using racist language against Asian Americans. The videos have received millions of views, and they reflect just a handful of the incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate in California.
President Donald Trump’s repeated use of the term “kung flu” in recent rallies and Twitter comments scapegoating China for the United States’ failure to control the coronavirus have also stoked further Anti-Asian American harassment.
Stop AAPI Hate has been advocating since April for the state to establish a Racial Bias Strike Team to further investigate the widespread and growing problem of COVID-19-related hate against the Asian American community in California and determine the most effective policies to address this problem. Nonetheless, California’s state budget excluded specific funding for initiatives advocated for by the Asian American community in California.
A new report shows that incidents of racism and discrimination are not isolated to any particular area but are a statewide problem: Asian Americans have reported incidents in 34 counties so far. Incidents are reportedly taking place in California in retail stores, in the workplace and online.
The Stop AAPI Hate coalition sent Governor Newsom another letter recommending the establishment of a Racial Bias Strike Team comprised of key state agencies and departments that have jurisdiction over public education, implementing state and federal civil rights laws, overseeing workplace and employment discrimination, providing mental health services to vulnerable communities, and offering support to local Asian American-serving community-based organizations.
Surveys reveal struggles community college students face during COVID-19
San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) students are facing overwhelming needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including job losses that are making it more difficult to afford rent and a lack of computer and internet access for classes that transitioned online, according to SDCCD surveys.
The hardships have prompted a sharp increase in students dropping their classes. A total of 18,577 withdrawals were recorded between the spring semester’s sixth and fifteenth weeks, which came during the heart of the pandemic, and they accounted for 17% of all enrollments. That compares the 10,834 withdrawals accounting for 9% of all enrollments recorded last year.
The primary challenge students at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges face are financial, with 29% of students at City, 24% of students at Mesa and 18% percent of students at Miramar saying they can’t afford to pay the rent, mortgage or utility bills. Eighteen percent of students at City College, 16% of students at Mesa College and 13% of students at Miramar College said there isn’t enough food at home. Numerous students are asking for mental and emotional support; many expressed concerns about exacerbating mental distress post COVID-19.
There also was ample gratitude for the services the SDCCD has extended during the crisis. Staff at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges and San Diego Continuing Education, for example, have distributed hundreds of laptops to students shortly after classes moved online; WiFi hotspots are being offered at college parking lots; scholarships and emergency funding is being provided with the support of donors; a variety of counseling and student services are now available online; and deadlines for withdrawals were extended. In addition, all the institutions have ramped up communications to ensure students are aware of available resources.
San Diego County neighborhoods are at risk of not being fully counted in 2020 Census
Local community leaders and representatives of over 150 nonprofits and municipalities who are members of the non-partisan Count Me 2020 Coalition are set to activate a “Week of Action” from July 6 through July 10 to encourage individuals to respond to the Census who live and work in neighborhoods which currently have a low Census response rate.
This Spring, the stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic forced many members of the Count Me 2020 Coalition to adjust not only their mission-centric operations but also their planned Census outreach efforts in the community. As time went on, community leaders determined it was important to provide a rapid response to essential services and programs, while at the same time continuing to encourage Census participation. They have also prioritized delivering meals to seniors, distributing emergency boxes of food and staples, and performing other acts of compassion to help neighbors in need.
Their efforts have paid off. As of June 25, there is a 67.4% self-response rate for the 2020 Census in San Diego County, which is higher than the current California response rate of 62.8%. But there are still neighborhoods that need a more intense focus on Census education and promotion.
Count Me 2020 Coalition’s Week of Action aims to increase the 2020 Census self-response rate to at least 68.2%, which was the final 2010 Census response rate for San Diego County, It also aims to keep the momentum going to achieve a full population count by the end of the Census response period, which is Oct. 31, 2020.
Although the City of San Diego’s Census response rate is ranked second nationwide in cities with populations of more than 1 million, there are still some neighborhoods and other cities in our region with extremely low participation rates.
Count Me 2020 officials can access Census response rate data down to a neighborhood block area, called Census tracts. The following communities are at risk of not being fully counted: Oceanside – Camp Pendleton; Escondido; in the City of San Diego: Normal Heights, Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, Logan Heights, City Heights, Downtown/San Diego City College; National City; Otay Mesa; Lemon Grove/La Presa; Chula Vista; Unincorporated areas in San Diego County: El Cajon, Campo/Morena Village/Jacumba/Boulevard, Santa Ysabel/Warner Springs. Additional communities also include the Pala, Pauma, and La Jolla Reservations.
California, and the San Diego region in particular, faces a number of unique challenges to ensure a complete Census count which include but are not limited to the diversity of our population, trans-border identities, language barriers, computer literacy, limited broadband connection, and a distrust in the federal government. Count Me 2020 leaders take into account these and other nuances to create effective outreach strategies to encourage populations identified by the State of California as “hard-to-count” to respond to the 2020 Census.
Various outreach tactics are planned across the Week of Action and will be implemented by Count Me 2020 Coalition members and municipal agencies to bring the community together in a safe and responsible way, building connection and solidarity.
Activities include virtual town halls, social media “thunderclaps” and neighbors calling neighbors — a phone-banking effort to make personal connections and conduct conversations with friends and family members to complete the 2020 Census. Organizers also intend to host car caravans in various neighborhoods in a safe, physically distant manner. A full schedule of events for the Count Me 2020 Coalition’s Week of Action will be shared on their social media channels and on their website, countme2020.org.
To complete the 2020 Census visit http://www.my2020census.gov/ or call the U.S. Census Bureau, where specific hotline numbers have been established for preferred in-language response over the phone. A full list of these phone numbers is available on the Count Me 2020 website. The questionnaire takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and responses are protected by law and cannot be shared with, or used by, any governmental agencies.
San Diego attorneys form pro bono program to help civil litigant in face of COVID-19 crisis
Amidst COVID-19-induced shelter-in-place orders, the San Diego Superior Court closed for all civil matters – creating a backlog of over 8,000 missed hearings, dozens of trials and an inability to move cases forward. In response, San Diego lawyers have joined forces to create RESOLVE Law San Diego (RLSD), poised to be the largest legal pro bono program in San Diego history.
Designed to streamline the law and motion and mediation process, the program — created by San Diego County Bar members and supported by virtually every bar association in the County — will help move civil cases forward by providing local attorneys a free venue for dispute resolution outside of the constrained court system.
The new program will offer litigants the opportunity to connect with a retired judge or a qualified local attorney to hear matters free of charge. Hearings are conducted by telephone or video conferencing and briefing is limited. The program is scheduled to last for 120 days while the San Diego Superior Court grapples with the backlog of cases after a two-month closure.
The over 240 lawyers and retired judges who have volunteered to participate in the program can be accessed at www.resolvelawsandiego.com.
San Diego County Water Authority board adopts rate increases for 2021
The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors has adopted a rate increase of 4.8% for untreated water and 4.9% for treated water in calendar year 2021 for its 24 member agencies.
The board told its staff to return in September or October with any further opportunities to reduce the 2021 rate increases, such as a decrease in rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California or the acquisition of federal or state economic stimulus funds.
Rate increases are driven by reduced water sales, higher rates and charges from MWD and continued regional investments in supply reliability. The adopted rates are 30% lower than proposed last month following refinements by the staff.
In 2021, the Water Authority will charge its 24 member agencies an all-in municipal and industrial rate of $1,474 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $68 more per acre-foot than they currently pay. Charges would be $1,769 per acre-foot for treated water, or $83 more per acre-foot than in 2020.
Actual figures will vary by member agency, and each member agency will incorporate costs from the Water Authority into the retail rates it charges to residents, businesses and institutions.
San Diego Museum of Art reopens to general public July 9
The San Diego Museum of Art is planning to reopen its doors to the general public July 9 following a closure since March 14 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
As an added precaution, since the Governor has placed San Diego on the state watch list, the Museum is canceling the Member Preview reopening dates July 6 and July 7.
To ensure the health and well-being of its visitors and following the City of San Diego’s guidance, the Museum will operate at a reduced visitor capacity and has implemented new safety protocols. All staff and visitors will be required to wear face masks, follow physical distancing measures and pass a non-invasive temperature screening to gain entry into the Museum.
As an expression of gratitude and support for their service, the Museum is offering free admission to all frontline workers and first responders upon the reopening of the Museum through Labor Day. This program is generously sponsored by American Medical Response.
For those unable or not yet ready to visit in-person, the Museum will continue to inspire, educate and cultivate curiosity through its Virtual SDMA digital offerings, including the Masterpiece Minute podcast, SDMA Mobile App, social media channels and SDMA at Play digital activities for art students of all ages.
Two endangered Amur leopard cubs born at San Diego Zoo
Guests at the reopened San Diego Zoo are getting a first look at two endangered Amur leopard cubs, born April 26, as they explore their outdoor habitat with mom, Satka. The cubs’ birth is particularly significant for their species, as fewer than 100 Amur leopards are believed to exist in their historic range in Russia and China.
After their birth, the cubs spent most of their time in an indoor habitat with Satka. They started to emerge from their den at 20 days old, and they had their first visit to the outdoor habitat 10 days later. They are now venturing out to explore with their mother daily.
Satka can be seen monitoring the habitat, demonstrating her natural instincts to watch out for any potential threats to her cubs. The cubs are already showing natural behaviors of stalking and climbing.
The cubs, who do not have names yet, will get their first hands-on veterinary exam this week, which will also reveal the sex of each cub. This is Satka’s second set of cubs, and they are being raised in the leopard habitat in Africa Rocks.
Amur leopards are the rarest of the big cat species on the planet. It is estimated there may be as few as 85 currently living in their historic range in the Primorye region of the Russian Far East. San Diego Zoo Global and other zoological organizations around the world have joined together in efforts to conserve this species.
Meals on Wheels San Diego County announces new president and CEO
Meals on Wheels San Diego County’s Board of Trustees announced June 16 that they have selected Brent Wakefield to serve as the agency’s President and CEO.
Brent Wakefield will begin his tenure at MOWSDC at the end of July. An open house where members of the community can meet and welcome Brent will be held in the Fall when and if social gathering restrictions have lifted.
Brent Wakefield comes to MOWSDC from the Salk Institute, where he has been focused on fundraising for Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative, which uses the power of plants to lower greenhouse gases on a global scale. Before Salk, Brent served as Chief Development Officer at Serving Seniors focusing on fundraising, developing cutting edge programs, and advocating for vulnerable seniors in San Diego. Brent has been devoted to the non-profit sector for over 20 years and is a native San Diegan.
CerasoliStafford Media Management announces new partner and new firm name
CerasoliStafford Media Management has announced that long-time media executive Bob Bolinger will join the firm effective July 1 as a new partner. Concurrent with the announcement, the firm will be changing its name to CerasoliStaffordBolinger, doing business as CSB Impact.
Bolinger’s career includes executive management roles with major San Diego radio groups, including Entercom, iHeart Media and CBS Radio. His experience includes guiding major advertisers in many categories to build their businesses, including automotive, retail, entertainment, food and beverage, media, sports, banking and health care.
He also has been deeply involved in community leadership across his career, currently serving on numerous boards, including YMCA of San Diego, the San Diego Food Bank, Sharp Health Care and the SDCCU Holiday Bowl, where he is president-elect.
CSB Impact is a marketing and media management company with offices in San Diego and Indianapolis. The company, founded in 2003 by Bob Cerasoli and Mike Stafford, represents Mission Federal Credit Union, Scripps Health, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Blood Bank, Fleet Science Center, Decapod and others in the San Diego market. The firm’s roster also includes regional and national clients.
La Puerta to open second location in Mission Hills
La Puerta, the 12-year-old Gaslamp restaurant that instantly became a cult-favorite with locals and created a neighborhood-vibe among droves of conventioneers and tourists, will be opening a second location in Mission Hills in the next four to seven months.
Known for its quality Sinaloan-inspired food, selection of agave tequila and good times, La Puerta will open in what used to be The Patio on Goldfinch.
La Puerta is an edgy neighborhood spot with a locals-first mentality that will carry over to the Mission Hills location in a slightly more mature and evolved version of the downtown Cantina.
With more space (nearly 4,000 square feet) comes more opportunity for added menu items and nightly specials.
Owner Merritte Powell has dreamed of expanding for years but was waiting for the perfect opportunity. The unknown effects of the pandemic have been prominent in Powells’ conversations the last couple of months, but he officially signed the lease May 15.